Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign!

On my way to work this morning, I passed a gas station sign offering regular gas for $3.76/gallon. YIKES! Alarming? Yes, but what really scares me is how it is impacting my livelihood! I use “is” instead of “will” because I can no longer put this issue on the back burner while I continue business as usual and neither can you.

Just two weeks ago at GMIC’s Sustainable Meeting Conference, Ian Lee, an airline industry analyst at Carleton University warned us six out of 14 European airlines will go out of business by 2015 if oil prices remain at US$100 per barrel. If prices reach US$150 per barrel, nine out of 14 will disappear. Lee drew his data from a recent presentation by a senior executive with Irish air carrier Aer Lingus.

Lee commented “the cost of energy will radically impact the airline industry, the tourism industry, the hotel industry and the meeting industry. It will completely transform our economies, and it’s going to undermine globalization” (source: Mitchell Beer’s post, The Meetings Industry Confronts Its Achilles’ Heel http://csrwiretalkback.tumblr.com/post/3554111820/the-meetings-industry-confronts-its-achilles-heel.”)

Scary, I thought at time. I will definitely have to think about how our organization will retool to continue to thrive in the future…later…after the conference…after catching up when I get back to work…after the weekend and so on. This morning when I looked up at that sign, it might as well have read, “The Future is Here, Nancy!”

Today's to-do list now reads, 1) What can I do right now to guarantee our business is still viable tomorrow?

What’s on your list today?


Mitchell Beer said...

Nancy, it's been interesting to see the uptick in conversation about oil prices in the various meetings industry media. Everyone is understandably concerned about ticket prices in the air, pump prices on the ground. But as you point out, Ian Lee's talk at GMIC brought out a much bigger concern -- how do we get distant participants to face-to-face meetings when air tickets aren't available at any price, because there are no longer enough airlines to supply them?

As an industry, we've been here before. We noticed fuel prices in 2008, then forgot about them when the economy crashed and oil retreated from its all-time high of US$147/barrel. This time, I really hope we get the message that cheap oil is a thing of the past, that every period of lower prices is an opportunity to buy time while we adapt -- but that, as you point out so well, that adaptation has to begin right now.

Nancy J. Zavada, CMP said...

The ability to be proactive instead of reactive will serve the meeting community well. Thanks for the comment and for spreading the word, Mitchell.