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LABJ FORUM: Not Such Friendly Skies

LABJ FORUM: Not Such Friendly Skies

Airport security is a mess, flights have been canceled and people are still just plain nervous about getting on a plane. Add to that corporate belt-tightening, and you have a recipe for business travel turmoil. In light of the environment, the Business Journal asks: How have your business travel plans changed in the last year?

Stepan W. Baghdassarian

Managing Partner

Law Offices of Stepan W. Baghdassarian

It has increased because of the firm’s expansion. In May, we opened a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Although going through security is taking longer, traveling internationally is necessary in today’s global economy. We have clients all over the world. Business has to go on and we need to travel when clients depend on us to get the job done. Because time is a precious commodity in the business world, air travel is necessary.

Israel Kotton

Partner

BDO Seidman LLP

My traveling is down about 50 percent over the last year, mostly because we have changed the way we work with clients. We now tend to do more conference calls. Clients are more focused on strategic spending, and so we try to get things done without travel. However, there are still some meetings where face-to-face contact is crucial, especially when you are in negotiations or dealing with a sensitive subject. Plus, judging people’s reactions is very difficult over the telephone. Although people are traveling less if they don’t have to, it is still a crucial part of business.

John Ringgenberg

Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager

Bank of America Private Bank

The amount of traveling I do hasn’t changed. I still go to the Bay Area several times a month and across the country several times a year. The time commitment involved in traveling, however, has changed because of the increased need for security. I am always going to see clients, attend seminars and give lectures. At this level, maintaining relationships with clients is important.

Sandra Sternig-Babcock

Executive Director

Dubnoff Center

Because travel by air has become so cumbersome, I have really started to drive more if I can. Between the difficulty and the time involved in air travel, I have found that a short trip by plane can take almost as long as by car. In addition to the hassle, we have cut our air travel because of budget restrictions. Although there is plenty of business that has to be done in person, we have to be selective about it. Cutting air travel has made it a little more difficult to conduct certain kinds of business, but everyone is trying to cut costs too, so they are flexible about conducting business is other ways than traveling.

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