Business Travel Beyond Borders: Spotlight on Belinda Zinicola

Business travelers unite! We know you’re on the road and always on the lookout for ways to make the most of your time. We’re on the hunt for the best business travel tips. How can you get through the JFK airport that much quicker? Or make the most of being on the on the road? How can you be alert at your meeting, despite your draining red-eye flight? To gather up these tips, we thought we’d look no further than the business travelers here at Concur. Airplane pretzels are no substitute for a fresh baguette. For a travel veteran like Belinda Zinicola, long-haul flights to Europe sometimes miss that certain je ne sais quoi. Traveling to Paris three or four times a year means she’s grown accustomed to a certain level of French hospitality – something she’s found a way to incorporate in her annual business travels around the world.

Zinicola has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years, working in her role as Concur’s principal expense report program manager since 2002. Her job has her taking care of business in Japan, Australia and several European countries several times per year. On her most recent trip to Paris, she discovered the secret to traveling well on business: sidewalk cafes.

Slow Down and Smell the Cappuccino

“It was the first time I found myself in Paris with nice weather and the French have a lot of corner cafes,” Zinicola says. “So instead of holing up in my hotel, I brought my laptop outside, ordered a latte and watched boats float down the Seine in the sun. It was a great way to work.”

Zinicola now makes time to appreciate the cultures and customs she visits on business in little ways, and thinks connecting with people and places makes her a more patient, open-minded business traveler.

Her outlook helps her in other ways, too, particularly when the going gets rough.

“When the flight is delayed or canceled – I can download a book on my e-reader, or do some work in the lobby,” Zinicola says. “I always try to be patient with the airline staff, no matter how egregious the situation. The more pleasant you are, the better service you’ll get – in any language!”

Let Technology Help

Working globally, a generous data plan and an intelligent smartphone are necessities for Zinicola to be responsive and efficient on email. Her phone also helps her manage her expenses as she goes, taking photos of receipts and uploading them to Concur in real-time.

“I track and capture receipts as I go, so that I can focus on enjoying where I am,” she says. “I get the basics down, and finish the report later.”

When it’s time to close down the email and take a break, Zinicola winds down with a good read. A voracious bookworm, Zinicola relies on an ancient technology to complement her modern e-reader: the library.

“I like to sign up for new titles on the waiting list at my local library – they email me when it becomes available,” Zinicola says. “That way I don’t have to lug around a hard copy, and I can read new books from anywhere in the world.”

Tricks of the Global Travel Trade

As a frequent international flier, Zinicola’s mileage status helps her avoid long security and check-in lines, speeding up the time she spends in the terminal. She’s always on the hunt for a better travel experience, and connects her flier miles on TripIt Pro to make potential seat or status upgrades easy to see in one spot.

When Zinicola checks out of an overseas hotel and heads to the international airport, she pays in leftover local currency – and charges the rest to her credit card. “That way, you’re not walking around with a big wad of Euros you have to keep track of until the next trip.”

Packing for international trips is also a different process. Zinicola rolls her clothes to pack more into her suitcase and takes a little carry-on bag of toiletries that’s easy to grab – there’s always one ‘topped off’ with shampoo, toothpaste and other essentials waiting by her door.

“My system is all about French efficiency – packing the toiletry bag is one less thing to have to remember, so I can focus on enjoying my trip!”

Find more tips from the Concur Business Traveler series.

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