5 Barriers to Business Travel’s Recovery

It’s worth thinking about what’s going to stand in the way of demand for business trips. Yes, the Covid problem is a huge barrier, but it goes beyond that. I see five related barriers that our industry will have to reckon with. Here’s the short story on my LinkedIn page: https://bit.ly/5_Barriers_to_Business_Travel New connections are welcomed.

The longer, richer read follows. Fair warning – it is a sobering assessment.

1. Virtual Work

The more that work gets done virtually, the more that virtual meetings will eliminate demand for business travel. Pre-Covid, virtual meetings were a known alternative to traveling, but a clear downgrade in terms of interpersonal impact and, frankly for some, status. Many travelers and their managers were quick to decide “It’s better if we do this meeting in person.”

Post-Covid, managers up and down the ranks are forced to use virtual collaboration tools, like ’em or not. Guess what? They work. For a lot of meetings, across a lot of use cases, and for an awful lot of people. Today, managers are building up a comfort level with virtual work, and that means trouble for travel.

If employees don’t have to go to an office to get their work done, why would they need to travel to get their work done?

Continue reading

Fresh Signs of Travel’s Recovery

No doubt you’re searching for credible signs of the travel industry’s recovery.  Well, you’ll want to bookmark this site, BCG’s TRIP, with a bunch of gold stars.

Use this no-cost site to gain clickable global, regional and country-level insights about:

  • Consumer sentiment and intent to travel
  • Recent trends in travel searches and ticketing
  • Forward travel build-ups based on searches and tickets
  • Covid case and death rate trends by country/region
  • Country-to-country travel dependencies and current search/travel indicators
  • Government restrictions and economic indicators

* The Travel Recovery Insights Portal (yes, TRIP) is designed and produced by BCG in collaboration with ARC and 3Victors. TRIP will be updated weekly with fresh data. For those not familiar with these firms, ARC is the airlines’ clearinghouse for tickets sold by U.S. travel agencies; BCG is a leading global management consulting firm, and 3Victors is a big data company specializing in GDS searches and airfares.

This site is a classic example of key industry players working together for the common good.  This complimentary site will be available indefinitely – likely until the shape and pace of the travel industry’s recovery becomes much more clear.

Δ Innovation kudos for:

  • Displaying GDS search data – talk about a leading indicator!
  • Including nights away as a metric – very helpful for the hospitality crowd
  • Country-level travel partners – quick way to gauge international travel recovery prospects

If you like TRIP ‘s information, but want more detailed data or passenger demand estimates for major markets, please contact

TravelRecoveryInsights@bcg.com

New Chapter, New Focus

It’s a tough time to say goodbye to all the great folks at ARC.  May 15th will be my last day there.

Like so many other fine firms, ARC is facing the pressures of the travel industry’s epic downturn. A special thanks to Mike Premo, Lauri Reishus, Dickie Oliver, Tom Casalino, Eric Barger, Doug Mangold,  Arun Gupta, Chuck Thackston, Ben Kean, Noah Robins, Vanny Zhang, Kristen Ebersole, Chuck Fischer, Shelly Younger, Sarah Boyd, Steve Solomon, Peter Abzug, Peter Kane, Megan Leader, John Pittman, Dan Swain, Heather Unger, Tanya Nass, Sofi Momen, Sohum Karia, Paul Barber, Brian Coleman and Rich Licato for your leadership, collegiality, insights and commitment to serving ARC’s customers. I am very grateful for the time I spent working with so many good people, and surely wish all of you well in your efforts to re-position ARC for the years ahead.

So what’s next?  It’s hard to imagine a bigger question than the one surrounding the travel industry’s recovery. There will be massive changes ahead, and that means plenty of opportunities for innovation.

This blog will focus  initially on the innovations and adaptations meant to bring about the travel industry’s recovery.  I’m curious to see what comes to market, and impatient to see what works.  If you’d like to share something along these lines, I’ll be at scott@tclara.com

NB: This blog’s title had been Gillespie’s Guide to Travel + Procurement. This blog has all of the prior posts, but the page menu has changed to reflect the new focus.

Lower Costs and Successful Trips Matter Most

“Which of these four travel-related goals is most important to your senior management?”

The answer?  Lower travel costs is the most important goal, while more successful trips came in a very close second, according to the survey tClara just ran.

If you group the three non-cost goals into something like “Travel Impact Goals”, you see that this group gets a total of 58% of the top goal choices.  So while lower costs may have squeaked out a first-place finish, I’d say that cost takes a back seat to business impact.

I’ll go further by wondering how many travel buyers really, truly know their senior management’s top travel-related goal. Continue reading

2-Minute Survey: Travel Program Priorities

Folks, here’s a super-quick 3-question survey about travel program priorities.

Travel Program Priorities Survey 

If you are a travel buyer, please weigh in…it will take less than 2 minutes, and you’ll shed some important light on this issue. 3 questions, 2 minutes – it’s easy!

This is an anonymous survey – you couldn’t leave your name even if you wanted to. It’s also unscientific, but I think the results will still be very interesting.

If you’re not  a buyer, you probably know a bunch of these fine folks, so feel free to forward this to them. (That’s also meant to be a nice way of asking you non-travel buyers to not take the survey).

I’ll share the results here on this blog, and on stage at the Business Travel Intelligence Summit on May 22nd in New York. If you haven’t heard of this one-day deep dive into the real value of travel data, have a look at the agenda here.   It’s the first event I’ve seen designed specifically to discuss travel data, and it already has over 100 buyers registered to attend.

I hope to see many of you there!

 

Webinar: Building the Case for Better Travel

Wow.  This article that challenges the importance of savings is one of the most popular ones I’ve ever written.

Still, the question is can you really afford to focus on the benefits of travel, rather than on the cost?

The good folks at Prime Services and I will show how build a business case for better travel using my Travel Policy Impact model. We’ll walk through the data you need and the assumptions you have to make, and show the ROI as we go.

You’ll see how easy it is to estimate the costs, and how to make reasonable assumptions about the benefits.  Travel Policy Impact 101, here we come!

The webinar starts at 1:30 pm EDT on Thursday, March 15th.  You can register for your free seat here. I hope you’ll join us.

Prime Services is a division of Prime Numbers Technology.  Kate Saab and Robin Carter will co-host this session with me. You can download the Travel Policy Impact model and the User’s Guide from within this post.

Making the Business Case for Better Travel

The most common question I get after speaking about the benefits of reducing traveler friction is “OK, we get the idea, but how are we supposed to sell this to senior management?”

Here’s the answer:

The whole idea is to balance the costs and the benefits of better business travel, right?  So that means we need a way to quantify those things, in a way that makes sense to senior management.

The good news is that there is now enough research out there to help us frame the question with some clear logic and pretty good assumptions.

Gillespie’s Travel Policy Impact Model

I’ve developed a simple – and free – approach that any travel buyer can put to work right away. It’s an Excel model (see below) that asks you to fill in 16 things.  Do that, and you’ll see the results. Your results could look like this:

“If we spend an extra $35K per road warrior to give them better quality, lower-friction trips, we’ll get back a net gain of $90K each, for an ROI of about 260%”

Credibility Is Key

Travel managers,  you’ll be able to plug 10 of the 16 data things into the Cost section pretty much off the top of your heads.  You’ll probably need help with the 6 things in the Benefits section. Continue reading

A Challenge To My Travel Procurement Friends

 Is it time to think about your category goals for 2018?  Yep.

Are you hoping to somehow increase the size of your savings next year?  Of course.   Are you optimistic about meeting that goal?  Probably not.

Would you like to show senior management that you’re adding significant strategic value to the travel category? That your approach is fundamentally aligned with the needs of the business?  Therein lies my challenge.

For the last 20 years, travel procurement has measured its success by the size of its savings. Travel procurement takes the path of least resistance, happy to measure what’s easiest – ticket prices, room rates, TMC transaction fees, and the all-important discount.

This traditional cost-focused goal is no longer sufficient.  It’s not strategic, and it isn’t sustainable. Travel procurement needs a bigger, bolder goal.

Step 1: Understand The Cost of Traveler Friction

Continue reading

A Big Win No One Is Talking About

http://www.sweetthreadsdesign.com/blog/welcome-home-front-door-spring-decorTwo years ago I wrote that travel managers face two paths.

One path is to keep doing what you do today: jumping through endless supplier meetings, putting out fires around traveler service issues, continually hacking away towards inbox zero… In short, doing all those things that add short-term tactical value.

The other path leads to adding higher, more strategic value by focusing on travel’s broader business impact. I’ll preach about taking this path at GBTA in Boston on July 17th.

One area along this path that I think is rife with opportunity is non-employee travel. Think recruiting trips for on-site interviews, new-hire training, or guest visits such as speakers, partners, or customers.

Most all the current corporate travel tools and systems were built for current employees. If you worry that your own travelers don’t enjoy that experience, how do you think your non-employee travelers feel? Continue reading

Let’s Buy Less Effective Trips!

Travel Programs Insights cover pageSaid no one, ever.

Imagine giving management a choice between these two travel programs: “Nickels and Dimes” and “Goldmine”.

In the Nickels and Dimes program, they get travelers who are more burned out, more likely to quit, have less productivity, report higher rates of sickness, are less willing to travel, and for the kicker, produce 22% less effective trips.

In the Goldmine program, they get the opposite – happier, healthier, more productive travelers who are more willing to travel and – pay attention – produce more effective trips.

Of course the Goldmine program is going to be more expensive.  Just like an iPhone is more expensive than a cheap flip phone…you get what you pay for.

And yet travel managers Continue reading