After about 20 years of traveling around the world for business and some for pleasure, it’s rare to go to a place where I’ve never been to before. Next week, I’ll be going to Abu Dhabi for 9 days to support a tradeshow and seek out new business opportunities.
As I prepare for my trip to a new place next week, I look back on how I prepared for my first trips 20 years ago. Today, there is simply a wealth of information available that I don’t feel like I’m going somewhere without being intimately familiar with the area. I can read tripadvisor to give me a summary of my hotel room. I do a quick online search about business culture practices in Abu Dhabi and I get 100K’s of hits on information. I scan through satellite imagery to get familiar with the surroundings. I haven’t left yet and already I feel like I know the area.
However, as I’ve learned over 20 years, no matter how much you read, scan or study about an area, there is simply no better experience than being there. And I know I’ve read through all I can, but the moment I am there, attending my first meetings, walking the streets, looking at stores, I’ll get that first hand experience that may or may not match my readings. There is no substitute for that direct experience.
The last things left to research is where can I get my SIM card so I can get my iPad online, make mobile phone calls as if I’m still at home, and the current weather so I know what to pack.
I look forward to sharing my experiences from Abu Dhabi in a few weeks.
-P. Shah (Global Strategy and Execution)