International business travel, the end of an era?

11 08 2006

Once again the airline industry is about to have their security guidelines changed in order to accomodate new perceived threats by terrorists. The arrest of 24+ people in London involved in plotting terror attacks aboard airplanes is being heralded in the press and blog world as the end of business travel, the end of an era.

It’s true that business travellers will be the most affected group if new security regulations are put in place to limit carry-on luggage, liquids and electronic equipment. International business travellers will surely suffer most, 8 to 14 hour flights beg for a carry on bag crammed with items that may now be eliminated by new regulations.

The thought of making the trip from LA to Hong Kong, without my water bottle, my contact lens solution, saline spray, Ipod and reading material would make me seek an alternative. Perhaps I would pass the opportunity to meet face to face, and try to do the business via telephone, VOIP, or fax, accepting that fact that the outcome wouldn’t be the same. How many others would do the same?

I believe face to face meetings are an essential part of doing business, and more so for international relationships. But there comes a time when the trip itself is so painful and uncomfortable that we do seek alternatives that are easier and more pleasant, or we charge more in order to suffer the inconvenience.

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. How will global business be affected? How many of us will seek an supplier or customer that is closer to home? How will business change if international travel is severely affected? Will business travellers embrace communication technology in order to make things happen as they used to? Will international business travellers request more compensation, raising the cost of doing business?

2. What will the airlines do to adapt and make it safe and comfortable for their business travel customers? Will they provide, contact lens solution, creams, and bottled water for their customers as part of the standard service? How can they turn this gigantic lemon into lemonade?

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Sales and marketing terrorism

10 08 2006

The recent media coverage of political terrorism throughout the world has me reflecting on terrorism and extreme sales and marketing tactics in the business world.

Every industry has individuals or organizations that use drastic, pointless, unethical or dangerous economic tactics in order to increase income or market share in the short term. This use of drastic and irresponsible actions can be called sales and marketing terrorism.

The goal of sales and marketing terrorism is to create immediate change, instill panic and chaos, or further the goals of one group who cannot or are not willing to work with the current system of rules, regulations and norms.

Many times the reaction to these isolated incidents will severely impact the industry, market or specific businesses. Reactions can result in increased government legislation, more government or industry intervention, increased costs of doing business, loss of revenue and reduced customer confidence in the organization or industry.

Some examples of “sales and marketing terrorism”:

A competitor who initiates a campaign of extreme discounts or low prices (dumping) in order to eliminate a competitor or increase market share.

A marketing campaign that uses lies and innuendo to reduce the reputation of a competitor or industry segment.

Products of extremely poor quality (below expected consumer beliefs or expectations) substituted for products known for their quality.

Don’t confuse sales and marketing terrorism with innovative ideas and paradigm shifts in how to do business. The difference is that a sales and marketing terrorist has no plan other than disruption.

Sales and marketing terrorism is a short term strategy or single event that has no regard for long term collateral consequences. They believe their actions will be justified because of short term increases in profit or market share. Rarely do they succeed, but often create chaos and disorder in the marketplace that have an impact on the industry and consumers that can last for a long time.