When was the last time you traveled internationally? According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, only 39% of Americans are passport holders. International travel is perceived as expensive, so it’s no wonder that most Americans prefer staying at home. But the way I see it, international traveling is an investment that could bring big bucks into your business.
Show of hands: Who here wants more money?
Traveling is about much more than taking beautiful pictures and adding them to your IG feed. Traveling is about connection—particularly when you’re running a business. Of course, you could always connect with people in your own neck of the woods. But, international traveling adds a layer of excitement, as you’re exploring new territory.
Like anything else related to your business, traveling requires planning. Pick a destination at the start of the new year, look for tickets in advance and make the right financial moves (I’ll explore a couple in this article) so that you can plan a vacation that is both fun and profitable. Have clear business goals before reaching your destination, and work towards hitting each one.
Here are fifteen things to do when you travel that could boost your business.
15 Attend Events
Before traveling, research a few events happening at your travel destination. Go to those events and work the room (make eye contact, approach people, talk to them). Stand confidently and share what you do.
From my experience of networking events, people love meeting foreigners. When I tell people I’m Canadian, they usually have a bunch of questions for me (and the first question is usually, "How cold does it get?"). Being foreign is a great conversation starter. Once you’ve got the conversation going, you can move on to what you do. Practice how you talk about yourself. What do you do?
Nail your elevator pitch like a boss. Tantalize whoever you’re talking to. Name drop, if you can. Make them want to look you up online.
Listen. It’s not just about you. Actually listen to the person you’re talking to. Show genuine interest in others, and others will show genuine interest in you.
Follow the people you meet on Instagram. Once the conversation is flowing, and it’s time to exchange contact information, you’ll want to follow that person in real time. Your Instagram page is your business card.
14 Download Hello Tel
This is a fantastic app for entrepreneurs. You sign in through LinkedIn or Facebook, and the app informs you of any events or business travelers nearby. You can send them messages and meet up.
Hello Tel is like Facebook for entrepreneurs. You can post pictures and statuses, and write comments. Everything happens in real time. So, if you have a question you need answered pronto, you could just post a status and watch comments pour in.
P.S. The app also sends you notifications if there are any discounts, deals or contests associated with your hotel.
Before traveling, contact influencers in the area you wish to visit. Send them a DM, and be genuine. I’ve made so many friends online because I truly love learning about people—and I don’t just want to use them for my business. I love connecting, so I reach out. If you develop a meaningful relationship with the business owners you meet, perhaps you could collaborate when you reach your travel destination.
12 Use Ridesharing Companies
You can meet interesting people when traveling via ridesharing companies. People from all walks of life are drivers for various reasons. One of the drivers I met while in LA works in television; he drives Lyft three times a month just to get to know people and clear his mind. Who knows—you might meet someone who knows someone who knows someone who could help your business.
Uber, for example, operates in various countries worldwide. In Macau, I met a driver who was looking for foreigners to be extras in a movie project. Important to note: Always be discerning. You're in unfamiliar territory, after all.
11 Add A Location To Your Instagram Posts
This way, people will be able to find you and reach out because they’ll know you’re in the area. I recently traveled to LA, and I started adding my location to all my Instagram posts while I was there. Consequently, I had many LA creatives follow me on Instagram. If they’re in your target audience, follow them back and reach out. You could also search through the location on Instagram and interact with the accounts you encounter. Like pictures, leave comments and follow accounts you're genuinely interested in.
P.S. When you leave a comment, their followers and other people who land on their picture could click on your picture and check out your profile—provided that your profile picture and/or comment entices them to do so.
10 Eat Out
Research restaurants in your travel destination with a huge social media following. Make a list, and patronize a few of them. If in alignment with your brand, take a picture of your meal, upload it to Instagram, use the restaurant’s hashtag, and tag them. They may feature you.
How this could benefit your business: Being featured on a big account—or even just tagging yourself there—could help you to gain followers. Once someone follows your page, the Instagram funnel begins (Instagram>freebie>email marketing>sale). Turn eating out into an event. Record some videos, head on over to Twitter and share your thoughts on your meal. Turn each moment into content. All this extra content is bound to attract new followers.
9 Make Sure Your Instagram Page/Funnel Is In Top Shape
Remember, your Instagram page is your business card. So organize it well before leaving the country.
Write a killer bio that explains the value you bring to your target audience.
Make sure you stick to a certain color scheme or pattern.
Write captions that appeal to your target audience and include a call to action (e.g., check out the link in my bio).
Post every day.
Respond to comments.
Include a call to action or link in your bio. It should be to download or to sign up for a freebie.
Your freebie could be an e-course, an e-book, audio content, a checklist or video download. The possibilities are endless.
8 Take Pictures For Instagram
Traveling is the perfect opportunity to take pictures and upload them to your feed. Try to post daily to Instagram—travel is an exciting event that is sure to interest your current followers and attract new ones.
Make sure your captions direct your audience to your bio, and include calls to action (CTA) to encourage engagement. Put important information at the beginning of your caption to make sure your audience reads it. Ask your audience a question to prompt them to comment.
A few other CTA examples:
Double tap if you agree
Tag someone who needs to read this
The last one is particularly interesting, as you'll get more people to see your post. Make sure to interact with everyone who was tagged. Make them feel welcomed. Check out their page and write them a comment that shows that you know a little something about them.
Don't just post and run. With Instagram's new algorithm, posts with the most initial likes and comments are ranked higher. Posts with more engagement are seen as better, so Instagram will show them first. Posts no longer appear chronologically.
7 Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories offer you the opportunity to pop back into your audience’s feed, often in a more informal way. You could either post a picture or video, and both can include a call to action that directs viewers to the link in your bio.
6 Take Time In The Morning To Work
Make it a workcation. Schedule two hours out of your day to work on your business. Being in a new country is inspiring, and profitable ideas can be born during this time. Write them down and work on them while they’re fresh.
I mentioned earlier that you should have clear business goals before traveling. Those goals should also have a clear timeframe. So, you may set out to write a blog post by Wednesday, for example. Take concrete steps to make each goal happen. Also, make sure that your goals and timeframes are realistic. Don't plan on writing a 300-page novel during your week-long workcation. Have small goals with small timeframes for the duration of your trip.
5 Work In Coffee Shops
Entrepreneurs love coffee (shops). Leave your Airbnb or hotel and go out. More likely than not, you’ll meet other entrepreneurs. At some point, your hotel starts feeling like home. But, you're on vacation. So, leave the house.
Walk to the nearest coffee shop or call a driver and have him/her drop you at a popular spot. You could use the Hello Tel app I mentioned earlier to ask what would be a great coffee shop for entrepreneurs. You could also tweet that question. If all else fails, use Google. Don't shy away from going out by yourself. No one will find you weird for eating, drinking and working by yourself. And, if they do find you weird, that's fine. Some people are intrigued by unusual behavior, so they'll approach you.
4 Make Sure You Have Data
You don’t want to have to rely on WiFi to get by. You may get DMs or text messages about an event or opportunity, and it would suck to miss out because you only saw the messages hours later when you arrived at your next WiFi spot.
If your smartphone is unlocked, you could simply pop out your SIM card and replace it with the new pre-paid SIM card you would have purchased upon arriving at your destination.
You could take advantage of T-Mobile's Simple Choice plan, which offers you unlimited data in over 140 countries.
3 Take Pictures To Sell
Are you a photographer? Do you have a knack for photography? Take pictures and sell them on 500px ISO. It's totally free to join the 500px community. Every now and again, the site even runs contests, so you could win some money. The site represents an opportunity to gain contacts as well. You could discover photographers from across the globe while selling your own pictures.
From what I can tell, their most popular submissions are nature pictures and pictures that are extremely colorful. Check out their site for insights into what makes a picture sellable.
2 Become A Customer
Find a local business owner and patronize them. You could connect with a photographer and schedule a photo shoot or check out a clothing shop owned by someone you follow on Instagram. Becoming a customer is a great way to build relationships. Remember: Every moment is Instagrammable. In order to find the professional you're looking for, use hashtags. For example, if you want to schedule a photo shoot in London, search through #londonphotographer. When setting your travel budget, factor this in as an expense. With every purchase you make, think of the return on investment.
How this could benefit your business: Remember the saying, “You reap what you sow”? It applies here. The person you’ve just bought from may develop an interest in what you do.
1 Use Your Credit Card
Part of being a business owner is ensuring that every dollar is working for you. When you travel, use your credit card. Many credit cards offer sign-on bonuses and allow you to earn points with every purchase, and some offer cashback (some of these bonuses amount to free roundtrip tickets!). Chase, for example, offers cardholders 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in applicable categories per quarter. Furthermore, you’ll earn $150 after you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the account.
How this could benefit your business: As a business owner, money is an incredible asset—after all, you need money to keep your business afloat! Make sure your money is working hard for you by using a credit card that rewards you.
Travel is always a sound investment, but even more so when you’re a businessperson. Any of these 15 things could boost your business. Let me know in the comments: What do you do for your business when you travel?
Sources: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Hello Tel, Orbitz, 500 Px, Chase, T-Mobile.
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