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Aired March 9, 2003 - 08:30:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: The average business trip is four nights away from home. That's time spent apart from families and friends. So on this months CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER, the stresses and strains of life on the road.
Hello and welcome to CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER. I'm Richard Quest, this month reporting from Milan.

It's Sunday in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and families are out enjoying themselves, but for you it's just another weekend on the road. You haven't spoken to your partner in ages; your children are just photographs in your wallet; and friends, they're just a distant memory.

So, in this program, how do you handle life on the road?


QUEST (voice-over): We show you the gadgets that claim to help you stay in touch, and the certain members of the family who aren't always welcome. It's the big question among business travelers: Should babies be allowed in business class.


The Colombo family, at home in Milan; Guciano (ph), his wife, Jucie (ph), their children, their uncles, their cousins.

Here in Italy, the extended family is a way of life. The Colombos need little excuse for a family get-together. In fact, they own and run their own business, which creates special issues that we'll look at later in the program.

For everyone, balancing work with family life becomes that much harder when there's a traveling executive involved. How to be part of family life when you're on the other side of the world. And, for single people, having a social life when you're never there to join in.

We've brought some experts along to give advice.


QUEST (voice-over): Two business travelers with two very different lives. They both spend around 50 percent of their time away from home.

They have the challenging task of balancing work with home life. But while Nick King is single, Rom de Vries is married with children.

When Rom is away, he puts everything into his work. When he's at home, in Munich, he's very much the family man.

ROM DE VRIES TRAVELING BUSINESSMAN: It's very important, I believe, that when you're at home, if you really dedicate yourself to the family, especially when the kids are there, that you go into the lives of the kids completely.

QUEST: Difficulties arise, though, when it's time to say goodbye, particularly for Rom's wife, Saskia.

SASKIA DE VRIES, WIFE: The moment he needs to pack his stuff, this is always, yes, quality time is over, job is starting, weekend is over. Everything is over. We have to wait a few days.

QUEST: The children too find this process of separation equally hard. They miss Daddy, and when they're young, they have little concept of time or what "Daddy is coming home on Wednesday" actually means.

GILLIAN WALTON, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I think it's probably helpful to say, "There will be three more sleeps, and then I'll be back," or "You'll have your breakfast three times, and then I'll be back, and the next day, we'll have breakfast together." Make it very simple and very practical and rooted in what they're doing.

QUEST: The key to all of this is keeping in touch. It's crucial.

S. DE VRIES: Hi, Rom, good to talk to you, honey. How are you doing?

R. DE VRIES: I'm doing fine, although the day was pretty long and tough, from a travel perspective.

QUEST: And yet, getting wrapped up in meetings, it's easy to forget when you said you would call, and that can cause problems.

WALTON: Try and stick to the agreements that you've made to ring at a certain time, because not doing so raises anxiety and fear, and anger and irritation, all kinds of things about, am I forgotten, where do I rate in the levels of importance.

QUEST: Even in the healthiest relationships, time apart takes its toll. You spend days imagining how perfect home life is, and when you get home, the bubble bursts. Nothing is quite as idyllic as you'd remembered.

WALTON: Because often, the person who's been away feels that there's, you know, a scene going on at home from which he or she is excluded, doesn't have a place, doesn't belong. And quite often, the person who is left at home has some feelings about having had to manage on her or his own while the other is away and has created a life that doesn't really include the absent one quite so much.

So the person who's at home has to make space to include the person who's been away, and the person who's away has to find a sensitive way of actually infiltrating.

QUEST: He may not have a close family to think about, but for Nick, returning home from a business trip also has its difficulties.

He spends more than 50 percent of his time away from home. He rarely sees his friends.

NICK KING, TRAVELING BUSINESSMAN: You get a sort of whole bunch of new messages on your phone, and then they start trailing off, you know, because you haven't responded to the first five, that sort of thing.

KATI ST. CLAIR, BUSINESS PHYCOLOGIST: What I tend to advise (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is to put out that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and to keep it sacred, and hold those few who are prepared to put up with this and who are dear to them, in some kind of constancy.

QUEST: And while Nick's social life may be on the thin side, his love life is nonexistent.

KING: I've been doing the job for over three years and haven't been in a serious relationship in that time. It would be almost impossible, but also unfair.

QUEST: Nick's happy to be single, and he loves his job, but he's no spring chicken. At the age of 43, like many business travelers in his situation, he's in danger of putting all his eggs in the career basket.

ST. CLAIR: Especially suddenly to marry the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, if the job changes and suddenly they have to stay put and their contemporaries are all in a huge social circle, they're married, they have got their friends, and there they are, very high and dry.

QUEST: Nick and Rom know they need to put a time limit on their travels and both plan to leave the hectic lifestyle of the business traveler behind them by the time they're 45.

The experts say that this is the key to a happy business traveler, knowing where to draw the line, knowing at the back of your mind that one day you'll put work life aside and focus on life instead.


Until now, it's been up to the employee to balance traveling on work with home life, but now companies are getting in on the act and helping out, and they're not doing it out of some altruism or good feeling. Instead, it makes commercial sense, and eventually leads to higher profits.

This is what some companies are doing to lend a hand.


SARAH POPE, PRICE WATERHOUSE COOPER: With flexible working, it just helps me retain a better perspective on life. I think the idea that work can be all encompassing at times - it's great now that I can actually look to the way I've constructed my employment contract and say, well, there's a half-a-day per week that is as important to me to be doing things for myself as it is for me to respond the other 4-1/2 days a week doing things for the firm.

IAN BARNARD, COGENT INVESTMENT OPERATIONS: Productivity has improved, and interestingly our overtime has also fallen sort off at the same time, but also, it's a happier environment to work and that knocks on to our client satisfaction being improved as well. So we believe that our clients are seeing or receiving a better service from Cogent as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem with work-life balance, as I see it, is there are quite a lot of managers in a variety of companies in a variety of countries who are wedded to the old fashion notion that people should be around the office, and they like to call meetings when they call meetings. They want their empires there, and I think that's the great inhibitor.


QUEST: One way to control your working hours is to own your own company. So after the break, behind the scenes of ELCO. The Colombos (ph) show us what it's like to run a family business.


QUEST: Welcome back to BUSINESS TRAVELLER, coming to you from Italy.

This is the Colombo family business. It's called ELCO and they make motors, by the thousands. In fact, 30,000 motors a day are made here to go into refrigerators around the world.

The Colombos have owned this company since it started three generations ago, and it begs the question, what's it like when your boss is your brother and your cousin is your colleague?


MEARA ERDOZAIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Luciano and Enzo (ph) arriving at work, 60 years after the business began.

Back then, this was a tiny company making tiny pieces of machinery. Today the products are still small, but the company is big.

With every company comes a sizable amount of bureaucracy, and this, say the Colombos, is when having a family business helps.

LUCIANO COLOMBO (through translator): The main advantage of being is to have the possibility to have a very quick decision process. We can easily face the problem and take a decision without complicated procedure, and this makes the process very efficient and very effective.

ERDOZAIN: There are all sorts of benefits. Staff loyalty, for example. You're much less likely to abandon ship if you have a personal stake in the company you work for.

But what happens if you don't want to work for the company in the first place? Cousins Luciano and Enzo (ph) run ELCO together. They always knew they'd end up in the family business.

L. COLOMBO (through translator): It was quite logical and simple that my life would be inside the company. At that stage, you consider the business environment, the family environment, the economical environment. To drop this line would have been a very (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and very complex decision.

ERDOZAIN: Nowadays, there's more choice and it's no longer expected that the next generation will necessarily follow in the family footsteps.

L. COLOMBO (through translator): The day will come when I will be no more involved in the company, and my son -- it will be a sad decision. I was in the company since I was 19. It's sad to imagine that one day all of this will be just dust.

ERDOZAIN: Right now, the factory is whirring away. Business is good. But the history, the pride -- for the Colombos, running a business together for three generations is the real success story of ELCO.

For CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER, I'm Meara Erdozain, in Milan.


QUEST: Even if you own your own business, that still means traveling the globe, and that means difficulties staying in contact with those back home.

So on this month's ROAD TEST, the gadgets that will help you stay in touch.


QUEST (voice-over): First, for live face-to-face Web chats with your family, the Cool-iCam Micro-Cam, a digital camera, video camera, and Web camera, all in one.

Next, the Casio digital camera watch, any double agents dream.

And, finally, T-Mobile's roaming picture messaging service, using the Nokia 7650, so your snapshots are back home before you are.


RICHARD LANDER, CITYWIRE: . a whole bunch of gadgets that will hopefully help me keep in touch with my family back in London.

So I'm just going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and see if I can see my daughter with the Web cam.

Well, we can chat, but the Web cam appears to be showing nothing at all.

I tried to use the Web cam and it didn't work and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

OK, so this is the watch. It's very (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in a "James Bond" sort of way. You can take pictures of things (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

I'm sending to everyone at home a picture of myself to show them what I've been doing, and off it goes (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

Got back from Cannes. Had a great trip. Saw all the new mobile phones and they look absolutely wonderful.

As for the stuff I took with me, the Web cam -- couldn't get it to work. Don't bother. The wristwatch with the camera built in, very keen. A lot of people liked that. Couldn't really do much with the pictures, you couldn't really see them that well. The mobile phone camera worked fantastically. I could send pictures back to my wife and children, show them what I was doing in Cannes, enjoying the sunshine.


QUEST: Coming up after the break, even the most family-friendly business travelers want some peace and quiet, the time when they want to be left alone. So should babies be allowed to fly in business class?

The debate is next.


QUEST: Picture it. You thought you had a 10 hour flight ahead, a chance to finish that presentation or even rest. And then, you see it, the baby -- or even worse, toddler -- who is determined to ruin your journey.

And as the child starts to wail, so do you.


QUEST (on camera): Babies in business class. If there's one issue that will really get the bigger babies -- us regular business travelers -- up in arms about, this is it, as I discovered when I wrote an article for the BUSINESS TRAVELLER Web site.

A hornet's nest was opened. You left me in no doubt as to your views.

(voice-over): "Why should we pay the extra if a baby is screaming for the whole flight? Do not be misguided enough to think we pay the extra money for the sake of the food."

Brad Paton, from Paris, suggested, "If you expect to be treated like the royalty of the 18th century, then you should find a private means of transport."

(on camera): What's fascinating about this subject is that everybody has a view, and some are more extreme than others.

VICTORIA MATHER, TRAVEL EDITOR: I hate babies. I hate them in business class. They are revolting, repulsive and unnecessary and you don't want them there.

NICK PERRY, "BUSINESS TRAVELLER" MAGAZINE: You've got to acknowledge the fact that a baby or a child as got just as much right to be in business class as you do. That doesn't stop your heart sinking ever-so-slightly as you walk into business class, which you think is this exclusive zone, and you've got some little person sitting next to you. But there's nothing you can do about it.

QUEST: All right, so baby Jacob and baby Nicholas have as much right to sit in business class as I do. Their parents can afford the ticket.

But what about if I want to do some work? With all this noise?

ANN LONGFIELD, CEO, KID'S CLUB NETWORK: More often than not, it is adults who are making more noise, and I think we can all live with a baby making a little bit of noise now and again.

MATHER: I've got to be up and running at the end of this. That's what I paid business rates for, for business. Children are not on business. They're just on the business of wrecking everybody else's business.

QUEST: So, when they're intent on destroying my work time, and more importantly my sleep, who's going to come to my rescue?

PERRY: The best thing to do is handle it through the crew. If you go to the parents directly, then you're implying that they don't know how to handle their own children, which is only going to exacerbate the situation.

MATHER: For parents to have paid that sort of price is entirely selfish. And what they should do is pay the price for a nanny to come and for a nanny to sit in back with their children.

They've only got legs that long, haven't they? What are they concerned about leg space for? Give us a break.


QUEST: As everyone always says, never work with animals or babies. And to that list you can now add fly with them in business class. Although, since all the airlines we spoke to say they've no intention of banning babies, I guess they have rights too.

You can join in this controversial debate. Visit our Web site. It's at CNN.COM/BUSINESSTRAVELLER, where you'll also find other interesting and controversial views. And you can send me yours. It's the usual e-mail address,

One thing that will certainly stop the children from crying is the present that you bring home, but guess what, it's the last day of your trip and you've forgotten to buy anyone anything. And the plane goes in just a few hours. Time to get professional advice from professional shoppers.

Barbara is with us to give us those last minute shopping tips.

BARBARA LESSDRIA, PROFESSIONAL SHOPPER: Well, yes, you're on a trip, you feel guilty. You miss your family, your husband, your wife, and you have to get something that will really make them smile.

An umbrella is a wonderful present because it's original, it's better than a tie or a scarf, which is really, really, really, average. An umbrella means you've thought about them. It's small. You always need one. A husband or a wife, it's the same, because both need an umbrella. It's $25 (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and you can put it anywhere, because it's really small.

When it comes to the children, it's actually much easier, because you can always find something colorful. There's always shops in every city where you can find a teddy bear, stationary, something.

For little boys, I would always, if you're in Italy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a Ferrari sweatshirt or a hat, and you will really make him happy.

There's only one thing worse than (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the airport, and that's this. This is a total failure.

QUEST: When it comes to deciding what to take home, you can always bring along a few delicacies, just as I'm enjoying now, because that's it for this edition of CNN BUSINESS TRAVELLER.

I'm Richard Quest, with the Colombo family, here in Mila. Wherever your travels may take you, I hope it's profitable and just as tasty. Salute.



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