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  • Ian Showell

What’s in the bag?

I doubt that a consultant’s bag is anything you’ve ever thought about, but I know the first image that comes into my head is something like a soft leather attaché case sitting on the passenger seat of a gleaming Mercedes or similar. Well the reality in my case has more in common with my childhood schoolbag, crammed full of bits and bobs that help me as I visit the various tour operators and travel technology firms I work with. And as for the gleaming Mercedes, well mine travels at the same speed but tends to have 8 carriages and a buffet car.

I recently realised that I rely pretty heavily on the contents of my bag when I am on site with clients. There are some things which come out every time, and other things which I use less often, but make life a whole lot easier. So partly out of my own curiosity, I decided to unpack and take a look at what I found.

Computer bits

Probably the most important thing for any client visit is my laptop. Even if it is just a meeting or discussion, it normally comes out of the bag at least once. With the laptop comes charger, a tiny mouse with retractable wire, an adapter for use when I am in Europe/America (not sure why I carry this round when I don’t carry my passport?!). There’s also a big jumble of headphones, wires and adapters so I can connect things up as needed. One of the most useful things I carry is a USB memory stick – I use it a lot to transfer things onto client machines where email is not appropriate. This little thing has saved the day several times when we have faced technical problems.

Writing it down

I am a big note-taker. Sometimes I work in 5 different places in one week, so I find it invaluable to note things down on paper so I can quickly get back into the work next time I visit. I think taking notes on a computer diminishes the engagement you have with a client when they are present, whereas using paper can actually improve it – they can see what you are writing and you can also draw rough diagrams etc to explain things or work on them together. I recently bought a notebook with coloured sections so I can keep the notes for each client together in the same section. Brilliant!

Internet connection

2 Aardvarks subscribes to a mobile internet contract, separate to my phone. The mifi dongle means that I can access the internet on my laptop whilst travelling to and from clients’ offices. It has also been quite useful inside clients’ offices when there are wifi connectivity problems.

Travelling about

I get the train a lot, and I use the ‘Boris Bikes’ to cycle in central London rather than using the tube. I am normally carrying a helmet, fluorescent jacket, front and rear lights for the cycling, as well as oyster card and railcard for the train.

Sometimes I have to stay away from home, both in the UK and abroad. The loyalty schemes offered by hotels are great – I think I have used points earned on these schemes to pay for nearly every holiday I have had in the last few years. I was surprised how many stowaway hotel pens I found in the bag too!

The rest

Business cards, water bottle, sachets of cup-a-soup (emergency food when you just have to keep going with no lunch!)

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