David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Fasten Your Seatbelts
It’s your typical good news, bad news situation. The good news is that here in the US we’re finally seeing the sunsetting of the horrific global pandemic. The bad news is that we’re sliding quickly into multiple crises that we are not at all prepared for. This week’s Business Travel blog from me is the notice that you’re on a proverbial roller coaster and you’d better be prepared for the twists and turns. After reading this, you can’t say that you haven’t been warned.
Stuff Will Be Hard To Find – The pandemic did quite the number on the global supply chain. You’ve heard that the computer chips that are embedded in all of today’s devices (from cars to smart-phones to everything else) are scarce, and will be for at least a year or two as the world recovers. Be warned, that’s not the only scarce item. The blip in the global supply chain effects a growing list of items: lumber, coffee, diapers and chicken and beef to name just a few. These will have direct impacts on your life (such as the cost of building or remodeling going up) and indirect impacts (such as the semiconductor shortage slowing auto manufacturing which leads to difficulties buying new cars which leads to a rental-car shortage.) When you can find what you need expect the prices to be much higher and expect the wait times for delivery of goods to be much longer.
Services Based Industries Will Raise Prices And Lower Performance – Another shortage we’re experiencing is a labor shortage. This is across the board with hospitality workers, truck drivers, and physical workers of all kinds. (I hate the term Knowledge Workers to describe people who can work remotely, and hate even more the fact that there isn’t a great term for their opposite other than Skilled or Physical Labor. In-person workers have plenty of knowledge, and remote workers have lots of skills – but that’s just where our language is today.) Don’t buy into the hype that this shortage is due to a temporary bump in unemployment compensation. A keen observer in the hospitality industry created a great list of actual reasons that I’ll excerpt and augment here:
1) Workers are still
upset that some companies never stayed in touch while they were furloughed.
2) It's cheaper to stay home and watch your kids instead of paying for child care.
3) Many workers especially if they had a lot of customer contact in the past are concerned that they may get COVID if they return to the same position.
4) Many workers want to work from home now that the BS of that model being bad has been debunked.
5) The online application process for many companies is archaic. Job seekers may not apply for positions if the application process takes 10 minutes or longer.
6) One time sign-on bonuses are not the answer, especially if the worker is being taxed on the bonus.
7) Many hourly associates want a seat at the table so they can be heard. They want to have a direct connection to the GM, VP, President or CEO.
8) Job seekers are looking for better healthcare benefits. The cost of healthcare – long out of control with record insurance and pharmaceutical company profits destroying care – will now have a direct effect on the ability to hire employees.
9) Job seekers want to be fairly compensated for what they'll be doing. Companies that have continually low balled people will have a hard time attracting new talent. Companies that pay better may charge more for their products and services.
10) Many job seekers will not apply for positions that have unrealistic job descriptions and qualifications. Asking someone to have a college degree for a middle/upper management position is not realistic if an applicant has 15-20 years experience in the same industry.
11) Some workers have retired or they have found new positions that pay more and offer flexible scheduling.
12) Some applicants will remove themselves from consideration for a position or ghost the hiring manager if they feel the hiring process is long and drawn out. …If an applicant has applied with one company that he/she is applying at multiple companies. If you wait it may be too late.
13) Many applicants will not complete the online application process if they are required to take an online personality or skills test.
So basically, during the pandemic, the job market has basically flipped from being one with the employers at an advantage to one with the employees at an advantage. People will no longer be content to work for wages that don’t cover their cost of living when they see companies and executives making record profits. Expect a tremendous amount of career and job changing to take place in the next twelve to eighteen months.
The Airlines Have No Clue How To Handle The Crisis – Right around the US Memorial Day weekend the airline industry – seemingly overnight – went back to what feels like 110% of leisure travel. People again crowded airports, airplanes, roadways to airports, etc. No one was ready. Not the TSA, not the airlines, not the rideshare companies and taxis….no one. While international and business travel is still depressed, domestic travel is through the roof. Airlines are cancelling and rescheduling flights on a constant basis, airport facilities and services are struggling to keep-up, and any attempt to travel domestically will result in a huge mess – think of some of your worst holiday traveling experiences and realize they (or close to them) are back, and now every-day. Fixing this issue with more people to help-out is hampered by the employee shortages and changes mentioned above. It’s going to be part of our travel lives for a while.
What does this mean for us travelers? – The savvy traveler will now need to change their approach to travel. The old playbook needs to be thrown-out. In a prior blog I mentioned that my usual process of reserving mid-level chain hotel properties to save money on the fees that higher-end properties charge no longer works, as the mid-level properties are not ready to provide services yet. That’s only one example. We now need to increase the time set-aside for travel. Did you used to get to the airport one hour before your flight? If so, now arrive two hours ahead. Congested roadways, TSA lines, agent shortages, etc. will take the extra time. Did you used to land an hour before your meeting / event? Triple that one. The wait for rideshares is much longer, taxis are scarce, baggage retrieval is a joke, etc. The hiccups extend to rental cars, hotel check-ins, finding restaurants and services at your destination, and on and on. Plan on arriving to a city the day before any event you need to attend – believe me, you’ll need the pad. Basically we have to accept that the hiccups will be the norm for the foreseeable future.
So, as I mentioned above, fasten your seatbelts. The ride gets bumpy from here.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.
As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree. Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me. Thanks!