There is so much more to staying healthy on the road than watching calories in and out, and keeping up an exercise routine. There’s so much more to eating than food, as I like to say, such as boredom, loneliness and stress, all of which can rear their ugly heads on a business trip. Over-ordering from room service, hitting the minibar, hitting the bar before the minibar, mindlessly scarfing chocolate while working late and watching TV at the same time. Okay, I’m writing from my own experience with a big yes to all of the above but I’ll venture to say that I’m not the only female traveler who might have found themselves wishing for an escape from the hotel, a little reliable company and the chance to see more than the hotel restaurant or bar when in a new and strange place.
This is why a new social network for frequent travelers caught my eye. Now Landing was founded to link solo travelers all over the world to encourage them to network and maximize their down time on business trips. I had the pleasure of catching up with Now Landing’s founder, Stewart Stone.
A three-week business trip to Hong Kong and Shanghai got Stewart thinking. Despite the inevitable (and enjoyable) corporate hospitality, he found himself alone for weekends and many evenings, during which he explored the cities on his own, usually without meeting up with or talking to others in the process. While an independent traveler, Stewart did sign up for a couple of half day tours in Shanghai but found he had little in common with the other tourists.
(This comment reminded me of years of solo travel in the Caribbean. I’d go to breakfast in my business attire and be lost among a sea of honeymooners and scantily clad beachgoers. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water).
The experience was compounded for Stewart when he found out that one of his friends who worked for The Financial Times was in China at the same time but in a different location. Traveling alone, she resorted to having room service all the time and didn’t get to explore the city she was in. It occurred to Stewart that there would be a benefit in having women on business meet up together.
As for his own experience, he says, ”On returning to my hotel after going out alone, I would often sit in a plush bar with others who were evenly spaced and intent on staring into their laptops.
I thought this was a real waste, as the person opposite you could be a potential business contact or share similar leisure interests and be happy to explore the city too!”
Stewart has similar observations about his domestic travel within the UK. The culmination of these experiences led to his establishing Now Landing in 2012. The site already has several hundred members and is slated for considerable growth in 2013.
The greater vision is to bring together people from different countries to network and socialize. In Stewart’s words: “When the business really kicks off I can see people entertaining others as hosts in their own countries too. The spin offs and benefits from this ability to communicate with fellow travelers are vast!”
Well, I signed up and I’ll be reaching out to other travelers on future trips. And if they happen to come to my little piece of Florida, you bet I’ll jump at the opportunity to play host. No room service or minibar fests on my watch!
For more information or to join Now Landing, please visit www.nowlanding.com. I’ll be interviewing Stewart Stone as part of my Guest Expert Interview Audio Series this summer. Watch out for that!