A Salute to Our Industry’s Heroes

Updated: Jul 25


When I penned this title, I felt like a patriotic song should be playing. Anyone who follows my writings and rants knows I typically relate real-world stories in my commentaries.

Inspiration for this piece came from a recent journey that made me realize I needed to stop and salute our Industry’s Heroes...those road warriors that spend time away from home to help us. They are a vital part of our industry.

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled, and my experiences on this trip refreshed my memory about the “joys” of being on the road. The time away was very productive, but the journey featured challenges that come with flying. Several years ago, I presented education sessions for industry trade shows and various Regional Associations. At that time, I became accustomed to what airline travel is all about. Now…I’m just not used to it.

And it isn’t just the flying. It’s just being away from the comforts of home. Social media features like “Hotel Room Views” from frequent traveler and Industry Hero Dana Zezzo are fun while stating the obvious. Our Industry Heroes are in hotels all the time. Hotels can be very nice, but there is nothing like being at home.

A few trips a year are NOTHING compared to those of our Industry Heroes. Most of us don’t realize how often these Heroes are away from home, their families, and their pets. When distributors see company reps in their booth, upbeat and ready to help…we don’t think about everything it took to get there. Connecting flights, delays, being around people with hacking coughs and runny noses. Lord only knows what you might sit next to on the plane. Hand sanitizer is a good item to use, and a hot item to sell.

Industry Heroes make our industry tick. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone is always on the road visiting members and attending industry events. Sales reps and regional sales managers are off to trade shows, key account sales meetings, and visiting clients. Without our Industry Heroes, things wouldn’t be the same. They are road warriors who can fight the travel battles and still come thru to do their job. It is these people and their continuing efforts that I want to thank. These people make things happen.

As an added element to this commentary, let me share a few of my air travel observations from my recent trip. Perhaps some of you can relate?

I was surprised by the new “options” available when I checked in at the airport kiosk. Would you like to upgrade to first class? Add…more money than I would like to pay. (First class isn’t what it used to be, but still nicer than coach.) Board early? $9.00 Sit on an aisle? $25.00 (if you don’t have that seat reserved). Check bags? Cha-ching!

And security procedures...are we really safer for everything they make us do?

Food choices always amaze me. Some airports offer a variety of options. For my early morning flight, I thought I would have breakfast at “Chili’s Too.” The restaurant was about half empty, but the wait was 45 minutes. I didn’t have that much time, so reluctantly, I opted for Burger King, where it took about 25 minutes to get through that line. Brilliant staffing management choices had just one cashier and four stations. The only healthy choice was oatmeal. And showing those calorie counts on the menus is pretty eye-opening. The little fried potato tot things I don’t eat were almost 1000 calories! Wow!

Starbucks? Forget about it. The waiting is no less arduous. Why does getting BAD coffee require such a significant time investment at the airport? (OK, I'm a coffee snob and like quality, small batch roasted coffee.) It doesn’t seem to take that long at the same store in town. More efficient food service at airports would be a blessing.

Lastly, I’m amazed by people’s lack of awareness or consideration for others. Since everyone is trying to pack for carry-on and avoid baggage check fees, it seems you must constantly be on the lookout for swinging backpacks or bags or people's small rolling suitcases blocking pathways.

Ok…that’s it for my airline travel gripes. The good news is after we go through all that, good things happen. Business gets done. Relationships are nurtured. We learn from our experiences. And love it or hate it, being able to wake up in one city and go to bed that night in another one across the country is a blessing. But the real blessing is cherishing our time at home in our own beds, with our families...and our pets, who miss us when we are away.

Safe travels, everyone!

© 2012 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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