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David J. Danto

 

 

Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion

 

 

 

eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org††††† Follow Video & Technology Industry News: @NJDavidD †††††††

(Read Davidís Bio)†††† (See Davidís CV)††† (Read Davidís Other Blogs & Articles)

 

Another Business Trip

Iíve got an international business trip coming up in a couple of days.A decade or so ago Iíd really be looking forward to the trip.My thinking would be Ďhow cool is it that Iím getting paid to travel to another country because the people there want to hear my expertise.톆 It was like the old Steve Martin joke, ďÖthe most amazing thing isÖI get paid for doing thisÖĒ Nowadays however, Iím dreading the trip.Not because the work is hard (I love it) but because the traveling experience is horribly, terribly awful.Weíve allowed the travel industry - through deregulation and approval of customer unfriendly consolidation Ė to degrade the experience so much that itís almost a better idea to find a career where travel isnít required.

It didnít happen overnight.We didnít have a Sunday where the traveling was great and then Monday morning at 12am it became crappy.The process was gradual.The travelersí experience was similar to the parable of the boiling frog Ė where a frog is smart enough to jump out of a pot of boiling water, but if placed in a pot of cold water with the temperature raised gradually, the frog doesnít notice till itís too late.†† We business travelers are certainly being boiled by the travel industry right now.†† Just look at the travel news on any recent day for proof: passengers are being dragged off planes, threatened by crews, stranded in cities, sleeping in airports, etc.Airline CEOs are continually apologizing for something, and yet doing nothing to improve the experience if it means that they and their shareholders would make a penny less.In fact, the heartless, short-sighted people that pass for airline management are actually planning to make things even worse.American Airlines has announced that they are adding seats and reducing the legroom for each seat on their flights.The other airlines will surely follow.United (and other airlines) are adding an extra seat in each row on their 777 aircraft.At a time when the typical travelerís keyster is getting bigger the airlines are making the seats that have to hold them Ė on the longest routes Ė smaller and much less comfortable.And as Iíve stated in previous blogs, while technology improvements generally make our lives easier, in the travel industry they make the experience much worse.

So what am I looking forward to in a couple of days?Iím looking forward to waking up around 3am so I can make a 6am flight.Iím looking forward to hoping the taxi actually shows-up to get me.Iím looking forward to the on-line check-in telling me that it canít process my request because my second leg is on a partner carrier Ė and knowing Iíll have to work that out with all the crack airline personnel that are at EWR at 4:30am.Iím looking forward to the TSA telling me that the Pre-Check lanes arenít open yet Ė or that they are but I still have to take off my belt and take out my PC because Ė despite my agreeing to a thorough background check Ė itís their new rules.††† Iím looking forward to seeing my name on an upgrade list somewhere in the high single digits or low teens Ė because, despite my lifetime status, my current elite status, and the ďconfirmableĒ upgrade certificates I tried to use - the airline sold the better seat to someone for an extra ten bucks instead of honoring those promises.Iím looking forward to hassles from the customs and immigration people, the price gouging on the route from the taxi to my hotel, and the poor internet at that hotel.Then, Iím looking forward to getting up at 3am two days later and doing the whole thing again in reverse Ė this time with an hour long connection time in Denver that Iím 90% sure Iíll miss due to airline incompetence.(A whopping 10% of my flights have left and arrived on time so far this year.Weather has been a factor, but the sheer incompetence in managing irrops and scheduling is what accounts for most of the delays.)Iíve spent hours and hours sitting at airport gates (when there is a seat available) Ė instead of in an airport club Ė as the flight might board at any minute, and stays at that status for extended periods.

A decade or so ago I might find myself sitting at my desk wishing for the excitement and exploration involved in visiting a foreign city.†† Nowadays I find myself in an airport somewhere wishing for the pillow on my bed at home.

I make my living advising organizations and manufacturers about how to optimize the use collaboration technologies (videoconferencing, messaging, team chat, etc.)More and more I hear from end users that the reasons they want to use these technologies arenít because of the tremendous benefits that they bring, but rather, because they help people avoid the hassles that I described above.Quoting from many before me, Ďnever has an industry been as ripe for disruption as the airline industry is today.톆 It will happen, but probably not before I have to suffer through my next few business trips.

Iím going back to my pillow for a couple of hours while I still can...

 

This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

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