Some people might think that it's
crazy for a 10-person public relations firm to institute a policy
allowing every staff member to fly first class on any business
trip. But, short-haul or long-haul, it's not about leg room, and
it's not about getting a meal. PJ Inc., based in New York, notified
its employees of a first-class-only business travel policy in June
after two staff members had a nightmare travel experience returning
from a business trip to Mexico. It was the final straw.
companies are going in the opposite direction, with demands to
reduce travel expenses, we believe that first-class air travel for
business travelers isn't a perk; it's an essential.
My only regret is
that we didn't institute this years ago.
We're in the
business of promoting many travel clients, and it makes sense for
our team to feel like traveling isn't a burden. We feel that if our
employees are important enough to be on the road for us and our
clients, then they deserve, at minimum, to not cringe every time
they have to hit the road.
To cite many
unbearables would be to complain. And any travel industry employee
complaining about travel, especially to anyone outside of the
industry, is counterproductive.
With clients all
over the world, whether we're popping to Denver for a technology
client, heading to Mexico for a site inspection or holding a press
conference at an airport, we need to arrive in good shape, look
decent and have the ability to change plans and flights at the last
minute without hassle.
Let's be honest, it
helps us like what we do a whole lot more and makes "enthusiastic
business traveler" less of an oxymoron.
The money is well
spent, and the benefits easily outweigh the costs. And for any
costs that clients aren't willing to cover, PJ Inc. is happy to
foot the bill.
What could be more
important than employee retention?
Doing business in
the air is part of the byproduct that benefits our agency and our
clients. How can you beat sitting next to Robin Miller from the
Food Network on the way back from Arizona? Staff can be comfortable
enough to break out the laptop and get hours of work done that
might not happen otherwise.
Then there's the
other rationale. I met my former husband in coach. Now I only
travel in first class.
Pamela Johnston is the president of PJ Inc., a public
relations firm in New York.