Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Traveling on Business

Many jobs require frequent travel, and the publishing business is no exception. We’re often flying out of town for trade shows, press conferences, and other industry-related events. After going to CEDIA EXPO, and a few other conferences, over the last couple of months, I've observed a few irksome things about travel.

When traveling by plane, you’re sure to become annoyed at one thing or another: long lines at customs; being forced to take off your shoes; random baggage checks; not being able to take a bottle of water in your carry-on, and so on. But our experience went beyond these standard (but unfortunately necessary) annoyances.

Here’s the story: on the return flight from CEDIA, we noticed that the itinerary named two different airlines ("XX flight" in big letters "by YY"). As Murphy’s Law would have it, our driver insisted that he drop us off at airline XX, only to find out that we really should have been taken to airline YY’s check-in station. Needless to say, it wasn’t uncommon to hear a few expletives as we lugged our baggage across the airport. Why were two, active airlines named on the itinerary? And the incorrect one in larger, more prominent lettering, at that? Politics or not, there’s no need to confuse the traveler.

Once ready to check-in, my colleague was told he had to pay an additional fee because his suitcase was overweight. That was no big deal. But then the attendant added non-chalantly that if he split his things into two suitcases, he could avoid the extra cost. Huh? Apparently two bags that take up more room on a plane are better than one that’s slightly overweight. Needless to say, the expletives kept coming.

Of course the other part of business travel is the hotel stay which, for the most part in my experiences, has been wonderful. Many people these days stay in touch while traveling solely via handheld devices like a Blackberry, but someone like me who works predominantly online needs to stay connected on a full-blown notebook PC back in the room. I still can't believe that WiFi access isn't yet a standard free feature in hotels. I’ve stayed in some pretty fancy hotels, and could not believe that even they still make you pay $10 per day to log onto the ‘net. Haven’t we reached a point where Internet access is just as ubiquitous as a TV or clock radio?

I digress…

4 comments:

Goo Guy said...

How right you are Christine, although the States has it all over Europe and Asia for broadband access in hotel rooms. Germany is especially bad, with 18 Euro a day charges and spotty service at best. Who'd a thunk it, eh?

Air travel in the US is awful and getting worse. It's gotten to the point now where if I can make the drive in 14 hrs. or less, I hop in the car. I can stay in touch
via mobile and avoid all of the airport/airline Kakfa-esque nonsense.

Thanks for the blog; I hope a few more folks start to jump in with some comments!

Regis said...

I'm reading this while in NY for a trade show. I also tend to prefer driving to the Big Apple from Montreal over the always painful ordeal of flying down (customs, flight delays, airport congestion, etc...).

This time, I chose to take the train, well aware that it would take a bit longer (9 hours). On the other hand, I thought it would allow catch up on some reports watch a couple of movie and arrive right downtown Manhattan fully relaxed.

Instead, we got delayed an hour at US Customs causing us to lose our spot on the rail grid. That meant the train had to leave priority to all other rail traffic on the line. We arrived 3 hours behind, wondering why I didn't just drive down in the first place.

In the end, there is no relaxing easy way to travel!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the business Trade show, a rare opportunity to walk all day lugging a roller bag full of crap you will probably never read, eat your face off at restaurants you'd normally not be able to afford followed by rounds of drinks until 2am chinwagging about all the stuff you saw during the day. Man I LOVE it! It's the only time I'm exhausted in a good way. Geting up at 3 am to feed a baby - that's exhausted in a bad way.

Traveling on business? Also the only time you pretty much srew up every established routine you adhere to and become Mr. I can stay up all night no problem guy. Hey ,who's up for one more round of Red Bull and Vodka?

Why do I never learn that Red Bull is evil and should come with a warning label that it should not be consumed by anyone over 20? Hey what time is it, must be getting close to 1 am. Um actually buddy it's 3:30. Boy, nothing better than that last midnidnight Red Bull to pop your heart rate into scary RPM's while you stare at the ceiling in your over-priced hotel room, computer blinking as it churns along eating up $20 wi-fi service, your tongue stuck to the top of your mouth as you resist grabing a $5 bottle of recycled New Jersey water, desperatly trying to get some shut eye knowing that you have a 7:30 breakfast meeting, which the clock in your room, that's always 60 watts too bright, is telling you is in two hours. But that doesn't mater cause my daughters will be geting ready for school in 20 minutes and time zones is an abstract concept that has yet to be addressed on Blues Clue's so they'll be calling any time now with a Hi daddy I love you. How sweet - go eat your Cheerios... Come to think of it they don't know how to dial and my wife sure as hell knows that 7 am Toronto time is 4 am my time. Punishment for keeping her at home I guess.

Yep, that's business travel. Thank god for the middle seat on the way home so I can get some shut-eye.

regis said...

There's a very funny Opus comic strip in today's paper about the joys of air travel which many of us can relate with.

check it out at:
http://www.gocomics.com/opus/2007/09/16/