What “Good Old Days?”
by Rob Schron
For those of us who have been around the meeting planning and incentive travel business awhile, it’s almost become a rite of passage that, from time-to-time, we recall the so-called “good old days.” The fact is, however, that very often “the good old days” weren’t always that good. On the other hand, they weren’t that bad either.
Among other things, when there were no computers and you had to operate with telephones that weren’t attached to you as they appear to be today and fax machines that always seemed to run out of toner or paper just when you needed them, reaching clients and suppliers was far more difficult, although, on the plus side, there was at that time far more personal interaction between buyers and sellers. (I can actually remember when I had several airline reps calling on me in search of group business!) Anyway, while the trade-off is debatable, I’ve always preferred talking and meeting with clients and suppliers, many of whom over the years became life-long friends as a result of our having to work more closely together.
Nowadays, however, when you try to reach the people you need to work with by telephone, you invariably seem to get their “voice mail” and in many cases need to resort to email to get their attention. And quite often, and strange as it may seem, because of email, you can put together an entire program without ever having met the people who were an integral part of planning it with you. In short, it seems the business of planning meetings has almost become “faceless!”
Problem as I see it is everybody is looking for instance gratification, probably due to the fact that virtually everything you always wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask has been solved by the people who gave us “Google” and other search engines. And if you can’t find it via these sources, there are always the web sites of the airlines, hotels, DMCs, motor coach companies, etc., to fill in the blanks.
So, one might ask, who needs people? The answer is, of course, we do.
As “faceless” as the process has become, it does allow for planners and suppliers to provide for quicker responses to RFPs – and in today’s fast-paced environment that increases the opportunities to do business which, as Martha Stewart might say, “is a good thing.” Nevertheless, despite all the advances in technology that, without question, have helped grow our businesses, the “good old days” were “a good thing” too.