A friend of mine used to get mercilessly teased at work for an unfortunate business travel mishap she’d made. As a junior associate at a public relations firm, she’d sat next to the firm’s managing partner on a flight to meet with a client. About an hour into the trip, she’d fallen asleep — right on the shoulder of the managing partner — and proceeded to snore for the duration of the flight. From then on, every time someone at the firm went on a business trip, they’d (jokingly) be reminded not to snore on the executives’ shoulders.
As it turns out, my friend isn’t the only one with an awkward business-trip story. According to a new CareerBuilder survey on business travel, lots of people have had bizarre or embarrassing experiences while traveling for work. Below are some of the stranger incidents that respondents shared:
- “A client mooned the plane.”
- “Fell asleep in the airplane restroom.”
- “Woman next to me asked me for a drink from my water bottle.”
- “A drunken passenger next to me insisted my headphones were a bomb.”
- “After waking up, I accidentally walked into the hotel’s hallway instead of the restroom in my underwear. Got locked out and could be viewed by the elevator which was all glass windows.”
- “Our plane was stormed by the Colombian military who thought there was a drug lord on board.”
- “A naked guy tried getting in my cab in Indonesia.”
- “U.S. marshals arrested a passenger when the plane landed.”
- “A guy next to me had a carry-on bag filled with candy, which he kept offering me over and over and over again.”
- “Manager punched a co-worker on the plane.”
Luckily, though, most workers don’t have to worry about making these embarrassing mistakes — 68 percent of those surveyed said they never travel for business.
Those who do, however, might want to brace themselves. Employers who responded to the survey said that, for the most part, they have no plans to cut back on business travel this year, with 77 percent saying that their business travel levels will stay the same, and 11 percent planning to increase the amount that employees travel for business.
While this may mean more chances for awkward travel situations, it also means more chances to create strong business relationships. Of employers who cut back on business travel in 2010, 37 percent said that the lack of face time with clients and colleagues in other cities hurt their business overall, citing less effective internal communication, fewer sales and less customer loyalty as common repercussions of travel cutbacks.
Although 42 percent of companies surveyed did said they used tools such as Web and video conferencing in lieu of traveling to meetings, there doesn’t seem to be a substitute for in-person meetings, meaning business travel will still be a necessary part of the job description for many.
Have you had an embarrassing or strange experience while traveling for work? Tell us about it in the comments section.