I was reminded this past weekend of the nuances of Perception v Reality, and I started to think about the implications of those two words in our society as well as in our industry. As a result of those thoughts, I wanted to write to you this week to share some observations I had, in hopes you pause and think of reality in your world - and the simple fact that what we hear and see may not reflect reality.
The trigger this weekend was a stop I made to local food eatery. For those of you that know me, I love food. I eat just about everything and anything - and my appreciation can come from a Michelin starred restaurant in Scotland or a Lobster shack on the coast of Maine. Near our new home is an antique dealer in a warehouse type structure, surrounded outside by wooden tables that are filled by locals, selling all their junk, almost like a flea market. Amongst these tables is a structure that could be described as a bit larger than your typical shed, and this houses what I thought was a “Snack Shack”. It was my distorted perception. But this was no snack shack, but rather two kids starting a business based on some awesome homemade principles and general goodness. From the grinding of their own meat for hamburgers to homemade buns, it blew away my perception. It was an awesome place for breakfast or lunch - and I am going their when i am done writing this!
But let me share another thought - for a moment, imagine our perceptions and reality when we watch television news. I venture to guess there are readers of this email that might be fans of Fox News and others that may be fans of MSNBC News - but there are very few that are fans of both. The reality of these new news outlets is that they skew reality to suit their audience - sometimes crossing the lines between fact and fiction. I have even found when I have suggested alternative views to such viewers of either station that I am usually attacked as being from the “other side” and thus dismissed as irrelevant. But the fact of the matter is television news on these stations is not about reporting news, but it is telling a story to fit their customer requirements (and create a perception).
But what about our industry? This is where we all must be vigilant. A friend of mine recently was challenged by his CFO to show there was value in his program by their use of a traditional TMC versus an online TMC. The CFO's perception was created in a prior job where they had an online TMC, and therefore they were perceived by him to be better. The exercise took many years off this friend, but in the end the facts destroyed the perception.
Another friend in our industry was chastised for not performing in a particular market by a particular airline (sound familiar?). It was assumed that this under performance was the result of the corporation not doing their duty - when in fact it was caused by competitive forces in the market where another carrier was undercutting the price. Given the lowest logical airfare policy of this corporation why would you take a preferred carrier for $10,000 when you could take a competitive flight for $5,500? The perception of the airline was that it was the travelers looking to book on a competitor - but that was not reality.
In the end, I hope that each one of you challenges what you hear and what you think you know. There are alternatives for online expense management tools. There are choices when it comes to online booking tools. Not all TMC’s are created equal and many provide excellent service. It does not take longer create a PNR when you are being audited. If you think you are receiving all your commissions, you may be delusional. Fraud is happening in every company in the world, unless it is being monitored. Performance claims are not always true. Challenge everything to be sure you know the truth - it will make you a better travel manager and more valuable to your company.
And maybe stop that that food place that looks like a shack. You may find a hamburger with pressed pork belly and fried avocado that takes your taste buds to another happy place.