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    Entries in travel (22)

    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.

    Thursday
    May262016

    RECRUITING OPPORTUNITY: The Hotel Gym at 6AM on a Wednesday

    Quick take from the road on a busy Wednesday, (note to self, this should have been a 'Notes from the road' post, but I digress). 

    Tried to do the 'stay relatively healthy' bit early this morning by hitting up the Hilton gym at about 6AM or so today and walked into probably the most packed facility I think I have seen in weeks on the road. There were easily 40 or so folks already grinding out a run on the treadmill or faking their way through some pull downs on the lat machine.

    In fact, the place was so crowded, I noticed six or seven folks enter, look around, and then leave since pretty much every available piece of cardio equipment, (and most of the weight machines), were being used. This was at 6:19AM on a Wednesday.

    Now this may not seem all that remarkable, the hotel is pretty large and there are three or four different events and conferences going on here this week, so packing 50 people into a gym may not be as big a deal as I am making it out to be.

    But if you subscribe to the notion, as many folks do, that industry meeting and conferences like the ones going on at this hotel this week are great places for networking and recruiting then it stands to reason that at least some of the 'right' kind of folks you might be looking for can be found in the gym at 6 in the morning.

    The 6AM gym folks are (at least trying) to go the extra mile (pun intended), to keep their s%#% together while on the road - which isn't easy at these kinds of events where the overwhelming tendency is for folks to spend hours and hours sitting in hotel meeting rooms, hitting buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and hitting up the endless open bar each night.

    There are almost certainly recruitable and desirable candidates at every event.

    It could be the most recruitable ones are on the treadmill at 6AM. 

    Are you going to be there to meet them?

    Saturday
    Jan162016

    National restaurant chains, ranked

    For a long weekend where you are perhaps considering dining out at some point, I humbly submit to you this subjective, unscientific, unresearched and 100% accurate breakdown and rankings of the important national restaurant chains.

    Note: these chains fit into the category of 'Casual Dining', that staple of medium-sized towns and access roads just off the Interstate everywhere. But the point is that places like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle (New ad pitch: 'Now with LESS Ecoli!!!!'), are not in the running.

    Here goes:

    10. Outback Steakhouse - Fun fact: I once ate in an Outback Steakhouse each week on Monday night for six months while on a project in Hickory, North Carolina.

    Signature item: Bloomin' Onion

    9. Chili's - Ate there last night. Am totally not kidding. 

    Signature item: Baby Back Ribs

    8. Red Robin - Seem to have recently undertaken some kind of re-branding. 

    Signature item: Royal Red Robin

    7. Olive Garden - This is terrible food, more or less, but the one near where I live is ALWAYS packed, so that has to count for something.

    Signature item: None really. But usually they will keep bringing you food until you explode.

    6. Red Lobster - 83% of the shrimp consumed in the USA are eaten in Red Lobsters. Actually, I have no idea if that is true. But it seems like it could be true, if you know what I mean.

    Signature item: Cheddar Bay biscuits

    5. T.G.I. Friday's - Am kind of surprised these are still around. I guess someone had to survive the epic battle between Friday's, Bennigan's, and Houlihan's in the 90s.

    Signature item: Pretty much anything from the appetizer menu. You are proably a little drunk already and are not that picky about the food.

    4. Carabba's Italian Grill - My son's favorite on this list. Also had a 90-minute wait to get in at 5:45PM on a recent weekend night. That's nuts.

    Signature item: Have some pasta. Or some chicken. Heck, have both.

    3. Applebees - Feelin' good in the neighborhood. Perhaps too good. 

    Signature item:Two or three shady as hell local drunks that are at the end of the bar at 11:35PM on Thursday night.

    2. Buffalo Wild Wings - I used to stop in the BWW on the way home from my old teaching gig. Nothing more sad than going to a bar by yourself at 10PM on a Tuesday. Good wings though.

    Signature item: Wings, you dummy.

    1. The Cheesecake Factory - The choice of big time ballers everywhere, especially in Las Vegas. Go at midnight, sit at the bar. Order draft beer and dessert. You won't regret it.

    Signature item: Original cheesecake. Don't mess with a classic. 

    You can comment if you like, but if you disagree with me, of course you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!