The Road Warrior’s European Fly/Drive Sojourn
Friday, November 11, 2005, Munich Germany
Last week, we left off with success (insofar as Internet connectivity was concerned) in the Confetti Suite; this after two other suites had no connectivity. Prior to my departure from the hotel (today’s plans called for a drive from Munich to Italy via Innsbruck across the Brennerpaß
as far as Sferzing, and looping back to Berchtesgaden), I passed by the front desk just in time to hear another guest complaining about problems with Net connectivity. He was quite upset (apparently, his room had no connectivity) and was simultaneously speaking with one of the hotel managers and someone on a customer service line. His complaint: had he known he would not have Internet access, he would have stayed elsewhere. Apparently, I was lucky to be in the Confetti Suite.
As Net access in hotels becomes as ubiquitous as television, hotels (such as the one I was staying in) catering to business travellers need to ensure a more seamless experience. Almost all hotels work with third-party providers; unfortunately, when that partner becomes unreliable, the hotel guest sees only the hotel brand and such unreliability tarnishes that brand. Unhappy guests seldom return, regardless of who was at fault.
Friday, November 11, 2005, Berchtesgaden, Germany
630 kilometers later and at an altitude of 950 m, I found myself comfortably ensconced in a suite at the recently-opened InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden. No Confetti Suite here; I was online within minutes. The biggest problem I had was finding an electrical outlet for the computer (the outlets were concealed behind a wood panel). Berchtesgaden was to be my base for the remainder of my trip.
During the balance of my stay, I visited Dürnstein (the town where Richard the Lionhearted was held captive), Lienz, Kitzbühel, and Sopron (Hungary) – in all, driving 2426 km.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005, Munich, Germany
I drove ca. 175 km to the town of Garching, outside of Munich, to turn the car over to the shipping agent, E.H. Harms. From Garching, it was a 15-minute ride to Munich’s ultra-modern Franz Josef Strauss Airport. As mentioned last week, I had been looking forward to trying Lufthansa’s FlyNet onboard Internet service, but on the trip over, the service was unfortunately kaput. I was pressing my thumbs together (German/Austrian equivalent of “fingers crossed”) for good luck for the flight home.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 11,000 m over Europe
As soon as we reached cruising altitude, my computer detected Wi-Fi and I logged into FlyNet. Seat power outlets are conveniently located and I had a choice of U.S. or the European Schuko connection systems. I started off with simple chores, such as checking the news (I decided NOT to grab a handful of newspapers as I boarded, opting – hoping – to see the more current online versions).
With Lotus Notes replicating my mail and other databases in the background, I started receiving Sametime instant messages from colleagues. Briefly put, my initial experience (discounting last week’s flight) with FlyNet was very positive. Granted, it was relatively slow (I did several speed tests and it was marginally faster than GPRS) but we WERE, after all, at 11,000 m cruising along at 860 km/h.
After reading some e-mail, I called home using Skype (quality was decent), checked my voicemail, upgraded iTunes, did some online banking – in short, nothing extraordinary, absent the venue.
My neighbor in seat 3J, Frau Frowein, lives in Munich and was visiting New York for the first time. She had some questions for me about things to do, so I suggested we look online at some information about events for the upcoming week in New York – another good use for FlyNet. I also recommended a concert at Carnegie Hall, so we looked at the program and she and I booked a ticket for her for a concert with Hilary Hahn. We also e-mailed her daughter (Frau Frowein had never used e-mail before).
About 3 hours into the flight, I briefly lost the connection but the service was flawless from that point forward.
Last Tuesday’s flight took place entirely during business hours in the United States. We departed at 15:15 local time, which is 09:15 in New York. We landed at 18:25 New York time. This represents an entire day – and given the pace at which the knowledge economy moves – missing one day is more than many can afford.
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.