Business travel confuses the hell out of me

Business Travel Is Confusing

This morning, my wife was dealing with someone she works with — and admittedly, my wife is about 2 days from leaving her job, so the phrase “checked out” might apply here in earnest — and basically, this co-worker had to get from Minneapolis to Indianapolis to Chicago to San Diego within a span of about 30 hours for a series of different meetings. None of those, with the possible exception of Indianapolis to Chicago, is actually a drivable distance. So that involves a lot of planes, a lot of fuel load, all that. The environmental repercussions are perhaps not the greatest, but I mean … people were going to be on those planes anyway, so I guess that’s somewhat of a moot point.

I wrote about this topic once before — actually, the day I wrote this post was basically the day I was fired from a part-time gig at Teach for America, as a side note — but have you ever stopped and really thought about how insane most business travel is? Essentially, a person goes to an airport and flies somewhere between 1 hour and 15 hours just so they can meet someone else (or a group of people) face-to-face.

I fully understand that face-to-face interaction — or drinking, or playing sports, or whatever — is the key to building relationships, and almost no company is going to purchase something from someone without a rep coming out and doing the face-to-face thing, regardless of industry or scope. (B2B, B2C, H2H, all that.)

But I do stop and wonder about this stuff all the time. We’ve had Skype as a technology for years. Google has expanded Hangouts with new features for business customers. Meerkat was just the star of the show at SXSW, and they offer the ability to connect people real-time with video.

Point being: there are ways for interactions to take place that don’t require ATL — > Shanghai or O’Hare — > San Diego. It is possible. And if we embraced or understand that more, maybe we could save the planet a little bit in the process, keep people closer to their families during the week, etc. You know: the supposed important things, instead of the revenue-chasing ones.

That said, I’m an utterly misguided individual.

Ted Bauer

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