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    Entries in travel (25)

    Thursday
    Oct052017

    Notes from the road #23 - Where do I start edition?

    Quick shot from my favorite place to write these late night missives - The Delta Sky Club.

    Here's 5 things I think I think in the run up to next week's HR Technology Conference.

    5. HR Tech is in Las Vegas next week and rest assured the Conference is working with local organizations and causes to make sure that the event and our HR community support the victims, families, and anyone impacted by last Sunday's tragedy. Follow @HRTechConf on Twitter for updates.

    4. I am not a political person. I am squarely in the middle of the road on most issues. But no matter what side of the political spectrum you identify with, it is just about impossible to conclude that we as a country have it right when it comes to availability of ridiculously powerful weaponry and the potential for that weaponry to fall into the hands of folks who will cause massive damage. I don't have a solution, but I am not dumb enough to realize there is not a problem.

    3. If you are young or inexperienced enough, there is no such thing as 'legacy' enterprise software applications. Sometimes I feel like the ratings or evaluations or placements on made up quadrants or scales have more to do with author's remembrances of things past and less to do with the present or the future. Successful companies over time do not stand still. They evolve. They loosen their grip on the past. They figure out how today is different. The famous Italian race car champion once said, after having ripped the rear view mirror from his windshield, 'What's behind you, is not there.'

    2. I took a couple of 'regular' taxi rides on my trip this week. While each was perfectly fine, I couldn't help thinking I was being overcharged and inconvenienced by having to work through a complex and dumb payment process at the end of the ride. You may not like Uber and it's culture or competitiveness, but their user experience beats the alternative just about every single time.

    1. Never, ever, ever convince yourself the red eye flight from the West Coast back east is a good idea. And this is from someone who is about to get on a plane at 11:15PM PT. If you see me in person on Thursday, ask me to give you $100. I will be so punchy I will probably say ok.

    Until the next trip...

    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.