David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 2nd Week Of April
In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.
So, in no particular order:
· One of the trends in large companies that I experienced over the last dozen or so years was “densification.” That was the trend of organizations with large offices to reduce their real estate footprint by removing private and semi-private offices, and creating ‘open offices’ that keep people closer together. In some cases (like in financial services firms) there were large, open ‘benches’ of employees packed-in like sardines. Guess what? That’s not going to fly anymore. Knowledge workers aren’t going to travel to an office and be forced to sit that close to co-workers when they know they can get most of their work done from a home office that is more convenient, often more functional and far less susceptible to catching germs. This is going to have a significant impact on office build-outs whenever this pandemic ends. Also in jeopardy is the trend towards “hoteling.” I just can’t see employees agreeing to show up in an office and work at a randomly assigned desk, using the chair, keyboard, mouse and/or telephone that someone else used just a few hours ago. None of this is as important as the critical health and economic implications of the pandemic, but it is important to acknowledge and be prepared for the change.
· So now the airline moguls (sky-gods as they’ve been called) have sent us all messages that say ‘never mind all those elite qualification thingies we talked about, we’ll extend your last level and reduce the requirements to achieve levels.’ Yeah sure, now that no one is flying and they can’t simply reduce service to maintain the cash-cow of packed airplanes they’ve decided to fake being nice. I don’t have words to adequately describe the disdain I have for the management of the big US airlines. They are the epitome of the parable of the ant and the grasshopper. They allow bean-counters to carve legroom, seat-width and all comfort out of the flying experience, reduce capacity and service wherever they can, gut the benefits of their loyalty programs, serve the shareholders (and not their customers) with stock buy-backs, and just stuff the cash bonuses in their pockets. But, when ‘winter’ comes, and no one is flying, all of a sudden they want to be our friends. (Remember that I predicted this specific situation which honestly everyone other than these greedy ‘sky-gods’ saw coming someday.) My next get rich quick scheme for when the pandemic ends is to sell T-shirts that say “Screw You [insert airline name here]” to those of us that have been bean-counted into these last ten or so miserable years of business travel. Or better yet, let’s just all send the airlines stroopwafels instead of money – it’s what they thought we wanted instead of good service.
· Yes, I do videoconferencing and collaboration for a living. Yes, I’ve been very busy helping those new to the space with support and advice. (And yes, if you need help with this stuff please feel free to send me a note and I’ll be happy to assist with no-charge advice.) But, oh man, how will videoconferencing compete with attention spans in the future when the new high-bar for video content is first Mary Poppins then the cast of Hamilton? My PowerPoints are cringing in fear. In all seriousness, I just recorded a new, technology agnostic webcast for AVNation-TV that walks people through the best process for selecting a video platform. Check it out here.
· I’m a bit angry at my friend Joe Brancatelli for giving away my secret of using an airline amenity kit eye-mask as a make-shift face mask during the pandemic:
In reality however, making your own emergency cloth mask is pretty easy, and companies are starting to make these readily available, so I don’t know how much longer we’ll need to re-purpose the eye-masks. That’s kind of sad however, because I’m sure it was the first actual value these masks have ever provided to us.
· Did you know you can make a cake in a mug? Just open the mix packet, add milk or water, microwave for 70 seconds and voila. Forget the pandemic, this fact will mean life will never be the same.
As always please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a long while.
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.