Sales Culture Rule 7: Practice What You Preach

“The injury we do and the one we suffer are not weighed in the same scales.”

-Aesop, Fables

Air travel is expensive. Corporate air travel is even more expensive. I have often wondered how companies assign a value of a particular employee traveling to attend a meeting, visit a customer, or whatever other business one may travel to attend to. When you’re talking about full, round-trip Business fares that can easily creep into the tens of thousands of dollars for international connections, I would presume that there is at least a high-level analysis to determine how critical an individual’s physical attendance really is. Leave it to airline marketers to analyze, and they’ll say it’s worth it every time, obviously. But, ironically enough, of all of the industries I’ve researched, which one consistently employs some of the strictest travel policies? You guessed it–airlines.

This always puzzled me, as airlines don’t have to pay hardly anything to travel for business. Not only are flights free, since the traveler is usually just occupying an otherwise empty seat and available seat kilometer (ASK) that would be a sunk cost anyway, or a comp seat on another carrier, but airlines usually even have access to discounted hotel rates, not to mention any barter opportunities. But I’ve seen more than one carrier with an incredibly strict travel policy, that limits traveling for sales calls, development opportunities for staff, or for Head Office visits for anything other than top regional management. I’ve always found it to be a bit hypocritical, then, that carriers are selling their corporate clients on exactly what their own travel policies are aligned against, and expecting them to pay exorbitant sums in the process.

There’s no communication like face-to-face communication, and that basic premise is what drives front-of-the-plane sales for an airline. Given their cost advantage when it comes to anything travel related, it seems to make sense that airlines would be first in line to lead the corporate travel parade, rather than keep their sales staffs locked up in the coop. If airlines themselves are cutting travel, how can they expect companies actually paying for that travel not to do the same?


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