David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
What Have We Learned?
We’ve been living with an unprecedented global pandemic since early 2020. There have been positive and negative developments that all of us have had to manage through – sort of a day-to-day ebb and flow of news full of both successes and tragedies. I’m a big believer that no failure is a total loss – it can always serve as a learning experience. In that context, it is important that we reflect on the experiences of the last eighteen or so months and make some conclusions about what we have learned. In addition, if we identify some instances where some or all of us have not learned a thing, then we need to reflect upon how to fix the problems. For my travel blog this week let’s explore a few of these.
Masks & Vaccinations: If everyone had worn masks and everyone had received vaccinations as soon as those were available then this pandemic would have ended (at least in the United States) long ago. Instead of everyone pulling together to get this done, politics, misinformation and stupidity prevented our rapid emergence from the crisis. What we have learned: The honor system doesn’t work for escaping a crisis. Those not complying with the most basic standards of community behavior need to be ostracized. Access to restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, airlines, events, shopping and everything else possible needs to be restricted to only those completely and correctly masked and vaccinated. If you want to make a life choice to be a COVidiot, then life needs to enforce for you that the consequences of your choices will be that society will ostracize you and force you to stay home. If businesses (stores, airlines, hotels, theaters, casinos, restaurants, etc.) want to stay in business and be patronized by the majority of the public they will need to actively enforce the prevention of those not complying with these most basic requirements. We can no longer let them claim they are “supporting the CDC mandates” if they are not actively ejecting those not 100% in compliance. To fix this, organizations that do not enforce the mandates need to be subject to daily fines – we need to make it hurt the people and companies that don’t comply. In addition, it is time for the FCC and the federal government to actively squelch broadcast and social misinformation. After three strikes (two fair warnings for going over the line) each entity should be fined one hundred times the entity’s fair market value – meaning effectively shutting them down. Let’s see how long Facebook and fake news continue to host lying liars when it means they’ll be put out of business.
Remote Working: During the pandemic we learned that every firm opposed to allowing remote work for knowledge workers was wrong. Global businesses stayed afloat and productive by a dedicated workforce that worked so hard at home they experienced the well-publicized “fatigue.” Then, in the spring, when it looked like the pandemic was waning, these firms started dissing both their technical staff that kept employees connected and the remote employees themselves by discussing how important it was to ‘get back to normal’ and setting demands for employees to come back in. The emergence of the Delta variant has forced these firms to delay their planned return to outdated offices, but the entire situation has been a stark visualization for employees who now see just how much their efforts to keep their firms afloat was unappreciated. What we have learned: It is time for knowledge workers to reevaluate their value and who they work for. If large firms will not adapt to what is now obvious – that people can do individual work remotely and only need to travel to an office for the occasionally needed in-person group work – then it is time for employees to find firms that will truly appreciate their skills. Already Financial Services firms have had to increase starting salary offers to compensate for the difficulty attracting and retaining new talent when so many other firms have evolved to embrace the new cultural norms. Additionally, I hear from many technology managers (who enabled their firms to stay in business) that their efforts are now being completely discounted and ignored by a drive to return to a normal that no longer exists. (It prompted me to write this blog illustrating the situation.) The laws of business are like the laws of nature – Evolve or Die.
Airlines: It is long past time for everyone to realize the US airline companies are run by lying liars. I and others have blogged about this for years, so if you weren’t paying attention then you really should be now. We gave the airline companies (against my advice for what that’s worth) billions of taxpayer money in bailouts expressly to keep their staff employed. It was called “Paycheck Protection” for a reason. Instead of doing that they reduced staff, lined the pockets of investors, and committed the funding to new purchases. Now, that the public has started flying again there are not enough people on staff to handle the load. What we have learned: STOP GIVING AIRLINES BAILOUT MONEY! Let them fail – as often as is necessary – until the industry learns that they will succeed only by providing excellent service (not by being an excellent Wall Street investment.) Have executive salaries directly tied to customer satisfaction. Or, have executives personally responsible for passenger experiences and heavily fined when there is a meltdown (what would be an experience version of a Sarbanes-Oxly act.)
I – just like everybody else – am being forced to reevaluate my late summer early fall travel plans due to the Delta variant. I don’t know which trips I can still safely take. The worst part of it is how it seemingly changes on a day-to-day basis. I may not know if I’m truly making a trip until I actually get on a plane. All I can say about that right now is Bugs Bunny was likely right about Florida. In addition, if you weren’t aware, all of this is an IQ test:
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!