5 Reasons to Travel for Work

One way to travel to new places for free: travel for work. All expenses are paid and you experience a new city or town that wasn’t on your bucket list. Of course, you may not be traveling under ideal conditions – you’ll be seeing your coworkers all day – but you may also find surprises.

If you’re dreading spending breakfast to bedtime with your coworkers, here are five reasons to look at the experience in a positive light.

1 Experience new places 

When you travel for work, you see places you wouldn’t otherwise travel to because you couldn’t think of a single reason why you’d like to go there. For example, going to a small town can be a shock if you’re from a big city with plenty of nightlife. You could find yourself going to the downtown core to do some sightseeing, only to find the place deserted by 7 p.m. 

On the upside, you could find yourself in a tiny village where the tourist highlight is the local coffee shop. If you dare to hike behind the school, you could find yourself in a wooded area, knee-deep in snow while taking in post-card views. You could run into wolves running next to people’s pet dogs or risk falling into a hole in a frozen lake while Skidoos pass you by.

2 Bond and see a new side of your coworkers

When you travel to a new place, you could be with your coworkers from morning until night, more than the usual eight hours a day. As you converse over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you learn more about each other’s family, hobbies, and opinions. Learning about a coworker’s weekend adventures can be more entertaining than talking about work all day.

If you stay in the same cabin or housing, you also discover each other’s evening routine as you have tea together and chat. If you’re staying at a place without TV or internet, evenings can be entertaining or dull, depending if you prefer reading on your own or chatting with your coworker.

3 Learn technology skills

If you’re fascinated by TV shows where the main character has to create gadgets and solve problems on the fly, working in a new environment could give you a similar experience.

Your usual IT person isn’t around, so if you can’t find a file or your computer doesn’t connect to WiFi (even after you learn the WiFi password), you start to push the boundaries of your computer skills. Or you talk to your computer and beg it to please cooperate for once.

4 Practice speaking and networking skills

When you travel for work with coworkers, the experience is great for extroverts but nightmarish for introverts. You’re constantly socializing: talking with your coworkers during meals and meetings, networking with new people such as the host, the client, and anyone they introduce you to. 

During the day, you may be making presentations or conducting meetings and negotiations. In the evening, the host may become your tour guide and show you around the city. One memorable occasion was when I had dinner at a heritage home. We toured the house with its collection of unique door knobs, a clawfoot tub, and rooftop view.

5 Test your navigational skills

Starting from the moment you land, you’re searching your way through the airport to find your luggage and hope it’s also arrived safely and not lost during the connecting flight. Then you need to figure out how to find the transportation that will get you to your hotel while reading a map that is in your second language.  

In the evenings, you could ask the hotel concierge for a map of the city so you can explore it on your own or with a coworker. You might find yourself at a pop-up market on a cobblestone street, or hiking through the woods in your office clothes.

Key Takeaways

Traveling for work can be a memorable adventure. You’ll face new challenges in an unfamiliar environment and experience new places and meet new people. When you return to the office, you may be relieved to see your coworkers for only eight hours a day again, or you might have new topics to discuss when you meet at the water cooler.

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How Much Should You Tip?

The question of how much to tip has been a hot topic in news articles recently. Food prices and tipping have both risen in North America. Customers have noticed that the minimum for tipping has increased in the last two years, and there is now an option to tip for almost everything. Has tipping gotten out of hand?

Customers are asking if tipping has gone too far. Should you be tipping staff if you get the product yourself from the shelf, take it to the counter, and the staff rings up your purchase? Do you tip if you drive yourself to the restaurant to pick up your order? 

People seem to be divided in their answers to these questions. For example, some say you should tip for takeout because the time a server spends packing your food is time taken from serving a table where the server would get a tip.

Perhaps another way to approach the question is to decide what you expect of staff and why you should tip them. Some say you should tip according to what you think of the service. 

The minimum tip on credit card machines seems to be 18%. Some people think 20% is fairer. Others have said that 25% is a good tip to reward great service. But what is great service? What qualities do you value?

Do you value speed and efficiency? Some restaurants get your food out to your table promptly. At other restaurants, it can take 30 minutes for your dessert to appear, or more than an hour for your entree. It makes you wonder if they had to go and harvest your fish from the sea or send someone to get your dessert from a nearby bakery.

Maybe what you value is friendly and personal service. At some restaurants, your servers may ask you about your day. Or, at a recent visit to a restaurant, the server smiled, told a joke, and did a little dance.

I’ve spoken to many people about what they are looking for when they happily pay an 18% tip for a great experience, compared to paying an 18% tip only because it was the right thing to do.

The debate goes on, depending on who you ask. A person’s experience in customer service, their financial situation, and values about what’s fair all weigh in on their opinions. Those who have traveled the world have pointed out that some countries don’t have a tipping culture, and the service there is just as good as in places with a tipping culture.

So the answer to the question, “How much should you tip?” depends on what you value in customer service. 

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How to Increase Your Success When Applying for Jobs

Applying for a job should be straightforward: see job ad, reply to job ad. From the employer’s point of view, it should also be a smooth process: review applications, decide if the candidates’ skills fit. However, in the past couple of weeks of reviewing applications, I’ve discovered that the process isn’t as effortless as expected.

I certainly don’t know all the secrets a job candidate needs for a successful job application, but I have some insights that will benefit those who apply to organizations that don’t have an AI system for sifting through hundreds of resumes. We’ll start with a tip that eases the workload of the potential employer who reads through each application one at a time with human eyes.

1 Indicate which job you’re applying to

This first tip should be obvious: be clear about which job you’re applying to. Don’t assume the company is only hiring for the job you’re applying for. It can be very frustrating if the person opening your email has to guess which of five possible jobs you’re applying for.  

Start with the job title in your email subject line. Then, in the first sentence, refer to your source for the job posting. Did you see the job online? Did you hear about the job from a mutual friend?  

2 Don’t ask them to tell you more about the job

The fastest way to give your potential employer a bad impression about you is to write, “I’m interested in (insert job post name here). Tell me more about the job.” This statement makes you appear lazy, as if you’re applying to multiple jobs at once and couldn’t be bothered to spend an extra five minutes to research the company.

For example, a technical glitch caused the full job description to be hidden from immediate display in the email job posting. It was easy to tell who didn’t read the email carefully and wasn’t resourceful in finding more information. These people all replied with a simple, “tell me more about the job.”

In another case, one person told a friend about the job posting but didn’t forward any of the details. The applicant’s first words were, “I’m interested in X job. Tell me more.” The applicants don’t realize how time consuming and exhausting it is to keep repeating details of the job to each applicant.  

Show that you’ve done some research in the company. Ask a specific question about the job requirements. Make a comment about some information you found on the company website. To make an even better impression, try the next tip.

3 Advertise yourself

If the details about the job are sparse or you’re unable to find details about the job description, open your response by telling the potential employer a little bit about yourself. What skills or educational background do you have that qualify you for the job?

If you have the complete job description, start your email with a description of how your skills are a good fit for the job. Ask if the company wants a resume (if that was not made clear in the job posting), or ask if they would like a link to your work portfolio. 

If you don’t have access to a detailed job description, begin with a description about yourself and why you’re interested in the role. Just don’t say you’re interested in the job, and press send without telling the potential employer at least a little bit about yourself.  

Perhaps you responded to the ad because you were waiting for your popcorn to pop before you could start your movie and you needed to kill some time. Even if you are only mildly curious about the job and don’t really care about the outcome of your application, putting a little more than two minutes of effort is worth it.

Key Takeaways

It takes minimal effort to make the hiring process easier for the potential employer. Tell them where you found out about the position, which position you’re applying for, and show some sign that you did your research about the job. No company wants to feel like they’re company 984 out of 1003 that you applied to that month. Finally, tell them about yourself so they will see that you are a fit and they will ask you for an interview.

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Business Review: Insights into Food and Service

What do you think of when you dine at a restaurant with excellent food and service? Do you look forward to a wonderful experience?

You’re likely hoping to enjoy some delicious food with good company. You’re not likely to go to dinner wearing a Consultant hat (figuratively speaking) and analyze what you see with consultant glasses like I do. However, if you do, you may see a familiar experience in a new way.

As a workplace trainer and business operations consultant, I’m like the average customer who goes to lunch or dinner with family or friends. But, as I interact with staff, I notice many details they don’t.

It’s amazing what happens from the moment you choose your food and drink to the moment your order arrives at your table. The server rapidly punches your order in her device. Your drinks arrive, carefully balanced on her large tray.

Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, the cooks make quick calculations so that multiple dishes, each requiring different cooking and preparation times, all arrive at your table at once. At a table for eight, no one feels left out because that one person chose a dish with an extremely long prep time.

In the distance, you hear that your server is finishing her shift – but your table isn’t finished yet. One person in your party needs to leave early and asks for the bill. The server brings the bill, leaves to serve another table, and remembers to return to take the payment.

A new server just starting his shift brings the take-out boxes your group requested earlier. You ask for a group photo so the server asks if you want some of the empty plates taken away first. Then he takes several photos in case someone blinked.

When dinner is finished, your friends make comments about how much they enjoyed seeing each other again.

But you alone notice all the details that went into creating that experience, from the correctly typed orders, the timing of the dishes, and streamlined service, although your dining time straddled two work shifts.

In all, it’s amazing what happens behind the scenes to orchestrate the perfect dining experience for each customer.

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