High-flyers move backroom deals to loftier locations

The sky is just one of many odd spots for business talks, writes Adam Courtenay.

The sky is just one of many odd spots for business talks, writes Adam Courtenay.

We all like to build rapport with contacts and clients, but where do we go to seal the deal? A haunted house? Skydiving? In a queue for the toilet? The zoo? These days, anything goes.

Serviced office and virtual space provider Regus has released a worldwide survey of the strangest meeting places in which to conduct business. It says that as a provider of meeting places, it needed to look at all the options.

In Hong Kong it found the top 10 strangest places included a military tank, an ice bar, a ham-drying facility, a shrimp farm, a slaughterhouse, a stairwell and a hot spring.

Australians, it seems, have a preference for the great outdoors.

Among the answers from the 438 Australians canvassed were a bomb shelter, a garden shed (complete with redback spider), and the bottom of a Tasmanian copper mine. There was the photographer who met the marketing manager of a reptile park while an angry crocodile was being subdued metres away. Another respondent was happy to meet at a former prisoner of war camp.

"My client was a farmer in the middle of harvesting and due to climatic conditions had to keep going for 24 hours," said one. "So the meeting took place at 11pm in his tractor while he continued to reap wheat."

Whatever happened to cafes, bars and pubs? Of course, these featured in the responses, as did street corners, restaurants, parks and the back of taxis. Aussies may be pleased to know the traditional meeting place of American high-flyers - the golf course - featured in only six responses.

Overwhelmingly, Australians prefer the beach.

John Henderson, director of Regus Asia Pacific, says meetings in unusual places often happen by chance.

"Two people might have bumped into each other in a certain strange spot and decided to have a meeting," he says. "Or it could simply be because there is somewhere interesting nearby."

Otherwise, he says, offbeat meetings tend to happen for privacy.

There has been a global shift towards flexible working methods and times, and most of us can contact people anywhere, any time.

My Small Business did its own voxpop.

Jocelyn Hunter, of BENCH PR in Melbourne, claims client Vaughan Rowsell, who runs software provider Vend, has done business "in flight" with Russell Brown from Sydney Skydivers.

Ben Neumann, of Liquid Infusion, cleared a deal in a dodgem car - and he sent a photograph to prove it.

Neumann says he did it all with an iPad, taking notes - as one does - in the midst of collisions. He did admit to feeling a little dizzy afterwards.

John O'Keefe, who runs Melbourne ad agency O'Keefe Communications, chose the Phar Lap exhibition at the Melbourne Museum for an important meeting.

"Under the cover of Phar Lap, my agency was born and is still operative," he says. "Unlike Phar Lap, I'm not yet stuffed."

However, the winning story was from Natalie Clays, who works at Allen Carr's stop-smoking program. She had a work conference at a country house in Kent, England. It was said that Anne Boleyn, beheaded by Henry VIII, had been a regular visitor to the house.

"During a meeting with my managing director, the lights flashed on and off several times and every clock in the house stopped, but all at different times," Clays says.

"Later that night in the bathroom, head over the sink brushing my teeth, I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. There was nobody there."

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