David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Today is Thursday (or at least it was as I wrote this blog.) That means yesterday was Wednesday. It was your typical mid-week “hump-day.” The weather here in the northeast was great, the workday was your normal 8 to 6, and everything happened just as normal. Except of course the day ended with an in-person, NOT-VIRTUAL cocktail party in Manhattan. After these past fifteen months there was certainly nothing “typical” about getting together for drinks, handshakes and hugs.
For the last fifteen or so years I’ve been organizing quarterly after-work dinners in my industry. Approximately forty-five people pay their own way and meet for drinks and a sit down dinner across a big, square table – specifically to network and discuss the collaboration and multimedia world’s unique flavor of technobabble. Attendees include vendors, integrators, consultants and end-users – all of whom agree to keep any subjects discussed confidential and leave the hard-selling outside. Over the years some attendees have left the industry and new ones took their place. (I’ve also come to learn that there are actual companies that arrange such networking events for a fee. I on the other hand do the organizing as a labor of love.) Then, of course, last year, COVID19…
I held a couple of virtual meetings during the pandemic, and it was nice to see people, but for all its tremendous benefits, video isn’t very good at supporting impromptu conversations and group networking. That’s what made Wednesday special. It was a celebration.
Early on in the planning of this cocktail party I was very sensitive to needed precautions. The party was for vaccinated people only. It took place at a restaurant with an outdoor patio. I was clear to tell the attendees I was going to wear a mask on the way to the restaurant but would take it off amongst the vaccinated attendees…and we would have no mask-shaming if anyone wanted to keep theirs on. I bought huge pump-bottles of hand sanitizer to spread about the restaurant. Then, a few weeks before the party, New York State dropped all COVID restrictions. I am lucky to live in a part of the country that didn’t have politicians that politicized disease prevention. NY, NJ and Connecticut have all achieved about 70% vaccinations or better. Still, I felt good about taking the precautions.
The party was a celebration. We survived – well, at least some of us did. We also took the opportunity to mourn those we lost during the pandemic. You can’t feel only joy when so many around you have suffered (look it up in the Old Testament / Torah if you have time – it’s the exodus story.) The staggering numbers of dead and afflicted after these last fifteen months are difficult to comprehend. The US deaths alone were equal to about two-hundred 9/11s. It made war casualties pale in comparison. Yet despite that, after all we’ve been through, there are still Coviditos that refuse to get vaccinated and politicians who politicize the health of their constituents. That aspect is also very sad and needed to be mourned.
All things considered, it was great to – at least symbolically – put an end to the pandemic. We hugged, we toasted, we cried and we embraced as humans should – in person.
Now, we look to September and October when business conferences in our industry (CEDIA, Enterprise Connect, NAB, InfoComm, etc.) will start up again. We’ll make travel arrangements just like we always did, and we’ll get jammed-up at poorly managed airports like we always did…but we will never forget.
What a year, huh?
The arrangements for my travel to those industry events have changed about five times so far. New flights, new connection times, cancelled fights, etc. This is what we can all expect in the summer of 2021 – travel organizations short-staffed and unprepared for the rush back. American Airlines went so far as to plan more flights than they could feasibly staff and equip. They’ve actually, publically said ‘oops, our bad,’ and just started cancelling people’s plans. As I warned you a few weeks ago, check your itineraries every day for changes, and plan on doubling the time you’ll need for traveling.
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!