Terri Morrissey and Richard Plenty share their thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks of new technology when it comes to meeting up and doing business.
We may be in the middle of a pandemic, but we have rarely been so busy! During September and October, we delivered three separate ‘virtual’ intensive five-day ACI HR programmes to 39 participants from all over the world.
For most of those attending this was the final ‘elective’ course in the completion of their 2020 AMPAP programme.
Whilst we had to amend and adapt the content to fit a virtual format and to ensure it was relevant for the current times, the basic concepts and framework were similar to the face-to-face courses we have run for ACI over recent years.
The courses were very well received, much to our surprise. People enjoyed them, and a strong spirit developed on each programme as people got to know each other in plenary sessions and breakout rooms.
The three programmes, all carried out via ZOOM, were very much interactive events, with engaging conversations and discussions, and a high standard of participation and learning. Each course created its own connected community of learners.
There were some other considerable advantages. Costs were far lower, with thousands of dollars saved in travel and accommodation. There was no time lost in travel, there was less impact on the environment – and no one caught COVID!
Still, the ability to meet and engage virtually strikes at the very core of the aviation offering – that of connecting people and places. It provides a competitive alternative which cannot be ignored.
After all, if even airport managers can meet virtually for business and training, saving time, money and the environment, what does this tell us about the future of business travel more generally? Will it be a luxury of the past?
Well, perhaps, but the jury is still out on what the best blend of ‘face-to-face’ and virtual working will turn out to be.
Now that organisations have had nine months experience of remote working, its limitations are becoming clearer. Zoom fatigue has become a reality for many. Many meetings are purely transactional and do not engage the hearts and minds in the same way as face-to-face can.
Face-to-face remains the gold standard for in depth communication and interactions, particularly those needing creativity, innovation and spontaneity.
These are far harder to orchestrate in a virtual setting. They cannot be easily reduced to an hour long pre-scheduled meeting. They require chance meetings, informal chit chat and the gossip that comes from encounters in the corridors and in the canteen.
Likewise, social interaction is still needed as the foundation for the deep levels of trust needed in complex business and commercial interactions. Body language and demeanour tell us a lot about others.
As Aristotle said: ‘Man is a social animal’. We need the company of others and to be surrounded by people to engage creatively. And we need to meet in order to engage.
And as for us, whilst we enjoyed the virtual sessions we ran this year, the real experience is even better, and we hope to return to some face-to-face programmes in 2021.
While digital can play its role while we need to continue to keep our physical distance, it cannot substitute for the richness of the human experience we get from meeting each other socially and getting to know where people live and work!
Arrivals and Departures
Munich Airport president and CEO, Jost Lammers, is to serve a second term as president of ACI Europe. Lammers, re-elected at ACI Europe’s recent virtual Annual Congress and General Assembly, said: “There has never been a more challenging time for the airport industry. And precisely because of this, the role played by ACI Europe has never been more important.”
London Gatwick is on the lookout for a new chief financial officer after Nick Dunn ended a 10-year stint at the UK gateway to become CFO of CityFibre. Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, said: “Nick is a strategic thinker and has contributed hugely as part of my team.” The airport’s deputy chief financial officer, Lorenzo Rebel, has agreed to fill the void until a permanent replacement is found.
Luciana Burdi is the new director of capital programs and environmental affairs for Boston Logan operator, Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).She succeeds Sam Sleiman who is retiring after27 years with Massport.
Kam Jandu has decided to step down as chief commercial officer of Budapest Airport to seek new opportunities in 2021. Jandu joined the Hungarian airport as aviation director in 2009 but is probably best known for his success as the gateway’s CCO since 2013, during which time he was responsible for its airline and commercial marketing, commercial passenger services and cargo operations.
Groupe ADP has announced a number of management changes. They include Antoine Crombez and Régis Lacote leaving their roles as chief of staff and managing director of Paris-Orly Airport respectively to become GMR Airports Ltd’s new deputy CEO and chief operations officer (COO). The Indian airport operator is 49% owned by Groupe ADP. Lacote’s position as managing director of Paris-Orly Airport has been filled by Justine Coutard while Crombez’s former chief of staff job, attached to the chairman and CEO of Groupe ADP, has gone to Claire Viellard.