01 Apr 2016

How to turn business travel into a multi-sensory experience

Written by:  Patricia Andraos, Debut’s Director of Marketing & Business Development 

Are you on the road a lot for work? Spending more time out of the office than in it? Perhaps you’ve been traveling so much, you’re starting to find it exhausting instead of exhilarating? Now is as good a time as any to re-frame the way you think about travel. Engaging your senses while traveling not only ensures you’ll enjoy the place you’re working in, it’s also likely to inspire you to achieve more creative outcomes in the work you’re doing.

Here is a guide to engaging the senses while traveling for business:

TASTE something traditional … more than once!


Wienerschnitzel at Heilig Geist

Last month while in Germany for a client meeting, we took it upon ourselves to eat as much schnitzel as possible. Not only was it delicious, but we also had the opportunity to experience the many ways this traditional dish can be prepared and served. Seeing how one traditional dish could be transformed in so many ways, motivated us to continue looking at “traditional” elements of our business in new and inspired light.

SEE something beautiful

Graffiti Wall Montreal

Grafiti Mural in Montreal, Quebec

Have some free time between meetings or in the evenings? Rather than retiring to your hotel room for a rest, take a walk through a non-touristy neighborhood, visit a local art
gallery, a piece of public art, or a culturally significant neighbourhood. The more you get out and “see” the more inspiration you’ll find. We find getting out of your hotel room—scheduling in play-time—yields the best inspirations. Checking out a publication like Time Out or asking the hotel concierge when you arrive in a city is the best way to know what’s going on and what not to miss.


Listening to music, the sound of a fountain, or the bantering of a local talk radio station is often a great way to re-gain focus, take a break, or even brush up on a foreign language. Listening to music has been shown to be especially powerful when it comes to engaging the brain. That’s why we carefully curate music for each of our events—rather than relying on generic playlists. While traveling, if you have an evening off, find the best music venue in whatever city you’re visiting and treat yourself to a live performance—your brain will thank you. In New Orleans we made sure to check out the local Jazz scene at the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club to hear the best local Jazz talent.



Get out of your hotel and sit in a local cafe to get your work done.

Stop and SMELL the roses

The smell of freshly baked croissants, a rose garden in bloom, or a fishing port on a hotsummer’s day, all elicit certain memories and emotions. Smells are something that we tend to take for granted. They’re everywhere and part of every experience, yet we rarely pay attention to them. Research shows scents can impact our moods, stress levels, information recall, cognitive and physical performance, and sleep—among other things. We’re just starting to realize the benefits of consciously integrating scents into meetings and events. Next time you’re in a new city, stop for a moment and find the scents specific to the places you’re visiting. Take time to really appreciate them—be it the sweet smell of fresh treats coming from the local bakery at 6am, the powerful aromatic scent of a local flower at a botanical garden, or the salty humid sea air that immerses you as you enjoy a quaint meal on a patio overlooking the ocean.

Go for a HANDS-ON experience.


Many interactive experiences at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Engaging your tactile senses can be a whole lot of fun. Instead of experiencing a city or country has from afar, why not go up close and feel it for yourself. The more interactive your experience, the more engaged you’ll feel and the more likely you are to remember it. Tactile experiences can be had in all sorts of places including markets and bazaars, hands-on museums, winery tours, pick-you-own farms, and local cooking classes. Nexttime you’re feeling bored or uninspired and don’t know what to do with yourself on a business trip, roll up your sleeves and feel your way through the city or town you’re traveling to.

Engaging the five senses is something we all do subconsciously when we travel, but instead of tuning them out—as we tend to do when we’re busy and preoccupied—tune in to your senses and watch your inspiration and productivity soar.

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