Friday, August 7, 2009

The Benefits of First Class

If you are an investment banker or consultant, most likely you are flying first class to your various destinations. Many people look at this as both a luxury or a frivolous waste of money. In fact most companies have policies associated with what class of flight you can purchase, whether you can upgrade and when you are allowed to fly business class. Unfortunately I think this is one of the more penny wise and pound foolish decisions a company can make.

I had the benefit of flying first class round trip on my three week trip to Hawaii. I made the most of it when I could. In fact, it was worth every penny I can see right now, and if I was in business development, even more.

Forget the fact that you can both work more efficiently in a first class seat, but arrive at your destination more rested, but just the people that you meet is in itself, the very reason to fly first class. On my four legs, there were three people I met that stand out from both a personal development as well as interesting people that a business may want to have an in with.

I met, a television producer. This gentleman was quite interesting, and I even knew one of his productions, the documentary, Carrier on PBS.

I met a professional photographer whose main business is going to motor sports and taking pictures of vehicles that drive on Bridgestone tires.

Both of those gentleman were interesting and may know others that can help you in the long run, but the one gentleman that was most interesting to me, was a former diplomat and ambassador to an asian nation. He is now an EVP for a asian conglomerate and has his PHD from Harvard. Interesting guy and am glad to have met him. But can you imagine the possibilities for your company?

Here is the head of business development for a major multi-national. He talked to me about the companies expansion in Russia and in asia. You have got a high level executive, without a gatekeeper in front, and you have a captive audience for a 4 hour flight. That is even better than a golf course.

I was putting him in touch with a couple colleagues, with the hope they could develope something from the relationship. Asian companies are all relationship based and you never know what could happen.

This is why investment bankers and consultants sit in first class. Not because it is posh, but because it is lucrative. First class gets you decision makers in an organization as not every executive flies on a private jet, and in fact most companies have policies around executives being on the same plane.

Next time you are in a first class seat, talk up your neighbor, you might be surprised at who they are and who they know.

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