Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 10 2013

Travel Time

Christina M. Whitehead, CMP, Independent Event Planner, M.U.S.E. Productions, Inc.

Meeting and convention professionals spend an inordinate amount of time on the road, in hotels and airports, and away from home. With all the details we have to focus on in our industry to make our events a success, it can be little tips and tricks that make the difference between letting travel be a breeze, or adding personal stress on to work concerns. Here are five tips that can lighten the load!


As winter approaches we all try to stay warm while not letting our power or gas bills soar (and here in Atlanta we have the reverse issue with the same concern during the summer.) NEST is an electronic thermostat system with a great app. You can schedule your heating or cooling system on an hourly and daily basis so it’s only being used as necessary. But the best part for travelers is that it’s all controllable via the app: let’s say you’ve been gone a week, you’ve had the heat off, and you’re about to head home where it’s been near freezing. Use the app to turn on your heat as soon as your plane lands, and by the time you get home your house will be toasty warm and ready for you. Forget to turn the heat off when you go away for the holidays? No problem! Use the app to turn it down or off as you please, from anywhere you get internet access. NEST also emails you reports on your power usage and lets you know when you’re using it most efficiently, and your power stats for any time period.



In 1970 Bernard Sadow, a luggage manufacturer, had the brilliant idea to add wheels on luggage. In 1987 Robert Plath, a pilot for Northwest, improved wheeled luggage by adding the now ubiquitous retractable handle to pull the luggage more easily. How could it get any better? The answer is with 360 or “spinner” wheels. Rather than dragging your suitcase at a wide angle, tripping fellow travelers and feeling the weight of those extra show shoes you packed, spinner wheels spin in complete circles, allowing you to keep your suitcase upright and close to you while you roll it smoothly in any direction. You’re no longer dragging, but rather pulling it with you, and the result is that the weight of the suitcase is no longer on your arms and shoulders, but instead concentrated on the wheels themselves. Save yourself the back pain and switch all of your luggage to spinner wheels as soon as you can!



Everyone has their favorite app to manage their travel plans, and if you always book using a site like Expedia or Orbitz, then their apps will suffice. If, however, you wind up booking through a variety of channels (let’s say a combination of Expedia, airline websites, hotel websites, car rental websites and travel agency sites), then compiling your itinerary becomes more of a hassle. TripIt is a time-saver because you can forward your email confirmations and have them automatically imported into your trip itinerary so that they appear all together (you can also add itinerary items manually). TripIt will add maps from one location to another and show you the weather for your destination. The paid version offers more options, but the free version is completely sufficient for the busy event professional on the go.



Some people can get on a plane, close their eyes and drift off to dream-land easily. The rest of us aren’t so lucky, and spend red-eyes or international flights waking up at every cough, every “ping” of the flight attendant button, and every lit iPad screen around us. SleepPhones consist of a wide headband with comfortable built-in headphones so you can do two things at once: cover your eyes completely to block the light, and listen to whatever white noise/soothing music helps you block out ambient sound. Because the earpieces are completely flat, you can easily lean your head against a pillow or wall without having bulky headphones in your way.



A number of mobile device companies offer great cases for your smart phone that incorporate a slim pouch on the back, made for holding your driver’s license and a credit card. Most of us are rarely without our phone in our hands as we rush through check-in, security and boarding; these cases let you keep your ID and credit card with you close so you only have to slide them in and out as needed, without having to get out your wallet. Add in the great electronic boarding pass apps that most airlines offer, and all you need to have in your hand during your airport experience is your phone: no paper, no wallet, no problem.