City Social Magazine

MAR-APR 2019

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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8 By Stafford Wood, Travel Expert Travel photos courtesy of Remi Bonnecaze, Paul Higgins and Debi Russell R E A D U S O N L I N E A T W W W . C I T Y S O C I A L . C O M FOR WORK EPIC Piping CEO Remi Bonnecaze needs a new passport. This will be his fourth new passport in 20 years because he fills up visa pages quickly, even using two extra 24-page books. Thumbing through the pages, you can learn the history of global industry and trade. Brazil, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Turkey, India, Japan, Russia. Remi started college in international trade and finance, eventually graduating from LSU College of Engineering in construction management. He credits much of his successful career to his penchant for volunteering to be the one to go overseas: "Whenever the company needed someone to go, I did." His first international business trip was to Venezuela in 1997, and since then he has racked up hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles. To call him an expert on international air travel feels like an understatement. Traveling internationally for business isn't a vacation. "I want to get there quickly and reliably and get back home," Remi says. From driving to the airport to catch his flight to the moment his return flight lands, he has his travel process down to a science. "I generally fly from BTR because I can get from my house to my gate in 30 minutes. TSA is quick and easy. It's about convenience." Traveling internationally generally means a significant change in time zones. Europe is six or seven hours different, but traveling to Asia or the Middle East really means switching from AM to PM. This transition can be hard for people not used to it. As far as jet lag goes, Remi has a simple set of directions: "Consume very little, if any, alcohol. Drink lots of water. And when you land, work out, be in the sun, go for a run. Force yourself to stay awake that first day and you'll get over jet lag immediately." Since staying awake the first day you land is key and there are a lot of hours to fill on a long flight, Remi recommends sleeping through most of it. The low cabin pressure required on a plane makes sleeping easier than some might guess. Even so, Remi has a routine that helps him get comfortable enough for a nap. He immediately changes into relaxing clothes, takes his contacts out, puts earplugs in and is asleep within minutes. Remi says, "I can easily sleep 10 hours of the flight. I'll watch movies or read a book with the rest of the time." His final tip for having a stress-free flight also answers the most important question — aisle or window? Remi resolutely says, "Aisle. I don't like to step over You CAN Get There from Here BTR Connects Travelers to the World sleeping people. I'd rather they try to step over me." For layovers, he's almost always in a b u s i n e s s l o u n g e , where he can get full meals in most major airports and heavy hors d'oeuvres in the rest. It's relaxing to be in a living room environment instead of the busy corridors of the airport. Even for seasoned pros, international flights can be taxing, so it's important to find ways to be comfortable and unwind a little. These c o m f o r t s a r e especially important for business travelers like Remi who make frequent international trips. Remi's business philosophy guarantees these frequent trips will continue. He believes in building relationships with his customers, and he is happy to travel thousands of miles to ensure they get the best possible service. "I want to make sure our customers know that EPIC is going to take care of them. We're going to do what it takes to make sure their company is successful, and that starts by going to see them regularly. It means a lot to our customers that we're willing to go there and meet face-to-face," Remi says. These days many people choose to do business by phone, email or video call, but Remi sees the value in meeting his customers. The value of an in-person meeting cannot be overstated. By physically being there, you can learn so much about your customer by learning their culture and watching body language. "And likewise they can come to know you and understand who you are, so the subject matter can be properly conveyed," Remi says as he leans forward, making it clear he knows what he's talking about. In the 22 years since his first international flight, Remi has seen the service and comfort levels improve Essential tools of the international business traveler Global Entry: Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports instead of waiting in Customs lines. AmEx Platinum: Offers members global sanctuary with automatic membership in 1,100 airport lounges, no foreign transaction fees and a premiere concierge called Global Assist for medical, legal, financial, and other select emergency coordination and assistance services while traveling more than 100 miles from home. Trip-It: The world's highest-rated travel-organizing app, Trip-It instantly organizes all travel plans in one place. Simply forward confirmation emails and the app will create a master itinerary for each trip with all travel details in one place—for free. The premium service includes additional features like real-time flight alerts, refund notifications, reward points and miles tracking, and even how long it will take to get through airport security. MyTaxi: It's like Uber for Europe, except all of the drivers are licensed taxi cabs or chauffeurs. It offers the ability to schedule, preselect your driver and times and identify costs in advance. Mytaxi was not only the world's first taxi app but, with 45,000 affiliated taxis and more than 10 million downloads to date, it is also the global market leader among taxi apps. It is now available in more than 40 German cities, as well as internationally, in the following cities: Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Zurich, Barcelona, Madrid, Warsaw, and Washington D.C. Because of today's technology, people choose to do business by phone, email or video call, but Remi sees the value in meeting in-person: "It means a lot to our customers that we're willing to go there and meet face-to-face.'' Bonnecaze: "I generally fly from BTR because I can get from my house to my gate in 30 minutes. TSA is quick and easy. It's about convenience." 8 Bonnecaze in Madrid, Spain. Bonnecaze at the Vatican in Rome. Bonnecaze at the Emirates Airbus A380 bar on a recent flight from Dubai to Madrid.

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