It’s baffling how senior management thinks sometimes. With all due respect to those who manage well, I wonder if they have magically reached the level they are now without going through what we have gone through.
It’s not hard to sell something – although I hate sales – but of course, the success rate of a sale largely depends on how well the product is marketed. An undergraduate student would know this concept well, so, why not senior people with MBAs and PhDs? Of course, if you want to go international, the promotional costs are going to escalate. It’s doesn’t and wouldn’t work if you manage relationships at a distance. You need to go out to the field and talk to people, convince them.
A trip was proposed. The organiser is a reputable company which deals with exhibitions outside Malaysia. They gather all local institutions and fly us in a happy group to another country where we ‘sell’ Malaysia. The whole thing is sold to us in a package. All budget reports, paperwork, etc was completed. Yes, it is expensive – costed around RM33k for the whole trip. However, it was for 10 days. The trip was full of exhibitions, school visits, education department visits and inclusive of all airfare, ground transportation, lodging and food. So, the cost should be justifiable.
Just when I have done all my research – which took me a whole day, no less – these people are still doubtful.
To justify the proposed trip, I actually had to draw up another plan, ie, a trip to the same country, taking the same number of days, without following the organiser. Obviously, the exhibition cost would not be included and visits to schools and education department not included. The cost, obviously cheaper, came up to about RM20k
I mean, of course, exhibitions and meeting key influencers would be effective marketing, wouldn’t it? Heard of relationship building? It was just a RM13k difference! This could translate to cost to exhibit in two different cities in the country! Meeting large numbers of prospective customers. Whereas my own trip would mean only meeting agents!
Then, when the cost of the package is justified, they tried to breakdown the costs and see where they can save:
“Okay, buy the airticket ourselves! Use the Group’s travel agent!”
Fine! Cost reduced a bit – but I had to painstakingly make sure that I am booked on the same flight as everyone else. If not, sesat in a foreign country. Who is going to take the trouble to wait for me when everyone is picked up at the same time from one airport, go on a coach and sent to the hotel?
Costs are re-submitted. Then another comment:
“Why not book your own accommodation? There must be cheaper hotels! I can recommend some!”
This really takes the cake. I kinda argued:
Hello? You sent me there alone also fine. I can go with the group and feel safe. But now you want to send me away from the group to some godforsaken hotel which no one know how far it is from the one we will be staying at?
My questions to them:
1) Staying at another hotel means the organiser won’t be covering my ground transportation. Who would want to send you separately to another hotel?
2) You think taking taxi cheap?
3) What if I get driven somewhere else in the taxi?
4) There are a lot of different school and places to visit beside the exhibition. You expect me to take the taxi here and there while the others ride on a coach?
5) How do these people know the cheaper hotels they recommend are decent?
6) What if I fall ill, sesat, etc while getting back to the hotel?
7) Is it SAFE for me to stay alone?!
I mean, come on la, think of other things. YOU don’t travel. You won’t know how it’s like. Yea, some will think it’s cool that we get to travel and all that – and I do admit I enjoy it sometimes, else, I wouldn’t be in this line – but think of our welfare as well.
We may be employed by you but we do not have the obligation to forgo our safety to save costs for you. What’s the small amount? Heck, your monthly salary may just be equal to the amount I am spending!