Travel Secrets From CEOs: Rules of the Road

Business Travel secrets tricks of the tradeCaitlin Keating & Alex Konrad/ Fortune Magazine

You’re tired. You’re cranky. You’ve been on the road for four days straight, and you just found out your final flight home is delayed. Sound familiar? As business recovers and more travelers start clogging the skies, survival is all about gaining an edge: the secret way to skip a line or score an upgrade, the inside word on the best hot pot in Beijing, and the apps that will deliver all of the above. In the pages that follow, expert travelers, CEOs, and road-weary startup founders share their tips.

JACK DORSEY/CO-FOUNDER, TWITTER, FOUNDER AND CEO, SQUARE

I pretty much travel between four blocks–Twitter, Square, and my apartment. In New York, I like the Mercer Hotel in SoHo.

JOE ESSENFELD/FOUNDER AND CEO, JIBE

My friends and I decided to try different ways of asking the hotel staff to see what works best to get an upgrade. We discovered that instead of asking for an upgrade you should just say, “Do you have a nice room for me?” It works 50% of the time.

ALEX LASKEY/CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, OPOWER

Smile. The world treats you better if you do. And wear earplugs.

NEIL BLUMENTHAL/CO-FOUNDER AND CO-CEO, WARBY PARKER

I opt out of the new X-ray scanner because I travel a lot and want to avoid the negative cumulative effects of radiation, namely cancer.

RIO CARAEFF/PRESIDENT AND CEO, VEVO

Drink lots of water and wash your hands as much as possible.

KEVIN SYSTROM/CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, INSTAGRAM

I love the Ace Hotel in New York–it’s funky and dark and everyone has a mustache.

MARISSA MAYER/VICE PRESIDENT, GOOGLE

I have a “just add clothes” suitcase that has all my toiletries, workout clothes, pajamas, a flatiron, and other daily necessities, so when I pack I can literally just add clothes.

TONY HSIEH/CEO, ZAPPOS.COM

If you’re traveling with someone, bring a splitter and extra headphones. Movies are more fun when watching together.

KATIA BEAUCHAMP/CO-CEO, BIRCHBOX

I’m obsessed with Tili bags. They’re zip-lock bags with really fun patterns. It’s a fun way to see everything in your bag.

DAVID GILBOA/CO-FOUNDER AND CO-CEO, WARBY PARKER

GateGuru is an app that has every airport and restaurant and terminal. If you don’t want to eat plane food, you can see your options. Also, my phone has a Mophie Juice Pack [rechargeable battery]. It’s a life-changing thing to not have to worry about your phone dying.

JEREMY ANDRUS/PRESIDENT AND CEO, SKULLCANDY

I’m really, really picky when it comes to my seat in the airplane. There is a big difference in seats, even if the seats are the same shape. There’s one seat on the 747 double decker, seat 73A, where you can get about seven feet of leg room. Not only that, it’s got this compartment to the left for your stuff so when they bring your food, you can stack your documents. It’s your own little office.

COL NEEDHAM/FOUNDER AND CEO, IMDB

When you’re flying to another country, it’s very important to get off the plane first because a five-minute delay getting off the plane can add 40 minutes going through customs.

TOR MYHREN/PRESIDENT AND CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, GREY NEW YORK

The Varilite BackRest cushion is a lifesaver for anyone with back problems who has to travel. It’s light as a feather and rolls up into a tiny, compact shape that fits in any small bag. Get on the plane, pull it out, it self- inflates, slide it behind your lower back, and it’s all good on anatomically offensive airplane seats. It also works brilliantly for long cab or car trips to the airport.

ALEXA VON TOBEL/FOUNDER AND CEO, LEARNVEST

Pay for your checked bag online. It’s cheaper than at the airport.

MICHAEL HASENSTAB/PORTFOLIO MANAGER, FRANKLIN TEMPLETON INVESTMENTS

The minute you get into a new place, do a short workout. It resets your body clock and helps you function quickly.

JOHN MACKEY/CO-FOUNDER AND CO-CEO, WHOLE FOODS MARKET

I don’t need a gym because I travel with a yoga mat and block to practice in my room. I also take a walk/hike in the area if time allows. If I’m in N.Y.C., I’ll walk to and from appointments to get some movement in.

RAJAT PAHARIA/FOUNDER AND CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER, BUNCHBALL

When I get on a plane, there’s usually been enough stress getting there that as soon as I get on, I pass out. The head pillow things don’t keep your neck from knocking forward, but neck braces for neck injuries do. I can sleep with one of those anywhere.

Tory Burch

DESIGNER AND CEO, TORY BURCH

Where to go in New York City for…

A CLIENT DINNER: Estiatorio Milos

A DATE: Bohemian on Great Jones Street (get the sashimi and steak)

BRUNCH: Sant Ambroeus on West 4th Street

A VIEW OF THE CITY: Top of the Standard at the Standard, New York

A RUN: The reservoir in Central Park

A SPA QUICKIE: Salon Ishi for shiatsu head massages

A COFFEE: Via Quadronno on East 73rd Street

AN ART FIX: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A WEEKEND GETAWAY: Southampton, N.Y.

Mark Cuban

OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS

Where to go in Dallas for…

A CUSTOM-MADE SALAD: EatZi’s Market & Bakery

A CLIENT DINNER: Bob’s Steak & Chop House or Del Frisco’s Grille

MEALS WITH THE KIDS: The Purple Cow or the Flying Fish

A WORKOUT: Life Time Athletic. “Come on the right day, and you can take a fitness class or play pickup basketball with me.”

A DRINK: The Grapevine Bar

BRUNCH: The Joule hotel. “My wife lives for their peanut butter French toast.”

HIDDEN GEM: Twisted Root Burger Co.: “They have a buffalo burger salad that I live off of.”

Andrew Alexander

CEO, THE SECOND CITY

Where to go in Chicago for…

A CLIENT DINNER: Hub 51

CAR SERVICE: Delaware Cars & Limousines

SECRET GEM: Lula Café in Logan Square

A DRINK: Four Seasons Hotel bar

COFFEE: Starbucks on Wells and North. “It’s the busiest Starbucks in Chicago, and it’s open 24 hours a day.”

A CULTURAL DIVERSION: The Museum of Science and Industry

A WORKOUT: Xsport Fitness

Jean and Jane Ford

CO-FOUNDERS, BENEFIT COSMETICS (OWNED BY LOUIS VUITTON MÖET HENNESSY)

Where to go in San Francisco for…

A CLIENT DINNER: Waterbar on the Embarcadero

A DATE: Sushi Ran in Sausalito

BRUNCH: The Palace hotel or Le Garage Bistro in Sausalito

CAR SERVICE: Issam from Majestic Limousine is “basically family”

A MANI/PEDI: International Orange (named for the paint color on the Golden Gate Bridge) in Pacific Heights

A FUN WALK: The Mission

GOOD COFFEE: Blue Bottle or the Havana Latte at Coffee Bar in the Financial District

A WEEKEND GETAWAY: Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

A BLOWOUT: Joseph Cozza Salon and Spa

A STEAM: Kabuki Springs & Spa

Danny Rimer

PARTNER, INDEX VENTURES

Where to go in London for…

A CLIENT DINNER: Ikeda

A DATE: The River Cafe because it reminds me of San Francisco, with a view of the water and beautiful old architecture

A DRINK: The bar at the Connaught Hotel, where I order the Sazerac, a 1920s drink from Louisiana

REFLECTION: Jivamukti Yoga

A COFFEE: Coffee Plant on Portobello Road and Fernandez & Wells in Soho (order the Stumpy)

BRUNCH: The Electric Brasserie. I’ve been going there for 10 years.

WEEKEND GETAWAY: The beauty of London is that you can leave London. I love going to Paris.

Robin Chan

CEO, TIME MACHINE VENTURES; FORMER CEO, XPD MEDIA; ANGEL INVESTOR

Where to go in Beijing for…

A HOTEL: The Opposite House is the nicest boutique hotel. It’s in the best mall, Sanlitun Village, which is where a lot of techies hang out. It’s like the Rosewood in Menlo Park.

CAR SERVICE: In the last year, Beijing has become an absolute pain for getting taxis. Many drivers are flooding into the city, unfamiliar with the roads. I recommend getting a full-day car service if you are a busy traveler. It will cost you about 100 U.S. dollars a day.

A SWEET TOOTH FIX: Colibri Café in Sanlitun Village has fast Wi-Fi, great people watching, and delicious cupcakes.

A GREAT MEAL: The homemade noodles at Haidilao Hotpot, a chain of Sichuan hot-pot restaurants renowned by local foodies. Or the lemongrass fish at Middle 8th in Sanlitun. Or the world-famous dumpling restaurant DinTaiFung never fails. You can also go to Chef Too in Chaoyang Park for a decent New York–style brunch. The owner is from New Jersey.

A DRINK: Apothecary or D Lounge

INSIDER TIP 1 OF 5

“In addition to corner rooms away from the elevator, ask for rooms with no connecting door. They’re quieter.”

–Radha Arora, president, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

INSIDER TIP 2 OF 5

“Call the crewmember by their first name. It will go a long way. But with the captain, call him captain.”

–Dave Barger, CEO and president, JetBlue Airways

INSIDER TIP 3 OF 5

“Use the hotel app on your smartphone. Many hotels let you check in remotely before arriving at the hotel, and you can even place a room service order and have it waiting in your room when you get there.”

–Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide

INSIDER TIP 4 OF 5

“If you find roast chicken on a menu, you can bet it’s a good restaurant. It isn’t an easy dish to master–it’s often too dry–so if it’s super moist and delicious, it shows they’re putting time and thought into their menu.”

–Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group

INSIDER TIP 5 OF 5

“Wednesday is the busiest day for car rentals, so if you want one that day, make sure you book it in advance.”

–Ronald L. Nelson, chairman and CEO, Avis Budget Group

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