Hanging out in the Asheville airport as Mike Romano and I head home after a whirlwind visit to our Asheville service center and spent time with the terrific team who administer our benefit programs. I always appreciate the time spent with Les Greer and our Asheville folks as they work their way, along with members of our Arlington crew through many rounds of testing as we move through our CORE project – a new, member-focused interface for employee benefits. This conversion will also create the ability for NTCA member employees to manage their own benefits electronically and make their lives easier. But progress is always a tad tough and as with any large data base conversion, testing, testing and more testing is necessary. Our team currently has 29 staff members “living” in our conference center testing away, only to take a quick break for our all staff meeting this morning so Mike and I could share some thoughts with them. Any way that we can bring My NTCA Benefits more effectively and efficiently to our members is a good thing and worth the angst getting there….especially given the volume of work they handle, having processed 179,000 claims already in the first quarter of this year.
The trip was a good one but we also had a unique experience as we traveled down yesterday morning. I don’t know how many other folks have this happen to them but it seems that nearly every flight I am on these days, the person next to me is secretly texting someone as we hurtle down the runway. Do they think it’s their last chance to say goodbye? Is there a pressing item on their shopping list they just remembered? Was there something really that critical that needed to be said just at that point in time? Apparently so. But as we were landing yesterday morning, through very low cloud cover, the pilot came on and said that due to the low visibility landing, the landing was going to be instrument driven and he wanted no possible interference so being in “airplane” mode would not be good enough and the stewardess walked down the aisle making sure that everyone completely powered off every device they had and ear buds were out of ears. A tad disconcerting and given all of our travel, neither one of us has had this experience before. We obviously landed safely and with no drama but it did make me want to take away the texting phone from my seatmate this afternoon as she pounded away until we hit 5,000 feet in the air but that was nothing compared to my last leg seatmate who talked on his cellphone all the way down the runway….