Business travel tips and recommendations from Rapport Worldwide's CEO

Mike Cooper, CEO of Rapport Worldwide – Roomorama blog

City guide: Los Angeles

Michael lives in Brooklyn, NY and is currently CEO of Rapport Worldwide, a company that specialises in ‘Out of Home’ media around the world. They plan and buy client campaigns on billboards, buses, subway systems and digital networks in a variety of lifestyle locations around the world. Being someone who is constantly flying off to different places for work, Michael shares with us some travel tips, as well as where his favourite destination is and why.

A lot of your travel is for work, which after a while gets tiring I'm sure. How do you continue making business travel enjoyable?

It’s tough when you’ve seen every movie on the plane from the new releases to the Bollywood classics; it gets exciting near the beginning of the month, when there may be an updated library. Travel has changed with the inclusion of the internet on planes, it used to be my only haven, now I spend a lot of time reading and replying to emails. I always have a few good books on my iPad. The plane is also often the only place I have the chance to sleep, so if I can catch 40 winks that’s great.

How many times a month do you travel?

It varies, I’d say on average I’m flying somewhere every 2 weeks at a minimum, usually around the United States, but international trips are stepping up as we grow.

Are there any insider tips or tricks to get upgraded or get better service?

I’m afraid it all seems to come down to loyalty programs now. You can try and book flights at the busiest times, hoping they are over-booked, but the regular fliers will almost always get upgraded first. I’m not sure a smile and compliment to an attendant at the gate will do you any good these days? If you meet half way, by booking Premium Economy, you have might have more chance of getting bumped up to Business. Chances are, whatever you book, you'd have to suck it up and try and get comfy.

What are the things about your accommodation that matter most to you on a business trip?

The bed!! I often start the day early and end late. It’s not rare for me to be up at 3am in NYC and go to bed at midnight in LA, which is 3am in NYC so I would've been going 24 hours. I could probably sleep on a block of ice at that point, but it does help to have a really comfy bed to collapse into.

Second would be the food. If it’s late and I’m still working I'm happy with just having a sandwich in my room. Nothing fancy required, but at least fresh ingredients and not a reheated burger (as has happened before).

What do you do with all the miles you must have accumulated?

They can be a perk of the job, I often use them to upgrade if I have a long or late flight. My miles have paid for a trip to Miami for me and my fiancé a when we wanted a long weekend away during the month of February in NYC.

Where do you travel to most for work?

Most of the major cities in the US but I guess LA is my most frequent destination. We have a big team there and several of our largest clients are on the West Coast.

Where do you recommend to eat and drink there?

The Soho House in LA is excellent, and ironically it’s the least pretentious of the chain. The list is kind of endless. I love Katsuya or Koi for Asian food. Wolfgang Pucks ‘Cut’ does an amazing steak but it’s very expensive. For a cheaper dinner that’s a close run, grab a steak at BOA in Santa Monica.

If I have the time, I like taking a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and have a cocktail while enjoying a great sunset at Moondshadows which also happens to overlook the ocean. Also, if I have time before an early flight I try and grab some eggs at Nate n’ Al, an original all-American diner in Beverley Hills, for breakfast.

Katsuya BOA Nate n’ Al

Pictured above: Katsuya (credit: Katsuya), BOA (credit: Gina Douglas Tarnacki), Nate n’ Al (credit: ZAGAT)

Do you have a sort of ritual, given how often you travel?

Not so much a ritual, but I guess I always get an early night and I always get to the airport early as I’m paranoid about missing flights. I’m pretty organised, so I always have everything packed and prepared the night before, even laying out what I’m going to wear and placing everything I need on the side table. My assistant Yasmin is amazing and always prints out a full itinerary including my boarding passes and car reservations etc. In truth, I’m ridiculously OCD!

What are your travel essentials?

  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Keys (with a USB on the key ring that has any files I might need).

I figure if I make sure I always have these, anything else can be replaced quite easily should it be lost or stolen. As a fifth maybe gym gear, exercise is the best jet lag cure and it keeps you out of the hotel bar.

What are your must-dos on every trip?

Professionally speaking it’s different every trip. If I’m in a new city and there is an iconic thing to see, I try and do it. When I was in New Orleans, I rushed to Bourbon Street for half an hour. In Washington I visited the monuments. Cheesy, but in a new city I always get a fridge magnet, I’m gathering quite a collection on a cabinet in my office.

Stylish places to stay in LA

This beautiful apartment is very central for everything Venice. A perfect place to stay with friends and family.

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