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As I write this, I’m sitting in another airport headed to another conference.

Specifically, the United lounge at my “home” airport of
Dulles International Airport, enjoying a moment in the Red Carpet Lounge as my
flight is delayed 3 hours. I’m hoping to actually be taking off at the time I
should have been arriving in Miami, where I’ll be speaking at the Autotask
Community Live event.

These kinds of wonderful, “rock star” travel moments, scrambling
to find a seat in a crowded lounge to get some WiFi make you think long and
hard about the value of travel for your business. As fashionable and stylish as
travel is, is there something else you could be doing?

I travel frequently for the owner of a business in the IT
channel. I have amazing respect for those of our vendor partners who travel all
the time, hitting those 1K marks for air miles and being on the road 180 days
or more. More than respect, however, I’ve learned from them the value of
measuring the trip.

Any vendor who attends a channel conference will do a
measurement on the return on the cost of the event. They’ll understand what
their cost of being at the event is, both in time and in hard dollar cost, and
determine if the business they will gain, influence, or retain is worth the
investment. Sometimes they are there to build new business, other times to
maintain current relationships, but always for some level of business gain.

Will they land a new customer? Will they find out some new
trend that shapes how their business will go? Will they make a connection to a
partner to take their offering to the next level? All of these will be analyzed
to determine the value of the trip before they go.

After the trip, they’ll report back to their organization on
their findings, on their connections, on the new business won and the leads
collected. Each interaction will get tracked in their CRM, and will show,
quantitatively, the value of the engagement.

As solution providers, many of my colleagues don’t think
about this at all. They look at the parties, on the swag, and on the “feeling”
they got from the event. I’m not saying these aren’t important – particularly
not the energy that a set of new ideas can surge into a business. But traveling
for those reasons alone can cause more distraction than new business. Would the
time have been better spent working on the business? Or even in it, as the case
may be.

Think about all of your engagements in this manner. The “fun”
might be worth it – if you understand the cost. The moment you actually
understand the cost, however, your eyes open up to the fact that these
engagements have much deeper meaning, and business value.

I did the analysis for my business on this trip. It came out
positive, and thus I booked it. Are you doing that same calculation, each and
every time?