Meet Bryan Koontz. Bryan is the CEO and Founder of Guidefitter, and natural inventor with nearly 20 years of experience taking new software and Internet solutions to market. On a daily basis, you will find him maintaining his companies’ overall operations, strategic direction and product advancements. Here are his top tips for business travel.
What are 3 essentials, besides your phone and laptop, that you bring on every trip?
I always travel with a charging brick (so I can keep my mobile phone charged on the fly vs. looking around for an outlet), small in-ear headphones (for music, movies, or the occasional crying baby on a flight), and a bag of almonds or a Larabar for a quick healthy snack vs. a greasy burger or other airport food.
Do you prefer hotels or Airbnbs (or other vacation rentals) for business travel? Why?
I went through an Airbnb phase for a while, but nowadays for business travel, I’m back to preferring hotels for several reasons. For starters, traveling across various time zones leads to arriving at all hours of the night; hotels allow us to check-in at any time without the need to coordinate in advance with the host. Secondly, I like the convenience of access to a restaurant, laundry services (so that you can pack light), and a gym. Airbnb’s typically do not offer that. But there are times when the cost of the Airbnb is superior and of course they almost always offer much more room to spread out vs. a cramped hotel room. And when traveling with several other people, such as for trade shows, Airbnb’s are often the better choice and provide a great place to relax and chat in the evenings.
Where has been your favorite place you have stayed?
That’s a tricky one – but two different places come to mind, and they are quite the opposite of each other. First is the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in downtown Munich. It’s a classic German hotel that is privately owned and not part of a large chain. The indoor pool and spa area is incredible, and they offer a rooftop restaurant/ bar, complete with a fireplace, that offers spectacular views of the Munich skyline. I love this hotel and you can almost always find a great deal on one of the discount travel websites.
The second is the Corral Motel near Big Sky, Montana, on the Gallatin road that connects Bozeman, Montana to West Yellowstone, Montana. The Corral is an old-school, log-cabin-type motel, that features a rustic bar and restaurant with an eclectic crowd. Ski bums, cowboys, hunting outfitters, other locals and tourists fill the restaurant and bar area, shooting pool, eating steaks and drinking beer or boozy cocktails. It’s the kind of place where people leave their trucks unlocked and running in the parking lot to pop in for a coffee or a beer. The last time I stayed there, I spooked a mule deer in the parking lot when I opened my door in the early am to head back to Bozeman.
Do you manage to find time to enjoy the destination “off the clock”?
I almost always try to do this when possible, especially for international travel. Often, my flights take me through Munich, Frankfurt or Rome, so I’ve been building in an extra day or so in those destinations when I can to enjoy the city in the morning or to grab a great meal out before traveling on to my final destination. Even when traveling domestically, I try to build in a little off the clock time each day to recharge.
What’s your most memorable “off the clock” travel moment?
Once while shooting an episode of Guidefitter TV, near White Sulphur Springs, Montana, my guide, Lenny Miller, and our cameraman, Robert Price, and I decided to camp for the night in a deep canyon on a remote ranch. We had been watching a large elk herd for the past few days, and realized our best opportunity to get within archery range of the dominant herd bull first thing in the morning would be to spend the night in their backyard. As the temperatures began to drop, we pitched a tipi in an opening by a stream, surrounded by pine trees and a rock cliff wall. All of us were a little on edge because we knew the rancher had seen mountain lions nearby and just days earlier, we saw a large black bear in the same canyon. We made beds of pine bows (the tipi had no floor) and started a fire in a titanium, packable wood stove inside the tipi. It started to snow as we ate freeze dried camp food and the sun tucked down behind the rock cliff wall. We could hear elk bugling in the distance, and as we crawled into our sleeping bags that circled the wood stove, Lenny pulled out his loaded .357 pistol and placed it in the middle of the tipi saying, “Just in case, boys, you know where to find it.” All night, we heard animals walking outside the tipi, including mewing cow elk and other critters that filled our imagination. Fortunately, we never had to reach for the pistol, surviving a freezing cold night in the middle of nowhere in Montana.
What frustrates you the most about constant travel?
What bothers me the most about frequent travel is the time wasted dealing with flight delays, airport security, taxi/Uber rides, and so on. Also, frequent travel makes it impossible to establish a solid routine for healthy eating and exercise. I enjoy Crossfit, and frequent travel makes it especially challenging to stay in a good routine for hitting the Crossfit box. That being said, when possible I do try to drop-in to a local Crossfit box in whatever city I’m in. But even then, early am breakfast meetings followed later in the day by business dinners sometimes makes even this challenging or impossible.
How do you make this easier for yourself?
Much of making this easier is all about setting proper expectations with yourself and doing your best not to make excuses. It’s easy to make excuses, eat poorly and not exercise when constantly on the road. But there are ways to work around this, eat as healthy as you can (almonds and Larabars!), and build in time for yourself to get even a 30 min workout done in your hotel room before a meeting.
When you retire and no longer have to travel for business, which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
My top destinations are as follows: New Zealand (those mountains), Norway (to see the northern lights), and the Bora Bora islands in French Polynesia (would love to scuba dive and relax in the iconic bungalows perched over the water). Petit St. Vincent has also been on my list for a while.
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