Most Expensive Cities for Business Travel

If you’ve traveled often for business – or pleasure for that matter – then you know that cities are hardly created equal when it comes to travel expenses. Hotel rates in Washington D.C. are a far cry from the rates in a city like Wichita Falls. This becomes even truer when comparing expenses around the world.

Surprisingly, the US just barely makes the top ten in expensive cities, according to several sources between 2013 and 2014. Many of the cities on the list are expected, but there are some interesting trends in business travel costs around the globe. For example, the Middle and South Americas have historically been slated as relatively inexpensive destinations. But, Latin America has seen a recent increase of 15-30% for hotel costs in three of its major cities.

Here’s a look at a few of the most expensive cities for business travel:

Brisbane, Australia

Australia has seen a mega mining and energy boom as of late. Beginning in 2012, Brisbane has been a major attraction for big businesses, and tourism-based vendors in the city have not missed out on opportunities to take advantage. Despite the recent decline in visitor spending and the value of the Australian dollar, Brisbane remains atop the list of most expensive cities to travel to for business and it’s doubtful it will slip far down the list any time soon.

Tokyo, Japan

It shouldn’t be a shock to see Tokyo on this list. In the last 20 years, Tokyo has been ranked as the most expensive city, all around, 14 times! With meals of limitless prices, it’s not unusual for high-end dinners to reach $1000 and up. Tokyo also has plenty of entertainment to offer as the most populous city in the world! So, be careful when you arrive because Tokyo can zap away your budget in no time if you’re not careful.

Sydney, Australia

More from down under! As Australia’s capital and most visited city, Sydney has been hosting travelers for a long time now. With a rich history and an impressive range of attractions, this bright city is no stranger to this type of list. Although there are many ways to get around, transportation in Sydney tends to be the most expensive compared to other cities. Meals also tend to be high and actually surpass the average cost of meals in Tokyo.

New York City

The Big Apple is still hanging in as one of the top ten most ten expensive cities in the world for business. With an endless amount of entertainment possibilities and world-renowned edibles, NYC is often quite expensive for travelers from near or far. As a city often mentioned in the same breath as London & Paris, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. The city that never sleeps is constantly entertaining and it all adds up to create the most expensive city for business travel in the US.

San Francisco

Hot on the heels of its cross-country counterpart, San Francisco is the second most expensive city in the US for business travel. In fact, some recent studies even suggest that – with significant increases in hotel and food costs – San Fran has surpassed the costs of NYC. Many of the major US tech companies have found their homes on the west coast so it makes sense to see this shift. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

Where’s your next business trip?

The big-hitters like New York City and Tokyo are certainly not new to this type of list. Having established economies with major attractions and accommodations, these cities will remain relevant for the foreseeable future. But, it is very interesting to see cities like San Francisco and those in Latin America, as they make moves to become bigger hubs for business travel. Will business travel expenses have an impact on how your company navigates the world and plans its next business moves?

Most expensive cities for business travel

Source: Certify

registered agent

4 Tips for Expanding Your Business Out of State

Creating and building a business is a big deal. Expanding your business out of state . . . that’s a whole new ball game! With the responsibilities of an operating business already on your plate, it can be difficult to find the time to plan, strategize, and analyze your way to a successful expansion.

But, expansion shouldn’t be a terrifying proposition. There are actually some basic steps you can take to make the process easier, more realistic, and more successful.

Establish long-term goals

This may seem like an obvious step, but many decisions to expand are based on unexpected opportunities. If your biggest competitor in the region offers to sell you her business then chances are good that you’ll at least consider the idea.

But, you can stay a step ahead of surprise opportunities by deciding on a plan before they come along. You should already have a long-term business plan in place, but a lot of people don’t – especially small business owner/operators.

Even if expansion isn’t a goal of yours, it would be beneficial to run through the possibilities in case a situation like the example above happens. Let’s say your store and Sally’s store are the top two competitors in your region. Sally decides to retire and puts the business up for sale, which allows chain stores the chance to get in on the market and maybe even take customers away from you. Buying Sally’s store becomes more about survival than expansion, in which case being prepared will be of great value. Going through these possibilities is valuable whether your hope to expand or not.

Perfect your current business model

If you’ve experienced enough success to consider expanding then you probably feel confident that your business model is in good shape. But, the truth is that many times businesses are actually set up to rely on community to succeed instead of a solid system of functionality.

If you own a business, the chances are good that you own it in your hometown. This allows you to start with the support of your family, friends, neighbors, and other folks in the community. But, this isn’t the case when expanding across state lines. You’ll be establishing your business in front of people who don’t know you, what you’re about, and why they should trust you.

Having a foolproof business model is the key to improving your chances of succeeding in a different location. A great way to develop such a machine is to start stepping away from your business to see what happens. This might be impossible for some, but if at all feasible then it should be highly considered.

Are you making all the sales or seeing all the appointments for your current business? If you are and you won’t be extending that same service to the next location then you’ll want to be sure that whoever is handling it can manage the responsibilities. Better yet, you’ll want to figure out what it is exactly that has allowed you (other than your network) to be successful.

Choose a market

Going back to the example of Sally’s store, it may not always be possible to actually choose what location you’ll be landing in. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose the correct market. Sally may have failed because she was targeting only women and no men, even though the men in her territories could use her products.

Do your market research to find out where your business can operate most successfully, or how to make an existing business more appealing to the market in the area. You’ll also want to pay attention to local and state regulations, taxes, etc. All cities and states have their own policies and some will be more kind to your business while others will be less compatible.

Another way to do market research is to examine existing competitors or similar businesses in areas you’re interested in doing business. There are few better ways to get quality information than finding out what’s working and what’s not working for a business. If you’re expanding then you probably have insights from your own business, but it’s helpful to see what others have done and how it has worked out from them.

You don’t have to learn only from your own mistakes – check Facebook, look at websites, walk in stores – get out there and see what everybody else is doing and use it to help develop a better plan for your own ventures.

Add local professionals to your team

If you’re expanding your business across state lines then chances are good that you’ll be hiring new people as well. One way of giving your new expansion business is to hire professionals that have lived in that area. For example, one of the first steps when establishing your business is to hire a Registered Agent in the state where you’ll be operating. Your agent can be a great connector to other businesses and leaders in that area. Just be sure you offer value first before you start asking for referrals. The easiest way to “get” is to “give.”

Adding local professionals will be especially important if your current business has thrived off of networks that you’ve created. As we’ve discussed, you won’t be able to leverage your connections in the new area, but you can leverage the connections of others.

Get to know candidates for the new business and make sure that you also familiarize yourself with the whole community so that you’ll know if candidates will really be able to offer a similar experience as the one you’ve created with your hometown.

Forge ahead

Expanding on a successful business is exciting. Taking your work beyond state borders could create security in your existing business or it could just be the start of an empire. Whatever your goals, opening a new location out of state takes just as much effort as the first business you opened and then some.

Be sure that you know where you’re headed before you take off down the path. Also, make sure that the business plan you’re executing is the right fit for the new venture; just because it worked before, doesn’t mean it will work somewhere else. Become extremely aware of the intricacies of the market you’ll be involved with; whether you’ll be there or not, appointing professionals who are familiar with the lay of the land will help pave the way to a successful addition to your business portfolio.

3 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling for Business

When traveling for business, you want everything that isn’t work to be easy. You want to grab the food that’s quickest and most convenient. Instead of working out, you want to zone out in front of the TV or catch up on sleep (if there’s time for that).

It can be really easy to slip into unhealthy habits, especially if you’re on the road a lot. But, there are some easy ways to erase those bad habits and promote better eating, more fitness, and maybe even more relaxation.

Pack with your health in mind

Packing with healthy habits in mind is a game changer. This will make it easier for you to make good choices while you’re on the road, instead of the unhealthy choices that can seem unavoidable. Packing food is a great start. If you pack healthy snacks – like trail mix or dried fruit – then it’ll be much easier to choose those healthy treats than the McDonald’s around the corner. At the least, you can have a snack until you’re able to grab a better option later on.

Don’t forget to pack for a workout as well! You won’t be able to do much running if you only have your dress shoes. Make sure to bring your athletic shoes and workout clothes. You can even bring things like yoga mats and pull-up bars to help inspire you to get that workout done. And remember, even a 15 minute workout is better than nothing at all.

Use your local resources

When trying to stay healthy, it’s smart to make the best of the resources around you. Many hotels have fitness rooms and pools, and some even offer yoga classes or other workout opportunities. If you can’t find any such resources then try exploring the local scenery. A lot of cities have parks and trails that can be great for running or biking. Even walking around just to discover a new city can turn into a decent workout. And while walking around, you’re likely to find good places to eat and even other places – like spas or yoga studios – to get some relaxation.

Most areas have outdoor basketball courts, golf courses, and other sports facilities that can be utilized for free or nominal fees. Perhaps there’s a coworker you’d like to get to know better – play a round of golf with them and you could kill two birds with one stone!

Get motivated

The biggest obstacle to healthy traveling is staying motivated. It can be downright depressing to think about fitting in a workout at the end of an extended business trip. But, there are ways to stay motivated through these stressful and tiring times.

Use an exercise wristband to set goals, compete with others, and keep track of points, calories burned, and more. I use the Nike Fuelband whether I’m at home or on the road and it allows me to keep track of how active I’ve been, whether I could use a run, and to compete with my wife, regardless of whether we’re together or not.

You can keep track of how you’re eating, too! Apps like MyFitnessPal allow you to type in or scan barcodes for the food you’re eating so you can monitor how close you’re staying to a healthy diet. You can set calorie intake and calorie burn goals and several of the apps can scan an impressive amount of barcodes or already have food brands entered by other users (everything at Trader Joe’s).

Just do it

Traveling is tough enough on its own. Working a fitness and diet plan in as well can be pretty overwhelming. But, if you prepare for a healthy trip then you’ve fought half the battle. Just remember to use the resources around you to get the job done. And, if your motivation is slipping away then turn to some of the tools and apps that are available to keep you in the fighting spirit!

Boost Productivity on Business Trips with these 3 Tips

Traveling for work is more common than ever. Those who have been doing it for years know there’s a certain art to jet setting efficiently and successfully. But whether you’re a novice or an expert, here are a few tips that can help you become more efficient with getting work done during business trips. 

1. Being prepared & organized

This is primarily true for newer business traveler. It’s something that has probably developed over time for seasoned travelers. Being organized is the key to saving tons of time throughout your days of travel, freeing up opportunities to get more work done and even getting that elusive sleep that you’ve been trying to fit into your schedule.

It all starts at home, before you even leave for your trip. Make sure to pack well in advance so that you’re not starting off deprived of sleep from packing just hours beforehand. Also, try packing your carry-on bag with your transit in mind. If you plan to do some work on the flight then have your iPad or tools of choice easily accessible so you’re not digging around for them all flight long.

Many travelers also recommend having a checklist of tasks for idle time. It could consist of little things that you need to do like calling a repairman or anything you can take care of while waiting. Having a list of those tasks is essential to remembering them and being able to knock them out. Of course, don’t forget about basic travel preparation like having your ID/Passport and tickets handy, your phone and tablet charged, and all of your necessary items packed. Being organized is probably the best productivity booster to mention. 

2. Get Connected

When going through terminals, sitting on planes, and working in and out of hotel rooms, it helps to streamline your working experience. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available that allow you to do just that.

The first step of that process is having the right selection of electronics to get the job done. Phones, tablets, and laptops can all be synced to give you seamlessness when working across multiple devices. Apple and Google (Android) are, of course, the best when it comes to phones and tablets. Keeping with one brand tends to offer the most convenient experience but it’s possible to mix and match Apple and Google (and others) if you prefer.

There are also apps that offer improved functionality. Evernote and Google Keep are among the long list of optional tools available. Use them to access your notes, documents, and more wherever you go.

3. Relax

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to have a more productive traveling experience is not to focus on work the whole time. Of course, if you have a two-hour flight and only three hours to put a presentation together then work away, my friend.

But, if you’re staying in town for a couple days, be sure to step away from the Starbucks or lobby hotspot for a while. Getting away from work is all about allowing your brain a chance to recharge so that you’ll be more effective when you get back to work. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do as long as you’re not thinking about your job. FaceTime your family, grab dinner at a nice restaurant . . . it doesn’t really matter. Just get away for a bit!

One of the best options for an escape is to exercise! In general, exercise is great for you so why not add it to you travel routine. When you’re preparing for the trip, be sure to pack workout clothes so you can hit the hotel gym or take a stroll around the neighborhood.

Get to it

No matter what apps you download to stay connected or how you choose to take breaks from your work, figuring it out before you get on the road can be the difference between staying on task and falling behind. Managing your time while you navigate terminals, highways, and hotel lobbies is essential to making the most of your business trips. And, taking advantage of all the tools available will help to accelerate that process. So, plan ahead, browse the App Store, take breaks, and enjoy your travels!

Essential Guide: Deducting Meals and Entertainment From Your Taxes

One of the most exciting parts of owning your own business is writing off expenses for you taxes. It can also be one of the most potentially damaging exercises to execute as the lines are often gray and it’s easy to get deduction happy. There’s also the fear of getting in trouble with the government.

One of the most common expense categories is Meals and Entertainment (M&E). There is often times a lot of leniency in this area, but there can also be a lot of confusion in regard to when deductions can and can’t be made, to what degree, how much is deducted, etc.

For the best results, you should hire a certified professional to help with your accounting and your taxes. Professionals can sometimes even save you enough money to offset their own cost, but if nothing else, they will allow you to rest assured that the IRS won’t be coming for you.

Aside from hiring someone though, there are certain tips for getting the most out of deductions while staying legally legit. Here is a guide for getting the most out of your M&E:

Don’t forget the business

This sounds crazy but it’s easy to get caught up in party throwing, event planning, and guest listing that many people forget that they have to include business interactions in there somewhere. And for the IRS, an affair just to build morale doesn’t cut it. So, take a break in the middle of your party to show off a new piece of equipment or introduce the staff – something that is considered business.

The same applies for writing off meals, too. Just because you sit down and polish off a bottle of scotch with a business partner doesn’t mean it’s automatically deductible. You have to discuss business in order for it to legitimately qualify for a write-off. And, you can’t write off a meal you’re having with your baby nephew on your way through Burger King. Discussions must be with people who are, or can be, involved in your business (business partners, clients, contractors, etc.)

Keep detailed records

For small businesses especially, it seems pretty unlikely that the government is actually going to stop in to check on little ol’ you. Many tax professionals will even admit that to you as well. But as unlikely as it is, you don’t want to get caught ill prepared if you manage to catch their attention. Keep your receipts and make sure to record all related details as proof of purchase and relevance to your business.

There are a number of ways you can keep track of your expenses these days. Of course, there’s the tried and true method of stashing away the hard copy receipts and sorting them into files, which can later be accessed if necessary. I prefer to use Evernote for my documentation though; it includes a feature that allows you to take pictures of documents – like receipts – and add them to folders and files in a cloud-based platform. Evernote makes the images searchable by text so if you have a receipt from Harry’s Hair & Makeup then you can later search for “Harry’s” and it should pop up.

Know when to stop

This sounds counterintuitive, but it can sometimes actually be a waste of time to go through the hassle of writing something off. Or, maybe you would make your decision differently if you realized the way it can or can’t be deducted.

For instance, if you’re throwing a party for your business then the related expenses can be broken down in two different ways: If the party is for the general public or for your employees then you’d be able to deduct 100% of the costs. However, if the same event is for potential clients and contractors you work with then you’ll only be allowed to deduct 50% of the costs.

Also, in some cases, it might take more money for your accountant and tax professional to process the paperwork than you’ll be able to deduct. If it takes Janet an hour at $50 to process $60 worth of receipts that you only get half credit for then you’ll actually lose money by doing it.

Practice makes perfect

If you’re new to the whole process, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs after a while and you’ll become familiar with what and what not to write off and how everything is handled. Working with financial professionals is the safest route but whatever you do, just make sure that you are careful and thorough.