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    Entries in travel (24)

    Monday
    Jun122017

    Notes from the road #22 - A long, strange trip it's been edition

    Writing this (brief) dispatch from the Delta Sky Club (again), as I wait for the final leg on the trip back from what has been a long, interesting, challenging, and incredibly rewarding two-week trip Phoenix - Shanghai - Tokyo - (back to) Phoenix - and then finally home.

    In Phoenix, I attended the Virgin Pulse Thrive Summit, which was a really fantastic event. In case you have missed them, you can listen to two HR Happy Hour Shows that Trish McFarlane and I recorded from the event here and here. Virgin Pulse is the leader in employee wellbeing, and unlike some other solution providers in the space, Virgin Pulse is making real strides on showing (with data), the connection between wellbeing and improved business results. Thanks as always to them for having myself and Trish out at the event, and for supporting the HR Happy Hour Show.

     

    Looking forward to a great #thrivesummit with my friends from Virgin Pulse #HRHappyHour

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on May 30, 2017 at 3:09pm PDT

     

    From there, we headed to Shanghai for the 2nd Annual HR Tech China Conference. The 2nd event was even bigger and better than the first. And I am convinced Shanghai is my new favorite city. You can read some of my thoughts about the event here, and later this week Trish and I will share even more from and about the event on an HR Happy Hour Show we will record later this week. All I can say to my Chinese friends, old and new, is "xiexie" - Thank You!

     

    @trish_mcfarlane and I Heading in to present at #HRTechChina

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Jun 5, 2017 at 5:42pm PDT

     

    From there, I headed to Tokyo for some business as well as some time to do some touring and sightseeing. Another amazingly interesting and fun place, great and welcoming people, and lots of opportunity to do more in the future. I liked it so much I may have to go back again soon!

     

    #tokyo

    A post shared by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Jun 9, 2017 at 8:06pm PDT

     

    It has been the longest business trip I have been on in ages, and while I sit here in the MSP Sky Club anxious to get home, I also anticipate the next trip back to Asia - it truly has been, professionally and personally, the most incredibly rewarding trip I have taken in years.

    And to everyone who is waiting to hear back from me about something or other - I promise to dig in to the backlog of emails and texts and get back to you soon.

    That is if I actually get home tonight. If I get stuck here in MSP, then all bets are off.

    NOTE: In the time it has taken me to post this, I am delayed another hour...

    Tuesday
    Apr252017

    Notes From the Road #21 - Friendly Skies Edition

    I was waiting for an early morning flight today (on Delta, the best airline in the world), and heard a gate announcement from across the terminal for a United flight that was also soon to depart. The United gate agent was seeking volunteers to give up their seats on the 6AM flight to Chicago and take a later flight. With everything that has been in the news about the recent problems United has had with overbooking and removing passengers from flights, I couldn't help but wince a little as I heard the announcement. And I wasn't even on the flight. Nor that airline. Just the stench of what has been going on at United wafted across to my Delta gate. Aside - my Delta flight also was seeking folks to volunteer their seats as well. Must have been a big day to get out of Rochester today.

    But the announcements this morning, and the United follies of late made me think I hadn't done a 'Notes' post in a while, and since I KNOW you must have been waiting, on edge, for me to share my thoughts on the United stuff and air travel in general, here are my frequent flyer informed Top 10 observations/comments on the current state of the friendly skies...

    1. On the United stuff - pretty much everyone was at least partially in the wrong there. United operations should have a better plan to get its employees where they need to be. United gate staff and on-site managers should have had more leeway to increase the compensation on offer in order to coax the desired number of passengers from the flight. Airport/aviation security should have found some other way to accomplish the de-planing of the passenger that did not involve concussions and a busted up face. And finally, despite the unfairness of it all, the passenger in question, once three airport security staff boarded the plane and requested he de-plane, had to comply. He should have been mad. He probably should have dropped a F-bomb or two. But he should have left the plane and taken up his case back at the gate. On board an aircraft trapped with 100 other folks in close quarters who have nothing to do with this incident is no place to decide to hold your own sit-in protest. 

    2. I think an underrated element of the air travel experience is the newness of the aircraft itself. The plane I am on now is really, really new seeming. It almost has that new plane smell still. Creates such a positive feeling right from boarding when the plane is new(ish), and not one of those dreary, run-down, relics from 1987. 

    3. I know this is easy to forget, but another thing that would make the overall experience better is for everyone to realize that you are not the only person on this flight, and unless you are the pilot, you are also not the most important person on this flight. You know what? We all have connections to make! We all sat through the turbulence over Colorado. We all had to endure the four hours to LAX with the terrible wifi. Treat everyone nicely, we are all in this misery together.

    4. But given that we are all miserable, we can't take that out on the individual employees of the airline - gate agents, flight attendants, customer service folks - any of them. Ninety-five percent of the airline staff are giving their best effort to get us where we want to go - safely, on-time, and as comfortably as conditions, (which none of them created) allow. Sure, can an airline worker have a bad day? Be rude? Of course. But so can the guy at the gas station, the clerk at the DMV, and the passenger in Seat 17C who keeps hitting the call button to ask for another ginger ale. 

    5. Air travel is a volume business. Delta, American, Southwest, and United, (the Big 4), might carry 125 million passengers each year. If they are lucky, they will make $6 of profit on each passenger (it is often less). So even if you think your $1700 fare to SFO was really expensive, the airline barely makes enough to cover the costs of getting you there. So like your local grocery store, volume and thin margins is how airlines make money. I think some of the disconnect in the air travel experience is we see our fares as big-ticket purchases, but the airline sees us all as contributors of $6 to the bottom line.

    6. It is never a good idea to argue with the TSA. See point #4 - the person manning the scanner or waving the magic wand or doing the patdowns did not make the rules. The process is often ridiculous, but the time and place to make your stand is not at 5:30AM with 72 people in line behind you who just want to make their flights. Write your Congressperson if you don't like what goes on at airport security.

    7. No matter what scheme an airline uses to manage the boarding process, (line up with numbers, line up in groups, high status first/lower status next, etc.), boarding will be probably the worst aspect of the flying experience. This is mostly our, (the collective we) fault. We lug too many things on the plane, we can't count rows, we have to position phones, tablets, e-readers, magazines, boxes of Good n' Plenty just so at our seats before we sit down. Just please, for the love of all that is holy, stash your bag under the seat, don't try to stuff the roller bag where it clearly will not fit, and just sit down. There is nothing more likely to make you weep for humanity than to watch 120 of us attempt to board a plane.

    8. You do not, under any circumstances, need to make a phone call telling someone 'We just landed' the SECOND after the wheels touch down. I promise you that call can wait 7 minutes until we are at the gate and getting off the plane. Trust me.

    9. Your bags will almost certainly not get 'lost' or even delayed. In 2015 the USA rate of lost luggage was about 3 per 1,000 passengers, a 10% reduction from 2014. Delta (and American I think) now allows you to track the movement of your checked bags via it's smartphone app. I get a little notification when my bag gets placed on the plane, when it is switched to my connecting flight, and when it is unloaded at the claim area. Will you be one of the 3 out of 1,000 who has an issue with your bag? There's a 99.7% chance you will not. So get over that one time in Indianapolis nine years ago when your bag went missing and it had to be delivered to the Fairfield Inn a couple of hours later. You were fine.

    10. There are going to be times where you miss your flight, when weather or mechanical issues cancel the flight, when you are stuck in a middle seat between two guys who are the size of a WWE tag team, or when there's a crying baby, no wifi, or the plane has run out of red wine. That is just how it is. But remember none of those things are happening to you, they are happening to all of us too.

    And it could be worse. Remember that 27 hour drive to DisneyWorld when you were a kid? And Dad threatened to turn the car around about 19 times? And your brother got car sick on your Keds?

    Think about that compared to that crowded, stuffy, 2 hour 32 minute flight where you watched Moana and had some honey roasted peanuts and a Sprite.

    That's it, I am out. Safe travels out there.

    Wednesday
    Feb082017

    Over, Under, and Properly Rated #4 - Business Travel Edition

    NOTE: My current favorite sports talk show is the Russillo and Kanell Show that airs nationally on ESPN radio. On the show, the hosts occasionally do a 'rated' segment where they categorize sports teams, players, and other aspects of sports and pop culture into one of three buckets. 'Overrated' for things they think are generally praised or valued more than they should be. 'Underrated' for the opposite - things that do not get enough attention or accolades. And finally 'Properly' rated, for the things that receive about the correct level of praise or derision.

    It is a fun segment, complete with sound effects, and in the spirit of running out of good ideas this week, I am going to steal borrow for this site. So here goes, the fourth installment, of 'Over, Under, and Properly Rated' (SFB edition). I am going with a business travel theme this time, since I have been back on the road some after a January lull and also because I am pretty sure the world does not need another blog about employee engagement or robots coming for our jobs right about now.

    So here goes...

    Overrated

    1. The fun places you will see! - Writing this from a hotel room in rainy, damp, dreary Cleveland. That is not a knock on Cleveland, you could substitute Newark, Pittsburgh, or Dallas and it would be pretty much the same. At least half, if you are lucky, of the places you will travel for business are places you'd never go to otherwise. 

    2. Turn down service - Let me see, I had to jump to attention with a startling knock on the door so that someone could fold back the blanket a foot and a half and drop two milk chocolate squares on the night stand? No thanks. 

    3. The hotel indoor pool - Unless you are traveling with kids under 10, you will never, ever dip a toe in the indoor pool. Can that room smell any weirder?

    4. 'Comfort' Class - You just paid $59 more each way for 1.2 inches additional leg room. And one 'free' Bud Light.

    5. Going out for drinks/dinner with the local staff - Usually fun for about an hour. Then the locals are all thinking 'It's Wednesday night, I have things to do at home, when can I get out of here?', and you start thinking, 'I had to get up at 3:45AM to catch my flight here, I am about to crash hard. When can I get out of here?'

    Underrated

    1. Hotel in-room coffee makers - You might take these for granted. You might even think the quality of the coffee is terrible, (it is). But tell me how much you enjoy that 37th floor city view room in Vegas until you realize that there is no coffee maker in the room and you're facing a 18 minute trek and a 23 minute long wait at the Starbucks in the lobby.

    2. The chance that being around all those people in tight spaces like planes will make you very sick - The sickest I have ever been in my life was about seven or so years ago when I picked up the Swine Flu (remember that), after a quick two-day, one-night trip into NYC for business. I was knocked flat for 10 days, every muscle I had (not many) ached, and I don't think I got off of my sofa for more than 8 minutes a day. The illnesses you can pick up on a commuter flight to JFK are legion.

    3. The Sky, Admiral's, Captain's or whatever Club you use at the airport - This is the best travel investment that any regular business traveler can make, (yes, I would rate it higher than TSA Pre-check). Just one bad weather night and a 7-hour layover in JFK or LGA will make the $500 or so annual fee worth it right there. And it seems to me that the Airport Clubs are all getting nicer, while almost every other aspect of air travel is getting worse.

    4. Business/First class to Asia, (or anywhere else really far) - Another investment I would recommend, (even better if you can get someone else to fund this), is the splurge upgrade to Business/First Class for any flight you may have to take of 12 hours or more. Why? Because if you only take this kind of a flight once in your life, you will always remember it as the best flight you ever had. The last Business Class pod I had on a flight to China was bigger than my first apartment. And the food was much better too.

    5. Frequent Flyer Status - Things get a little better with 'Gold' status. Things get better still with 'Platinum' status. But things get much, much better with 'Diamond' status. Which it is why it is so hard to get. And worth every stopover in Detroit instead of flying directly to Chicago that you have to endure. If you are just starting to travel for business, pick one airline and stick with it. Cling to it like grim death if you must. You want status.

    Properly Rated

    1. Room service - Pros: It's food that someone brings to your room after you make one phone call. And you can eat in your bathrobe and no one cares. Cons: Overpriced, usually mediocre food.

    2. Rental cars - Pros: It is someone elses car! Let's do a neutral drop as we pull out of the Courtyard by Marriott! Cons: How do I turn on the headlights? Arghhh! That was the windshield wipers!

    3. 'Local' TV/news - Kind of fun to watch a different city's local news shows to get a little bit of the flavor of the place. But tempered by the fact that local car dealers and personal injury attorney advertising is just as annoying on the road as it is at home.

    4. The Hotel Gym - Often, you will be so bored and stir crazy in your room that you will work out more when you are on the road which is good. But, it is a hotel gym. You see some strange stuff in there.

    5. Eating at Chili's, Applebee's, or any other place you can eat at that is within five minutes of where you live - Sure, you feel like a jerk for eating at a nondescript chain place. But, it probably saves you at least 27 minutes of scrolling through Yelp trying to figure out if 3.5 stars means the same thing in San Antonio as it does in Des Moines.

    What do you think? Do I have it right? 

    Is this post itself over, under, or properly rated?

    Have a great day.

    Wednesday
    Aug102016

    Upgrades, ranked

    It's been a while since I ran a solid 'ranked' post on the blog, and since it's the middle of a 'hard to get anything done since everyone I need to get in contact with seems to be out on vacation' week, let's take a break from the normal highbrow content and break off the definitive, unscientific, unresearched, subjective, incomplete, and 100% accurate rundown of Upgrades, ranked.

    And as always, you can disagree with anything on this list, but of course you would be wrong.

    Here goes:

    10. Windows 10 up from Windows 7 - Windows 10 may or may not be better. It doesn't matter. Windows 10 is the PRESENT. Don't be that guy stuck in the past, clinging to a technology just because it's familiar. You label yourself a Luddite. Do you still have a Blackberry? (Don't answer that one Canadian readers).

    9. 'Mid-size' up from 'Compact' - Let's face it, all the rental car companies need a serious lesson in what actually constitutes 'mid-size'

    8. The 'Junior suite' instead of the standard room - Who doesn't love an uncomfortable, non-reclining arm chair?

    7. 'Jelly Bean' up from 'Ice Cream Sandwich' - you can have your Apple nonsense. Who want to use an operating system called '6.2' - give me a fun name anytime.

    6. 'Beach view' up from 'Resort view' - You will want to tell yourself that you won't be looking out of the window all that much. You will be wrong.

    5. Gran Patron Platinum up from Jose Cuervo Especial - If you are going for flavor vs. volume. If you are going for volume, then none of this matters.

    4. Oracle E-Business Suite Version 11i up from 10.7 (you have to be a major ERP geek to appreciate this, but trust me, it was BIG)

    3. Courtside up from Section 307 - You'll remember courtside forever. Section 307 is just another game.

    2. Bose QC 25 headphones (over the ear) up from your crappy earbuds - I bought these for myself as a birthday present a few years ago, and about 200 flights later have not regretted it for a second.

    1. First class on the red eye flight from Vegas to JFK

    Disagree with anything on the list? Think I left something out? Too bad, get your own blog.

    Have a great Wednesday! I mean that.

    Monday
    Jun062016

    Notes from the road #20 - Spring event roundup edition

    A big part of how I spend my Spring each year is making the rounds of as many HR technology solution provider events (customer conferences and.or analyst meetings), as I can, all while planning for and developing the program for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo to be held October 4 - 7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

    These customer events are a great way for me to stay in touch with the industry - the technology trends, the challenges that customers are talking about and seeking solutions for, and the big workplace issues that are top of mind. Additionally, these events help me to take the pulse and temperature of the market - information I need as I work on HR Tech.  

    Since the Spring event season is just about over, (I think I have one more to attend, the always interesting HireVue event in a couple of weeks), I wanted to share at least a small part of what I saw, heard, and learned at a few of these events from early 2016. Hopefully, there is something in what I saw that might help you as you think about your HR technology plans for the remainder of the year.

    Greenhouse - This was the most recent event I have attended, so it is very fresh in my mind. Greenhouse is a newer provider of recruitment technology solutions primarily serving the SMB market, (don’t call it an ATS), that has grown rapidly in the last few years, primarily in the Bay Area technology ecosystem. Greenhouse takes a fresh approach to HR tech, at least a different one I think, in that they really think about solving the challenge of recruiting for organizations who wish to become “great” at recruiting first, rather than simply chasing down specific features and functions. It is an approach that is hard to describe in a few words, but if you want to learn more about Greenhouse and what they are about, check an interview I was able to do with CEO Dan Chait on the HR Happy Hour podcast here.

    Globoforce - The recent Globoforce customer conference, called WorkHuman, stands out from the group in that it is a very different kind of user event in that it does not (primarily) focus on the the actual products that Globoforce develops. Rather, WorkHuman focuses on making work and workplaces “better’, and showcases content and activities designed to help HR leaders better engage their workforces and that ultimately will elevate the nature of work. The solution set that Globoforce provides is positioned more as a complementary collection of tools that HR and organizational leaders can leverage in their efforts to simply make work “better” and more human. For more on this event, and how working more “human” translates to organizations, see this excellent piece from Trish McFarlane on the HR Ringleader blog.

    Oracle - Oracle’s HCM World event has rapidly grown to become one of the largest HR technology user events of its type. The most recent HCM World held in early April, was a reflection of the growth of Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions, and the success they are having in the market. There was tons to see and hear at the event, but if I could pick out just one thing that stood out for me was the continued development and refreshing approach Oracle is taking with its new Learning technology in the cloud. The new learning tools are meant to be mobile-first, collaborative, personalized, and video heavy - a key to me as the trends in video consumption are only on the increase across all kinds of platforms. It is  great example of how an enterprise technology provider is adapting to trends in the consumer space to develop and deliver technologies with which users will want to engage. For more on what Oracle is working in HCM, listen to this recent HR Happy Hour podcast featuring Oracle’s Bertrand Dussert.

    Ultimate - Just like the other events listed above, Ultimate Software’s annual user conference is a reflection of the company itself - its culture, values, and philosophy. Ultimate's tagline has been “People First” for some time, but unlike most empty corporate slogans, Ultimate really does believe in putting its employees, customers, and community “first”. They are committed to their own employees and their family’s welfare and well-being, as evidenced by the generous and progressive approaches they take to engagement and development. But from a product capability standpoint, probably the most interesting area in which Ultimate is innovating is in the field of predictive analytics. These are modern approaches to give insight to leaders to be able to anticipate voluntary (and often undesirable) turnover, and to predict the likelihood of a candidate succeeding in a new role. But Ultimate is moving beyond just “predicting” events, it is trying to provide more meaningful and actionable recommendations and interventions to help leaders and managers better deal with these events. You can learn more about this approach on this by checking out another recent HR Happy Hour podcast with Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate.

    That’s a quick look at four of the events I was able to attend in the last few months. And while each one was different of course, when I think back upon them, and the others that I was not able to list here, I am reminded that the challenges and opportunities facing HR leaders and their organizations remain pretty common and consistent. Finding the best talent, engaging the workforce, developing and retaining the best people, while all the time ensuring compliance and accuracy in all HR administrative processes. Thankfully, modern and innovative technologies like the ones being developed by the five providers above continue to rise to these challenges, and are able to help HR leaders reach their goals. And of course, you can see these providers, and hundreds more, at the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.