Once an exciting, luxury experience that inspired creativity and connection, business travel can now be synonymous with stress — at least the travel aspect. After all, airport hassles, such as waiting in security lines, boarding crowded flights and desperately trying to locate an outlet, don’t exactly facilitate productivity.
But what to do when you have a job that demands elevated creativity and supreme focus, as well as a lot of time in the air? To get a better grasp on how to make the most of travel time, we interviewed Guen Goik, augmented reality lead at RYOT, a next-generation content studio, and frequent business traveler. Based in Los Angeles, Goik pitches and designs products for the agency’s mobile-focused augmented reality offerings — anything from innovative creative formats to interactive experiences and editorially-driven pieces.
Having worked in major motion pictures and television shows, Goik’s projects often require her to travel while simultaneously juggling client deadlines and deliverables. In her line of work, privacy is important — and can be hard to come by in a crowded public place like an airport.
Given her responsibilities and circumstances, the airport lounge becomes a crucial asset. We interviewed Goik to learn a bit about her work-travel process and approach to squeezing as much inspiration out of business travel as possible.
How does travel inspire your work?
Visiting other places helps me come up with better ideas — getting out of your everyday physical space gets you out of your everyday headspace, as well. Interacting with people in other satellite offices or external partners gives you new points of view that you can take home, mull over, and incorporate to build a more appealing product. It’s hard to get that from a video call or an email chain.
Can you quickly talk about your process and why an airport (of all places!) is actually a great spot to hunker down and execute some of your projects?
I narrow down to a few priorities if I want to get work done between flights. Since I do a lot of visual development and tech-heavy work, I need a physical space to fit my equipment, such as my computer and mouse, but I also need power, strong internet and privacy. I do a lot of work for advertising clients and I can’t have somebody looking over my shoulder and recognizing a brand in front of me. The same applies to VFX and TV shows, as well. So having a location where I can spread out a little bit and still be sheltered from prying eyes is very important to me.
You’re talking about the high-backed chairs and privacy cubbies, stuff like that?
Exactly. And I should also add that airport lounges have the benefit of being pretty timeless. It’s OK if I walk in somewhere early in the morning or late at night and get straight to business, and I can grab a coffee, and maybe that’s just what I needed at that time. So the ability to shut out the noise and bustle of the airport and get things done in a maybe one-to-three-hour period is very useful. So they’re timeless, but they’re also background-noise buzzy, which means that I don’t have to be absolutely quiet and whisper into my phone or computer for a meeting. I can make a comfortable amount of noise without having anybody listen in.
As long as there’s good wifi, right?
That’s an important point: While most of the time there is internet access on the plane, the speed is not sufficient for what I do — I can’t send images, or pass files back and forth, and I do not want to worry about that overnight in the air.
As a team lead, I’m sure work emergencies can pop up at any given moment, even (or especially) when you’re on a flight or about to board the plane.
Oh yes, putting out fires. Happens all the time. You can make a screen recording or you write up a spec sheet but, in your absence, something comes up that you didn’t account for, and you need to do a screenshare and walk somebody else through it, or give them an example from your own computer. Having not just the internet bandwidth available, but the sacred space at a lounge to check out, focus on the problem, give it your full attention and check back in (and not worry about your luggage walking off while you’re super engaged in something) is essential.
So we’ve been talking about lounges-as-all-business. But how about fun? Has anything ever happened to you that was especially memorable from a leisure standpoint?
Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in airports all over the place. And you know, I definitely have increased the amount of time I spend at airports. Getting there and having the peace of mind that you’re not going to miss your flight for whatever reason, especially with the traffic here at LAX. I’d rather check in through security, sit down, regroup and focus on something else for a little while, and then go get on a plane. None of this last-minute-rushing-trying-to-fly-through- security-and-running-up-to-the-gate nonsense. So I’ll get there an hour or two before my flight boards and I’ll eat there, maybe have a drink. It’s a place I’ve started looking forward to going to, an extension of the office. It’s like another break room.
Any standout lounges from your trips?
My favorite would probably be a Delta Sky Club in the Honolulu airport, on our way to Narita, Japan. What was supposed to be a three-hour layover turned into an overnight layover. We used the time in the Honolulu lounge to recover physically from the trip from the east coast to Hawaii, regroup, and plan our bonus night in Hawaii. We figured out that we could squeeze in a hike at six in the morning before our flight out the next day. And of course, the showers there — very helpful when you are going from one place to another and need to be presentable on the other side.
Any other surprise areas of inspiration?
The food, which is great. I just had some of the best food I’ve ever had in a China Airlines lounge in Taipei. It was a salted duck egg. I saw that, and I realized I’d gone the entire time in Taipei without eating a salted duck egg, and it was so good that I went back for more — and of course it was 5:30 in the morning. Also, the Spam sushi in the Hawaiian airport.
Business travel doesn’t need to stressful or disruptive: SkyTeam lounges are the perfect place to catch up on work, have a meeting or to simply relax. With more than 750 locations worldwide and amenities that range from business centers and wifi to spa services and showers, SkyTeam lounges let you leave the chaos of the airport terminal behind and help you enjoy the journey.