It’s no wonder that video conferencing – especially cloud based — has become so popular among small businesses these days. It’s not only the convenience of conducting a meeting without leaving your office or launching one wherever you are from your smartphone, tablet or laptop using a headset for audio, air travel today is expensive as well as stressful.  (With the price of gas, car travel is catching up and we won’t even talk about freeway jams.)

plane is flying-offLong lines at airports, security checks, and flight delays from weather, downed reservation systems and mechanical problems can wear you out even before you settle back into your seat and turn off your wireless devices.  A friend of mine had to change planes three times at San Francisco airport one morning trying to get to Chicago because of mechanical problems with each of one of the aircraft.

Still there are times when nothing less than an in-person meeting will do. That’s why an article on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) website – “How to Recover from a Business Trip Gone Wrong” – caught my eye. It can be particularly devastating to your small business to lose a potentially significant customer or client or a current one because travel gone awry keeps you from getting to a meeting on time or at all.

As the article points out the latter is exactly what happened to Daniel Feiman, managing director of a global management and consulting firm in Southern California. He lost his biggest client and a missed speaking opportunity worth $5000 when he got stuck in an airport for over 24 hours. (From what I gather, Feiman was speaking at a conference his client organized.)

Steps to deal with business trip disaster

Here’s what Feiman advises from the experience:

Damage control: Even if the missed meeting is no fault of your own, make sure you let your customer know you are willing to do whatever it takes to make things right. For example, you might offer to do some additional work and not charge, other than out of pocket costs.

Backup plan: If a meeting is imperative for your client relationship or a potential one, consider what you could do if some reason, you were to miss it.  As I mentioned above, today’s desktop and mobile devices used with cloud-based video conferencing could save the day.  If presenting a plan or proposal is the purpose of getting together, you also could conduct a web conference whereby everyone could go through the presentation with you.

It might be advisable to leave more than one day in advance to get somewhere,  using the extra day to schedule additional appointments in the area.  Or consider sending another team member ahead if you can’t leave early. Every situation is going to be different and will require a different game plan.

Rebuild: Sometimes you just can’t fix a situation and have to accept that the customer is going to move on. At that point, you’ll need to redouble your marketing efforts to rebuild the lost business.

Technology is changing the way we get together so depending on planes, trains and automobiles may not be as important as it used to be. But if you need to be on hand, don’t leave anything to chance.