David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 3rd 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:
· For those of us that work in the collaboration technology field, we’re very thankful that the tools and technologies we sell and support have come through for everyone during the crisis. From distance learning to remote working to virtual happy hours to religious services to families sharing holidays – I’m proud of how my industry has stepped up. This story had begun to receive a lot of media coverage, but then a couple of the industry firms – unhappy with how much good press a competitor was getting – decided to change the dialog from “yeah for us” to “look at our unsafe competitor.” The general news media – never one to pass-up a scandal, real or perceived – jumped on the story, with flames fanned by these competitors. Suddenly, instead of talking about how collaboration technology has kept a global society and knowledge workers from collapsing, we’re talking about “Zoombombing” and putting fear in place of the confidence and appreciation. When this pandemic is passed, we in the industry will definitely remember those who stayed positive and provided support whenever they could, and those who tried to gain a competitive edge by spouting unfounded fear and doubt. I hope that all the customers of our services and technology will as well. To help get the positive words out I hosted another webcast this week highlighting some of the great collaboration technology stories to come out of this crisis – things like video allowing USC to host eighteen-thousand simultaneous video calls for nearly sixty-thousand students and faculty, and the ability for Early Intervention therapists (like my wife) to support toddlers with learning delays. It’s an hour and 15 minutes long, but well worth the time. The link to watch it is here.
· Once the crisis has ebbed and businesses have started to reopen, have you thought about how many things will change in our lives – at least temporarily? I mentioned probable changes to the workplace last week, but what about everything else? Will you be willing to go to the movies / the theater / concerts again? What about flying in an airplane? Will airlines use improved screening? Will you be willing to stay in a hotel room that another guest just checked-out of? Will hotels begin to use stronger sanitizing procedures in their rooms? Will rental car firms sanitize more too? Will we be as willing as we were before this crisis to get in a taxi that just dropped someone else off, or a ride-share taxi which is someone’s personal car? And that brings us to the topic of business conferences. Will you again be willing go to one large convention center for an event where you might mingle with tens of thousands of people? Part of this discussion will require additional steps by our travel providers, and part of it will require restoring the confidence of the traveler. Without a functioning vaccine or effective treatment, that confidence will be difficult to achieve. Once you start to really think about it the list grows pretty long. I had tickets to see Elton John in concert yesterday, and tickets to see a couple of Broadway plays this year. Even if these dates get rescheduled will I be willing to go and take the risk? It’s not a slam-dunk either way.
· If you’re not sure how desperate the greedy airlines have become right now, some have suggested they’re considering covering-up and not selling middle-seats on 3x3 configured airplanes. Sure, it’s OK to force customers into tortuously cramped spaces when it’s merely inhuman, but when people may choose not to fly as an alternative to getting sick and dying, the sky-gods then consider appropriate spacing on airplanes. Truthfully, having an empty middle seat next to me was as good as or better than the nearly nonexistent first class upgrades before this crisis hit. The idea of flying in an aircraft where all seats were spaced out wide enough for comfort might just be enough to temporarily save the airline industry. I guarantee you however, that their bean counters will eventually go back to cramming people on board with no consideration for anything else other than revenue just as quickly as they can.
· You didn’t hear this from me, but I’m told the website PokerStars.net will let people who sign-up play poker with their friends using “play money” and some of these friends have been known to join a simultaneous video call to simulate their weekly poker games. (I’m also told these poker buddies keep track of the play money winnings and just Venmo each other to settle-up.) But again, you didn’t hear that from me.
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.