Tom Webster is a Senior Vice President of Edison Research, a custom market research company best known as the sole providers of exit polling data during US elections for all the major news networks. He has nearly 20 years of experience researching consumer usage of technology, new media and social networking, and is the principal author of a number of widely-cited studies, including The Social Habit, Twitter Users in America, and the co-author of The Infinite Dial, America’s longest running research series on digital media consumption. He is also the co-author of The Mobile Commerce Revolution, and a popular keynote speaker on data and consumer insights. He writes about all of these topics at www.brandsavant.com and on Twitter at @Webby2001. Tom shared such great tips that the podcast ran a bit longer than I hoped and I felt miserable having to leave many of his juicy nuggets on the cutting room floor.
Travel Products & Places mentioned:
- Boston’s Logan airport
- Legal Seafood
- JetBlue Mosaic
- TSA PreCheck
- Flight001 travel packing tubes
- Briggs and Riley roller board
- compression socks
- Burton travel hoodie (no longer available)
- ex officio underwear
- packets of detergent for traveling
- Bang and Olufsen A1 Bluetooth speaker
- Bang Olufsen wireless Bluetooth noise canceling H9s
- Tzumi Pocketjuice
- Belkin surge protector and charger
- RAV power file hub
- Tablet plus
Business Travel Hacks Episode 2 show transcript:
[00:00:00] I had problems with that for many many years until I figured out all the ways I could to put success in my way. And the one thing that I know I can do anywhere is run. And more specifically is run on a treadmill. And look if I’m staying in New York and it’s a nice day and I’m near Central Park I’m going to be at Central Park don’t get me wrong. But running in a city is stressful at stop and start. It’s hard to get in the groove. I find there’s a treadmill anywhere I stay. And I use an app called Studio and Studio is basically an app for treadmills that does the same kind of thing that peloton does for the cycle. There are live classes essentially and they eventually get recorded. So there’s a big bank of them but there is a live instructor with music telling you how to set your speed sensor inclined. So it’s not the kind of app you would use if you want to like want a run 5k. It’s not the app you would use but if you have 30 minutes and I want to burn 400 calories. That’s the app to use. And that way I can be consistent because there’s a treadmill anywhere I stay. So I don’t have an excuse. I don’t have a weather excuse I don’t have a silly excuse I don’t have the oh you don’t have cable bells and whatever.
[00:01:44] So Tom, tell people who you are and why you travel so frequently. Sure. So I am the SVP Edison Research which is a custom market research company that were known primarily for doing the exit polls during the elections and primaries and caucuses by caucuses whatever the plural of that is. I do a lot of research in the audio space such as podcasts of which this is one.
[00:02:11] So I travel every week and that’s not an exaggeration. Without fail. And it’s it’s a mix of, I have a son in North Carolina that I visit extremely regularly so I travel a lot on weekends for personal reasons and then I do about 60 or 70 speaking engagements per year. Some of which are client presentations some of which are agency presentations and many of which are just at conferences and events so I’m frequently on the road speaking.
[00:02:42] Tell people where you’re based out of? So I live in Boston, Massachusetts.
[00:02:47] Do you have any favorite places at Logan If you god forbid have to deal with the delay or anything like that that you hang out with or or just enjoy?
[00:02:58] I do. Yeah I think my two Logan tips would be number one. Most of the terminals at Logan have a an outpost of Legal Seafood and Legal Seafood is pretty good. You know it’s not just good for airport food it’s actually it’s it’s pretty good seafood it’s seafood that I would eat in an airport. So if you find yourself stranded at Logan seek out one of the Legal Seafood outpost there because they do a pretty good job.
[00:03:25] My second tip and this is my sneaky good tip is that a lot of people don’t know this but the terminal C at Logan which is where JetBlue and some other airlines fly out of, there is actually a post security connection to the international terminal. For those of you who have TSA PreCheck and if you’re listening to this show and you don’t have TSA PreCheck you’re doing it wrong. As you know most international most international airlines don’t have TSA Precheck. It’s largely a domestic thing and so if you are if you’re kind of late to the airport or you know you’re trying to get through trying to take a flight internationally you know Emirates or something like that. It could take you hours and hours and hours to get through security when you don’t have precheck. So the sneaky thing and I admit to having done this is to buy a super cheap flight on JetBlue, go through security and Terminal C and then and then find that back passageway into the international terminal. So that’s my sneaky Logan tip.
[00:04:30] What do you wish you knew when you first started traveling for business that you know now?
[00:04:37] You know when I was younger I really always tried to find the best they liked the cheapest flights the you know the absolute best times and things like that. And that led to me spreading my miles around a lot of different airlines. And over the years I’ve just I’ve made I’ve bent the universe to my will.
[00:04:58] And if Delta doesn’t go there or JetBlue doesn’t go there Tom doesn’t go there and find a way to go on Delta and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about banking miles and it’s not so much for free trips and things like that because you know certainly those of us who travel as much as you and I do those things happen anyway. But it’s to get, to get status. It’s to get upgrades and that means you know those things I used to think of like as luxuries but but they’re not actually they’re the things that actually at the end of the week they make you more or less tired depending on how well you’ve traveled. And so it’s really my goal to travel as well as I possibly can.
[00:05:44] Are you one of those guys who has like a very detailed plan, Pack it out you pack the morning of or the night before you a last minute throw it in the bag and go?
[00:05:53] I have everything in duplicate and keep it packed the kind of person. So I buy I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow. My bag is 50 percent the same as it was when I came back from D.C.. I just. I rotate out clean and dirty clothes. I’ve got extra duplicate toiletries I have duplicate sneakers. You know it’s it’s a really simple process for me and I use packing tubes that I buy from Flight001 travel and so I keep things of in their own tube. So basically when I opened up my carry on I pull out one too but that’s dirty stuff on a packet packet with clean clothes. The cue back in and I’m good to go. So it typically takes me five minutes to pack and I do it the morning I go.
[00:06:36] What is your favorite all time travel hack?
[00:06:40] I’m going to give you two because they’re really really short. The first one is that I, I always take the first flight of the day when you take the first flight of the day. Number one your equipment is likely already at the gate it likely spent the night there. And number two you’re far less likely to hit whether I put it this way if there are thunderstorms in the morning you’re not going anywhere anyway. Or the accumulated delays from the day. Well it it all stacks up yeah. But but if I’m on a, so tomorrow morning I’m going to 530 to Minneapolis. That’s going to leave and I’m going to get there and if I get there early I work out of the lounge. I’m happy but I’m far less stressed.
[00:07:21] Yes. So my main airline is Delta and my secondary airline is JetBlue. And I will if need be go on mileage runs at the end of the year to maintain my Mosaic’s status on JetBlue. And the reason why I do that is JetBlue has a sneaky good benefit on Mosaic which is within 24 hours of your flight free flight changes and as long as it’s the same day. So no no change fee no difference in fare buy like a 9:00 p.m. departure and then 24 hours. You know the day before I’ll change the one I wanted in the first place. So I have saved thousands of dollars a year doing that by just you know just by the seat this flight with I want to go down or not and then changing it to the one I want. It’s never failed.
[00:08:05] Do you have a favorite bag?
[00:08:08] I’m Briggs and Riley for life. I’m ride or die with Briggs and Riley I have a. I have a Brigg’s and Riley bag that’s been in service since 1998. Lifetime warranty. I know I sold a bunch to people. My wife and I have a complete set of them. They’re just I love the attitude of the company because you know they are lifetime guarantee and sometimes they do break and we’ve sent them back to the repair service. And what Briggs and Riley does is they use that as market research. If they get a lot of bags coming back with the same defect the next iteration of that line of luggage isn’t going to have that defect. And you know I’m ride or die with Briggs and Riley.
[00:08:48] Do you have any special travel clothing?
[00:08:50] Like that you know for shorter domestic flights. I don’t really care much but I have two things travel with them on transatlantic flights and then I’m actually going to Ireland in two days. And so I will be certainly packing those I always travel with compression socks.You know regardless of the help things you hear I just feel better. And the second thing I have is this. It’s called the Burton travel hoodie and it’s a thick zip up hoodie that’s designed for travelers.
[00:09:19] It’s got thumb holes in the wrists your hands are cold so you can sort of you know let them do a little extra warmth for the runners will know what I’m talking about. Passport pockets. It’s got a neck pillow built into it and it’s got a black mesh. When you put the foot up there’s a black mesh that you pull over your face that you can that will block out the light and it makes you look a little scary frankly which is good because I don’t want people talking to me.
[00:09:45] You have this carry on bag. What is in it? If you had to dump it out. What would I find inside of it?
[00:09:52] So I travel with two bags. I have a Briggs and Riley roller board of varying sizes, I use the International roller board which will fit on most regional jets and it’s required certainly if you’re on an international flight and I have a I have a backpack as well. So in my in my carry on got you know enough shirts for however many days I’m going to be there I’ll typically wear a blazer. If it’s a two three day trip I’ll wear a blazer or not pack one. If it’s longer I’ll pack one. I’ve always got workout gear. I’ve always got sneakers. I will if I’m going on long trips I’ll take two two maybe three pair of ex officio underwear which wash out really well in the sink and dry quickly. I went to Dubai for a couple of weeks pairs of underwear and did just fine. And I also have some packets of detergent that it’s like a wash of the same kind of detergent that I take with me. I travel with, I’m a big audio freak you probably know that I travel in my roller board. I’ve got a Bang and Olufsen A1 Bluetooth speaker which sounds incredible punches incredible weight for its size. And then in my computer bag I’m never without a really good pair of headphones. And tomorrow I’m traveling with a Bang Olufsen wireless Bluetooth noise canceling H9s which have had great noise cancelling but more important even better sound. So that’s that’s always in my bag.
[00:11:25] Do you have any favorite travel gadgets or apps that you use every time you travel?
[00:11:30] Gadget wise other than my laptop and any kind of audio gear I might have the two things that are generally in my bag. There’s a I use a big power brick it’s a Tzumi power juice power I think it’s called and it’s at 20000 milliamp hour external battery that’s got lightning USB-c and a couple of U.S. ports. I hate having to find outlets all the time. And this thing it’s it’s not. It’s not too large for something it has as much juice but it will charge my laptop, it’ll charge my phone about ten times. So I like not being beholden upon finding outlets so that’s generally in my bag.
[00:12:13] I do have this great little very compact power strip that has three power outlets and four USB plugs on it typically use that on the plane, it’s a little Belkin one yeah and it works great. I use in it planes a lot especially like if you fly a lot of Delta there will be two outlets for three seats. And so I make friends with people by by sharing my outlet accordingly.
[00:12:38] And then sometimes I travel with this little travel router or it say it’s called the RAV power file hub and it’s it’s about the size of a deck of cards and it’s a little Swiss army knife it’s got a SD card and U.S. beef port readers. It’s got about 5000 milliamp hours of battery. It can be used as a an external file server and it can be used as a as a an actual Wi-Fi router and sometimes that’s good enough in hotels if they have only ethernet cable or something like that which can often be true internationally. That only has an ethernet port. I just pop in the ethernet cable and I can create my own Wi-Fi network for five devices so depending on where I go or stick that in my back to. That’s a that’s a sneaky little Swiss army knife for travelers.
[00:13:25] You know everybody has to be loyal to one of the big chains for the bulk of your travel. And I’m I’m a Hilton person so I find to have a good mix of you know upmarket hotels in larger cities and then there are downmarket properties and smaller cities are pretty good. But the other thing that I do a lot. And again I mentioned this earlier. I try to travel easy because it takes miles off of me and adds years back. I belong to a service called Tablet plus and it say it’s kind of a concierge service for boutique hotels. It’s like 200 dollars a year to join. It’s basically all the hotels you can book through tablet plus are there vetted boutique hotels and they don’t necessarily have to be expensive hotels. But there are some of them can be quirky and some of them of course are luxury hotels. But the deal with tablet classes it’s not that you save any money it’s not more expensive it’s you know you’re just paying rockery basically. But tablet plus members get get a free room upgrade whenever it’s available they get a late checkout they’ll typically get some kind of coupon for food and beverage, maybe a credit at the spa. And you know a free cocktail when you get there and you know all of that stuff just makes me feel civil. So I like it when it makes sense. And they’re not you know so expensive that I can’t pass it on to a client. And I will book something through Tablet but for years.
[00:14:59] I’ve done international travel forever. I struggled mightily with jetlag. You know jetlag can just can just make me comatose. I came back from Tokyo once and I was literally a useless human for a week. But then I heard something from Anderson Cooper of all people who does lots of international travel to cover the news. And he gave me permission to do something which I always wanted to do anyway. And that’s this travel is fatiguing. Travel is really, really tiring. You don’t have to change time zones to be wiped after a three hour flight or running around from hotel a hotel. So I do what Anderson Cooper does. I sleep whenever I want to. I throw away the rules of the day. Oh you’ve got to stay up till 9:00 p.m. or you don’t eat until whenever. I don’t care I just say you know what I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.
[00:15:47] And that means I get up at 3:00 a.m. I get up at 3:00 a.m. I don’t really care. I sleep when I sleep and I’m lucky. You know I do make some rules. I don’t I never schedule anything on landing day. So if I have a busy day I’m I mean the day before I have understanding clients. I do a lot of work in the Middle East they know that you know I don’t I don’t start meetings until 2:00 in the afternoon with them. That’s just as a standing thing because you know I can make it. If it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m going to make it. But yeah I just say screw all the jetlag rules. I sleep on I’m tired.