We travel a lot as an industry, I’ve come to learn. And being that I just finished my first-ever promotional products trade-show cycle, I feel a little trepidation at the thought of starting all over come January. I just booked my flights for ASI Orlando and I’m tired already.
I realize making face-to-face connections is invaluable, particularly with you party animals, and maybe that alone is worth the price of admission (flights, booths/accoutrement, shipping, client dinners, etc.). But in terms of ROI, at what point do they stop being valuable and start becoming “same old, same old”? How many times a year do suppliers actually unveil new lines and offerings?
Traveling is rapidly becoming economically impractical, and the reason is threefold:
1) Airlines are charging for checked bags. Yes, I still check my bags. I know that’s like amateur hour for all you seasoned flyers (I’m looking at you, Meghan Defrancesco. As PM’s West Coast sales rep, she’s admirably adept at the carry-on luggage thing). But I’m a product junkie and three ounces is not enough of a fix. I laugh at three ounces. Hysterically.
2) They keep removing flights from the schedule. I already booked my January trips because, to me, nonstop flights are precious things that are not to be squandered due to laziness.
3) Prices are as unpredictable as the weather. An hour after I booked my flight to Las Vegas, the price jumped $100. Which means it’s currently $100 more than a king’s ransom.
For an extra dollop of guilt atop your slice of the Cost Benefit Analysis pie chart—all this travel is not necessarily the most environmentally sound practice, either. In our upcoming Responsibility Issue (look for it accompanying September PM!), we quoted the Inc. magazine article, “How to Make Your Business Greener” in suggesting that companies purchase carbon offsets to counteract the fossil fuels burned by business travel. They also said to teleconference as much as possible.
Everyone wants to think they’re the exception to the rule—but do we really NEED to travel as much as we do? Can our industry continue to thrive without it? (I’m not asking hypothetical questions here, I really want to know …)
We have an eight-show season marked on our editorial calendar alone, and that’s not even counting some of the other big ones, plus all the small retreats, conferences and/or special events that happen all over the country all year long. Will your budget be able to sustain them all? As Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch herald the first signs of a financial apocalypse, my money says “no.”