Extending the Pleasure Principle.

Position:Tricky management decisions

Extending the Pleasure Principle

Combining business with pleasure always reminds me of that felicitous French custom, near the end of a meal, of asking for a little cheese to finish off the wine, followed, of course, by more wine to finish off the cheese...

Not that you have to look very far these days for an excuse to build a holiday on the back of a business trip. Or vice versa. Airlines, tour operators and hotel chains are all hard at work undermining the Puritan Work Ethic with a smorgasbord of special offers for the "business extender," ranging from half-price hotel rooms (with "welcome" fruit baskets, flowers, Champagne and a "personal thank-you" from the assistant deputy house manager) to elaborately packaged mini-vacations (with "gourmet" dinners, tickets to a show, golf and tennis), insidiously favoring double occupancy. There's something for most tastes and proclivities, from parachuting and falconry to competition ludo. One of the wackiest weekend breaks I've come across is a "final fling" for divorcing couples (with an optional solicitor at the final dinner) at a hotel in Essex.

How you rationalize it is up to you; the pause that refreshes or as a buffer for the rest and recreation to get your act together for vital meetings -- especially in a new time zone -- or in the cause of saving money. The Saturday night obligation on excursion fares becomes an opportunity for a weekend break with half-price hotel rooms in many business cities.

Successful business extension needs both a strategic and tactical approach. Look after long haul trips and the side trips will look after themselves. You could describe the ideal extension as a kind of planned surprise getaway - the paradox is that thoughtful preparation can lead to impromptu discoveries.

First plan your long haul itinerary for opportunistic stopovers. If you are flying business of full economy you may be able to earn a free airline package, say, in Madrid or Copenhagen, as a reward for flying through those hubs. Or combine a money-saving point-to-point fare on the way back with multiple stops on the way out. Always point out how much you're saving the company. ("In that case, Howard, you may as well take Fiona along." Or, "As long as you're in Hong Kong, Howard...") Piggyback as far as you can on expenses, and then take off with a local airpass or series of excursion tickets.

Extending within Europe can involve some tricky management decisions. Let's say it's Friday in Vienna and your next...

To continue reading