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Away on Business: Bringing it home

Some business travelers take advantage of their trips to collect everything from clocks to friends.
/ Source: Reuters

As business travelers jet around the world collecting air miles and new cities, they have the opportunity to accumulate other things, from objects d’art to adventures to fresh acquaintances. An antique Georgian carriage clock, elephant-back safari or a celebrity sighting can all make for fascinating conversation in the boardroom or at corporate social events.

It's good business sense for frequent travelers to remain open to any possibility to build contacts, broaden their knowledge or learn how to spot a valuable investment.

Buying beautiful things during his world travels helps Claudio Zancani remember where he has been.

The senior software executive for San Francisco-based Embarcadero Technologies, now conducts business mainly in California and New York, but he has many reminders from past trips.

Zancani’s job used to take him abroad 20 to 30 times a year to places such as England, Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea. He rarely came back empty-handed.

“In Italy, I bought furniture for myself, and from Japan I brought back Samurai-type swords, paintings and teapots — some for me, some as presents for friends or colleagues,” Zancani said. “Besides being beautiful, the objects are a reminder of where I’ve been and why people should travel.”


Sharing Zancani’s appreciation of what the world has to offer is London-based insurance executive John Trew.

InsertArt(1823144)As a director of Britannia Ship Owners Insurance, Trew spends about three months of the year on the road, principally in India, Italy, the United States and Japan, where he has purchased prints, woodcuts and other items for his home.

But his favorite place to shop is an international venue in his native England.

“The most recent thing I got was a sapphire and ruby ring for my wife at the last British Antique Dealers’ Association Fair,” Trew said.

The annual fair, featuring 100 dealers and items such as paintings, clocks, ceramics, textiles, jewelry and furniture, this year takes place Mar 19-25 in London’s Chelsea district.

“Novices and collectors alike can learn from the experts, increase their knowledge of art and antiques and purchase something of enduring beauty and value,” says Gillian Craig, the fair’s organizer, who adds that antiques — such as, perhaps, a George IV wine funnel from 1827 — are replacing the proverbial gold watch as a company reward for a job well done.

“A fine antique or work of art as a corporate gift can send a message more eloquent than even the most luxurious gift from a high-profile retailer,” said Craig.


While picking up potential treasures can be an excellent investment, many other rewarding opportunities exist for globe-trotting executives.

  • Business travelers to India can hone their boardroom jungle skills with the real thing — an educational Save the Tiger trip that takes them into the heart of tiger habitat. The 10th annual trip, March 21-April 6, will be led by veteran guide Brian Weirum, who developed the series for Mountain Travel Sobek ( in 1994, with profits donated to The Fund for the Tiger, a California-based nonprofit public charity that funds anti-poaching patrols.
  • Conservation minded guests at Sun International hotels near the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia, can go on an elephant-back safari along the Zambezi River in a national park.“These adventures enhance the African experience and are very much in line with the conservation of wildlife and the environment,” says Boris Bornman, general manager of Sun International’s two-hotel resort.
  • Ecology-conscious travelers heading for Central America might choose to stay at a place such as the Kapawi EcoLodge and Reserve, in the Ecuadoran Amazon. The state-of-the-art project was built in partnership with the indigenous Achuar Indians and without the use of a single metal nail. Selected by a panel of global environmentalists, it was awarded the first annual Skal International Eco Tourism Award.
  • Described as a “natural hunting ground for interior decorators, collectors and museum curators” London’s Spring Fine Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia, Feb. 25 to March 2, offers visitors the chance to “bag” a 9-foot crocodile made from bottle tops by South African artist Robert Barley, a 17th-Century Portuguese silk bedspread, or a pair of 18th Century Chinese palace doors with massive iron handles. (
  • In the celebrity-studded urban jungles of New York City, the Showbiz Insiders Tour is the first to take visitors behind the scenes of hit television and Broadway productions, allowing them to meet Broadway actors such as Steven Blanchard, the ”Beast” in “Beauty and the Beast” or go backstage at the New Amsterdam Theatre, home of Disney’s “The Lion King.” “It gives an insider’s perspective through the heart of New York City entertainment giants and a glimpse at the magic of stage and screen,” says Tom Lewis, president of Gray Line New York Sightseeing. (