Open Booking Takes Off With United

The corporate travel industry today took a big step toward making Open Booking a practical choice for travelers and travel managers.

United and Concur announced their intention to launch a TripLink-enabled booking path on United.com by the first quarter of 2015.  It will allow corporate travelers to obtain net-of-discount pricing, and have their reservations serviced online and by UAL’s reservation department.

Booking data will be automatically sent to the Concur platform, where it will be available to travel managers for further compliance monitoring and duty of care processing.

Folks, this is the hat trick of Open Booking – discounts, data and duty of care.

What’s not clear yet is how the TMC fits into this.   Continue reading

Posted in Managed Travel 2.0, Travel Management | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

What’s Your Worst-ever Business Trip?

Trip KnotsYou know how travelers love to whinge and moan about their worst business trips, right?

It’s a popular cocktail party topic, and a harmless way to play a bit of one-upsmanship.  Sometimes it’s a way to stake out some sympathy from colleagues or customers.

With all those stories about trips from hell out there, I thought it would be fun to collect some of them – so my firm is launching a contest to do that.

tClara will pick the three best (worst, really) stories and give each winning author a $100 gift card.  We’ll publish the winning stories, and use them and some of the others to bring tClara’s concept of Trip Friction™ to life.  No individual or company names will be published – we’re not trying to embarass anyone or any firm.

Here’s the link to the contest:  My Worst-ever Business Trip Contest

If you know any travelers who love to trot out their favorite road warrior yarns, please share this with them.  The contest is open to anyone so long as they have a credible LinkedIn profile and write about a true business trip. The contest closes on July 11th.

To learn more about Trip Friction and traveler burnout, see tClara’s latest briefing deck or see these posts.  I’ll deliver a sponsored education session on Trip Friction at GBTA’s Convention on July 29th in Los Angeles.

Here’s wishing everyone less Trip Friction in your travels!

Posted in Traveler Friction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Solving the Blah-Blah Travel Data Problem

Good-Bad Street SignTravel managers routinely rank travel data as one of their most important issues. Yet AirPlus recently reported that 56% of North American travel managers surveyed said they would not be willing to pay for better travel data.

OK, so let’s assume those buyers are reasonable folks.  How do we explain, then solve this conundrum?

Those buyers must not see much value – provable, hard dollar value – in “better” travel data.  I get that.  This industry has put up with mediocre travel data for so long that we’re used to ordinary, low-value, blah-blah data and data reporting. Continue reading

Posted in Data, Travel Management | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Brighter Way to Measure Travel’s Impact

For the amount of money firms spend on travel, surely they’d like to know the impact. There is an incredibly practical – and pretty easy –  way to answer this question.

Forget about ROI – it’s too theoretical.  Skip Big Data – it’s irrelevant.  Instead, focus on what matters and what’s measurable.

Think about the issue this way: At what point is too much travel counter-productive?

Spend too much time on planes and you’re not selling.  Cross too many time zones and you’re not giving clients such good advice, or making such good decisions on that oil rig. Take too many redeyes in coach and you’re seeing a doctor for a cranky neck or worse, deep vein thrombosis.

It’s about cause and effect; travel and impact. So the approach is simple.

First, identify the road warriors in your firm, and their business unit leaders.  Ask those business unit leaders which business metrics matter, and might be affected by too much travel, and are measurable.  Think sales, hours billed, customer satisfaction, safety, etc.

Go to HR, and ask which HR metrics matter, and might be affected by too much travel, and are measurable.  Think absenteeism, engagement, disability costs, retention, etc.

Now use your travel data to find a comparable group of employees that has done much less travel than your road warrior group.  So now you have a cohort of low-travel employees and a cohort of high-travel employees.

We’re almost there.  With a bit of analytical muscle, measure each cohort’s average result on each metric.  Then compare the two groups, testing for statistical differences. Something like this, perhaps:

Slide2

Voila!  You now have a fact-driven analysis of travel’s impact.  The impact on your business, and the impact on your people. The implications will be clear.

Too much turnover, absenteeism and disability costs among your high-travel group?  Cut back their travel workload and/or loosen your travel policies for the road warriors.

No meaningful differences between the two groups?  Your travel policies are probably fine, but then what is all that extra, possibly excessive, travel really doing for your firm?

Either way, having these facts gives travel managers, HR executives and business leaders a clear-eyed view of travel’s impact.  Making solid business cases for changing travel workloads, travel budgets and travel policies is now ever so much easier.

The best part?  Travel category managers get to lead on this issue.  For you folks that are frustrated by delivering diminishing returns from mature sourcing and policy compliance, you should be first in line to drive this type of study in your organization.

For those interested in jump-starting a travel impact study, tClara and I can help.  We can quickly score your travelers’ Trip Friction™ levels, create the cohorts, and benchmark your firm’s travel intensity to those in our database.

I’ll be at the ACTE Global Conference in Miami at the end of this month, and hope to connect with many of you there.

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Posted in Metrics and KPIs, Sustainable Travel, Travel Management, Travel Policy, Traveler Friction | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Identifying Travel-related Retention Risks

?????????Who can say when a traveler has reached that dreary destination of travel burnout?

It’s a very individual issue, yes?  For some, it may take years of constant hopping from terminal to taxi, while others may arrive after a few weeks of  run-of-the-mill trips, but are suffering the consequences of way too many problems piling up at home.

I knew I was in travel burnout land when, after a few months of intense travel, the sight of my suitcase made me cringe.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to identify travelers at risk of burnout, without having to flash pictures of carry-ons in front of them and look for signs of dread.

My firm, tClara, is scoring traveler itineraries with Trip Friction™ points.  The goal is to create a proxy for the wear and tear travelers incur during their trips.

Why bother?  Because all that travel-related wear and tear eventually creates real costs.  Productivity costs.  Health care and even disability costs.  Lower employee engagement levels.  And eventually the toughest one – employee turnover.

Our industry needs a good metric, a new KPI, to shine a light on this hidden cost of too much travel. Without such a metric, I don’t see how you can truly claim to optimize a travel program…but that’s another story.  Here’s our approach to measuring traveler wear and tear: Continue reading

Posted in Travel Management, Travel Procurement, Traveler Friction | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Road Warrior Burnout: A Worthy Problem

Too much travel can cause anybody a load of stress.   Exhibit A is Brad Feld, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known angel/venture capitalists.  He lives in Colorado and was traveling 50-75% of the time.   He hit a wall.  Knew he couldn’t keep it up and still lead an emotionally healthy life.

His solution?  He quit traveling for business – cold turkey.  The Harvard Business Review interviewed him here, and Brad writes about it here.   Not traveling seems to be working for him.

The question is, how many of your firm’s road warriors are in danger of hitting this kind of wall?  The consequences can’t be good.

An Alarming “What If”

Imagine if the top ten percent of your frequent travelers called a long-term strike on business travel, like Brad Feld did.  What would happen to your customer relationships,  business development, staff development, collaboration, innovation, etc, etc.? Not to mention the cost of replacing those no-more-travelers  with folks who will travel a lot (or so they say).

What Are The Signs?

Surely your frequent travelers make up some, maybe much of your firm’s top-rated talent.  So who is watching for the early warning signs of traveler burnout?  Who even knows what those signs are?

And if you see those early warning signs, what’s the right response – less travel? Better quality or less stressful travel? Travel recovery days? Dinner for two on the company’s dime?

Who Owns The Problem? Continue reading

Posted in Managed Travel 2.0, Metrics and KPIs, Travel Management, Travel Policy, Traveler Friction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Turning the Open Booking Lights On

Lights Off, Lights OnGood debates require good definitions.  The polarizing phrase “Open Booking” is a case in point.  It has at least two very different meanings.

A popular interpretation of Open Booking has travelers booking outside the approved corporate channel, with no responsibility to get their booking data back to their company. This is truly “rogue” booking behavior.

Rogue bookings undermine a travel program’s ability to manage duty of care, and to collect important information in a timely manner.  The travel manager is very much in the dark about these travelers and their spend.  Call this “Open Booking, Lights Off”.

The less understood version of Open Booking comes from the principles of Managed Travel 2.0  Specifically, the one that says “Let travelers book anywhere – so long as the company gets the data quickly.”

It’s that last phrase that requires the booking be done in  such a way that the company gets timely visibility of the booking.  Call this “Open Booking, Lights On”.

Some 40-50% of corporate hotel bookings are done in the dark.  That’s a big black hole of spend and traveler location data.  This black hole isn’t being resolved by traditional means.

How is failing to address this well-known and persistent  problem not a dereliction of duty of care?

Travel managers must find a way to turn bright lights on to this problem.  It’s a question of how, not why.

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Posted in Managed Travel 2.0, Travel Management | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Airline Sourcing One-Day Workshops

Any travel buyer interested in learning the most powerful and innovative methods for sourcing airlines should attend one of my workshops:

Airline Sourcing, Nov. 14th in Chicago

Airline Sourcing, Dec. 10th in Dallas

I’ll cover the basics, but then quickly head into deeper water – where buyers will learn how to maximize their leverage, regardless of their air spend. Key topics include:

  • Scenario modeling
  • Risk-reward mapping
  • Why discount benchmarking is useless, and what’s better
  • Discovering the gap between the offered and maximum rational discount
  • Finding the 20% of your markets that will drive 80% of your savings
  • Optimizing between trip cost and trip friction
  • Predicting the impact of the AA-US merger on your 2014 air budget
  • Procurement’s best and worst roles

These workshops are open to anyone, including airline sales managers.  Register via the GBTA website.

Everyone benefits from having a sophisticated, fact-based discussion about optimizing airline discounts. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Posted in Airlines, Education, Travel Procurement | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Travel Data and Airline Sourcing Education Decks

You gotta love the 40 good folks who gave up a beautiful Sunday in San Diego to talk travel data.  I delivered a 6-hour workshop for GBTA on this topic, and am proud to report that not one person fell asleep!  Here’s the handout file we used. Topics included:

  • Sources and uses of travel data
  • Boring data reports and stupid statistics
  • Making good data-driven presentations
  • Key concepts needed for travel analyses
  • Using derivative data to answer seven key questions
  • GBTA’s KPI Resource document (as a handout; we didn’t have time to discuss it) Continue reading
Posted in Airlines, Data, Education, Metrics and KPIs | 2 Comments

I’m back in the analytics game with tClara

tClara logo

Many of you know that I sold my last company, Travel Analytics,  back in 2006.  I had a 5-year non-compete, and filled my time doing a fair amount of speaking and training, and of course writing here on whatever caught my eye in the travel industry.

Along the way I met some great guys at Diio, the aviation data intelligence firm. They know aviation data inside and out, and have an amazing group of really smart software engineers who – and this is vital – are very focused on providing great customer service.

Long story short, we’ve joined forces to offer on-demand analytics for the corporate travel industry.  Our firm is tClara, pronounced tee-CLAIR-ah, a riff on “clarity”.  You can check out our site here.

Our sweet spot is delivering customized reports in three areas: Airline category analysis, travel policy decision support, and trip friction scoring and benchmarking. Continue reading

Posted in Consultants, Data, Metrics and KPIs, Travel Procurement | Tagged , , | 10 Comments