Many young people, often freshly graduated, start their work as business consultants. It sounds so exciting: being out there in the wilderness (instead of the save environment of the lecture hall), taking care for real-life problems (instead of theoretical problems in your even more theoretical case studies) and really doing good for humankind (instead of just listening to professors promising you to make a fortune with that rock-solid knowledge you can gain from their lectures).
Reality often is different, but that is a story I might tell you another day.
Let’s focus on one point every consultant suffers from: travelling. In the beginning it even appeals to you: living in expensive hotels sipping a decent Daiquiri while talking to the nice girl next to you about the heroic deeds you’ve done the day before. But then you start planning that trip and reality washes over you.
Let’s assume you are working for a small consulting company. You don’t have your own secretary, the corporate travel department has not yet formed and booking a hotel does not rely upon a million different special contracts with hotels all over the world. So here we go.
You come to your office Monday morning at 7:00am. You think you are the very first person to be there, but there already is a note on your desk saying: “Urgent: Customer meeting at 4pm. Call me any time. P. Harris”. Mr. Harris is your boss and he either slept at the office or is an insomniac starting work way too early on Monday mornings. So you call him only to get to know that you must book a trip to the customer (who is in no mood to discuss any other date). Mr. Harris is already on his way and will meet you there.
Luckily you started work at 7:00am, so you still have some time to figure out how to get there in time. First a coffee.
You sit down and try to find the address of the customer. Google will definitely know the answer. Of course it does. On Google Maps it says, that it is 800km to get there by car. 800km with your Volkswagen Polo from 2001 with 60 horsepowers (it’s the first job, so it would be hard to compete with the BMW X5 4.0d of your boss) might get you there in 8 hours (if the winds are with you). That doesn’t seem to be a good option. So you start looking for airports around the customer’s location. There are three of them. Awesome. So let’s check out Skyscanner: okay, only one airport does have a connection left for today. Can you still reach the customer in time? Back to Google Maps and see how to get from the airport to the final destination. 1 hour with the underground train.
Maybe you can find a good train connection from here to the customer that does not ruin the company’s finances in one stroke. So you head to the online representation of the train company of your choice and check for schedules and prices. The train connection has 7 stop-overs with a transfer time of 5 minutes at the second last station… That includes quite some risk. Could I go on from there with the taxi (in case the train had some delay in between)?
Let’s check the distance once again at Google Maps: 41km. So if you sum those costs up, multiply them with the probability factor of a delayed train and add the quantity of sweat you definitely will lose when taking that option, you might decide to take the plane instead.
Back on Skyscanner you click the booking link only to get informed that the session has expired in the meantime. So you enter the same search data again. The flight is still there, yeah! You proceed. They ask for a return flight. A return flight? Oh my god, you totally forgot about your return trip. Can you book a flight for today in the evening? Maybe better get one for tomorrow in the morning, you never know what that meeting will turn into.
After you checked your watch once more you start realizing that the flight will leave in 3 hours time. So you book the flights, print your tickets and directly head for the airport. Luckily Apple invented the iPhone, so you can check and book a hotel on your mobile. And TripAdvisor’s mobile app will even make comparing different hotel options so easy. And once more you realize, that the iPhone 6+ would have been the better option…
Especially for handling the enormous complexity of travel booking.