Top tips for the best, and most enjoyable, roadshows

May 12, 2017
<p>Seasoned IROs discuss how to have fun on the road&nbsp;</p>

At a glance

Organized fun
One perk of working in IR is the chance to see the world – but constant travel can be tough, which is why it’s important to incorporate fun into roadshows.

Travel benefits
Creating time for some entertainment not only helps everyone to relax and get along but also allows IR to spend valuable social time with management.

Not going out
Nights out aren’t the only way to add fun. One dual roadshow (involving two firms) saw the participants bond over poker in the airport lounge.

 

One reason Greg Waller, senior vice president of IR & strategic analysis for Teck Resources in Vancouver, schedules the annual investor trip to Asia for the first week in April is so that he and his management team can cap off the travel and one-on-ones with a day watching Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong.

‘There generally isn’t that much time to incorporate ‘fun’ into these trips,’ Waller points out. ‘So many involve being in one city in one day, doing your meetings and going to the airport – and often dinner is on the plane.’ Researching the places he’s visiting, however, lets him make the most of leisure time.

Pat Marshall, vice president of communications & IR at Cineplex Entertainment in Toronto, agrees. When asked whether it is possible to have fun during a roadshow, she says: ‘I think it’s impossible not to have fun.’ Preferred activities include catching a Red Sox game when in Boston, and eating at a few favorite restaurants in New York.

Marshall believes that taking the time to have fun on IR trips really matters. ‘When you and your business colleagues are glued to each other’s hips, you have to lighten up and laugh at yourself,’ she explains. ‘It makes for easier travel, which makes for better meetings. People have to know that the team is cohesive. We have fun together, and the investors know that. We respect each other and can finish each other’s sentences. Investors know that, too, and it helps to present the company in a better light.’

Social time with management

Nils Paellmann, head of investor relations for T-Mobile US, tries to make roadshows more memorable by visiting museums or new attractions in the cities he visits. He recently spoke to IR Magazine en route to Milwaukee, for instance, where in the past he has visited the Milwaukee Art Museum, which features the Quadracci Pavilion designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Beyond the sights, though, Paellmann notes that roadshows offer IROs a tremendous opportunity for getting ‘to spend some social time with management – something you don’t always get to do in the office.’

Patrick Kiss, head of investor and public relations for Deutsche EuroShop, recommends tinkering with the traditional roadshow format to make the trips more enjoyable. When traveling to other continents, he has, for instance, successfully gone on dual roadshows. Ideally, he says, a dual roadshow will consist of two companies from a single sector that are not direct competitors. For Deutsche EuroShop, a Hamburg based retail real estate company, that might mean traveling with a residential real estate company. On a recent dual roadshow, Kiss recalls that the two IROs and management teams built friendships, even playing poker together as they waited for their flights.

Planning is paramount

There’s an old chestnut that it takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless – and this proves true for the best roadshows. If the IRO and management team enjoy themselves during an investor marketing trip, that’s usually because considerable effort has been expended on logistics, says Martin Liedemit, deputy head of investor relations at BASF in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany.

He recommends building extra time into the schedule when visiting Frankfurt or Paris, for instance, to account for traffic. He favors a roadshow model that includes brokers, but urges IROs to make sure any broker the IR and management teams choose to travel with ‘has some experience with the market. Going with upper management to a market where you or the broker has never been before is a clear no-no.’

Yvette Lokker, president and CEO of CIRI, agrees. ‘You need to make sure you have all the logistics lined up in advance,’ she says. ‘The last thing you want to do is show up and not have a car to take you where you want to go.’ Although she admits there are no hard and fast rules – everything depends on the personalities of those traveling – most people need time to relax: ‘Taking a break and getting some fresh air lets you go back in and be more focused on the questions.’

Marshall, meanwhile, reiterates the importance of viewing roadshows as more than a dreaded duty. ‘I think people are more apt to pick up the phone and call you or email you with a question or concern if they know they’ll enjoy the conversation regardless of the content,’ she concludes. ‘Having fun on roadshows bodes well for the company overall.’ 

Preparing for a no-stress roadshow

When it comes to packing, some IROs are laser-focused on work, making sure they have everything from extra copies of the slide deck to a few back-up phone chargers. Others think more comprehensively, assembling a mix-and-match wardrobe to make life easier on the road. Pat Marshall, vice president of communications & IR at Cineplex Entertainment, has even devised a way to eliminate the chore of packing and unpacking: she keeps a separate bag with personal products and cosmetics earmarked for professional travel packed and ready for her next IR trip.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Take notes: Marshall, who describes herself as ‘a checklist queen’, keeps detailed records of successful aspects of all trips so she can replicate them in the future. What do her lists contain? Everything from helpful hints to favorite restaurants and hotels in particular cities.
  • Pack wisely: Yvette Lokker, president and CEO of CIRI, recommends comfortable footwear and clothes that aren’t prone to wrinkling.
  • Never check in your luggage: ‘Traveling with carry-on only is super-important,’ says Nils Paellmann, head of investor relations for T-Mobile US. ‘Luggage tends to get lost and [retrieving it] slows things down significantly.’
  • Book your travel early: Gone are the days when many IROs traveled first class. Paellmann advises booking early because ‘flights are a lot cheaper and, if you book last minute, you end up with the middle seat in the back of the plane in Economy.’
  • Try to beat the lines at airports: Greg Waller, senior vice president of IR & strategic analysis for Teck Resources, recommends having a Nexus card [a type of frequent flyer program], ‘so when you travel back and forth between the US and Canada you get through customs and immigration much more quickly than standing in conventional lines.’ He also suggests applying for TSA PreCheck, which speeds up security screening. ‘If you can minimize the grief aspect of travel, it makes the whole experience a lot more bearable,’ he observes.
  • Consider train travel: In Europe or the northeast of the US, traveling by train can be just as fast as by plane – and far more memorable, says Patrick Kiss, head of investor and public relations for Deutsche EuroShop. He and his management team have, for instance, traveled from Zurich to Milan by train, ‘enjoying a panoramic view of the Alps.’

This article appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of IR Magazine. 

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