Travel Needs More Innovation

Two observations really drove this point home for me last week.  The first came from Marc Hochman, a partner at A.T. Kearney with deep expertise in the procurement arena.

Marc cited Kearney’s Assessment of Excellence in Procurement study of nearly 300 global firms (average US$10 Billion, revenues). It showed that CEOs have much higher expectations of getting innovation and growth projects  from procurement than they are getting today.

It also showed that nearly 80% of the  study’s leading companies are already using metrics for measuring procurement’s innovation, compared with about 20% of the lagging companies.  So innovation is clearly important within procurement.

The second “aha!” moment came courtesy of Business Travel News and its annual list of the 25 Most Influential Executives in the Business Travel Industry Industry.  Of the 25 people listed, only three struck me as named for their innovative efforts.

Debbie Dayton at Deutsche Bank, Susan Lichtenstein at Cisco and Bram Graber at KLM-Air France all get kudos for successfully implementing new and meaningful business practices.

The rest of the Top 25 were named mainly for their powerful ( and mostly positive) influences on their parts of the travel industry.  Achievements fell under the headings of mergers, acquisitions and alliances for the  ten suppliers, and for promoting industry rules, regulations and standards by the twelve (12!) government and trade association executives.

What’s starkly missing from this list?  New travel procurement technology! Too narrow?  OK, how about new travel technology – of any kind??

Folks, travel is a really big industry.  It’s far from frictionless – lots of opportunities exist for improving the way we source, transact, record and analyze our travel.  That there were no technology leaders named to this list is – well, you pick the right word: baffling, frustrating, sad…”good” is not an option.

Enough whining.  On to solutions.  You, Respected Reader, need to identify a problem you see somewhere in the travel category.  The messier and more pervasive, the better.  Grab a supplier by the neck, stick your two noses into the roots of the problem, and get excited about solving it.

Good luck! I hope we’ll soon be reading your names on BTN’s list of Top 25 Executives!

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4 Responses to Travel Needs More Innovation

  1. Rob Wald says:

    Just thinking aloud here but perhaps one way of spurring ideas is to think about the emerging platforms as a means to an end. For example, the iPhone. Why isn’t someone thinking about the iPhone and its location based services as a means to “track” all employees in the event of a crisis. This can’t be the first time someone has thought about this…however, I checked Google and something did not immediately pop up…mainly consumer “finder” services.

    • el kaim william says:

      @Rob Already exist from different suppliers through SMS. No need for an iphone, that’s may be why you did not find them. In some countries, like Germany, user privacy can prevent for a company to access that kind of information.

  2. Pingback: Supply Excellence — Travel Needs More Innovation

  3. el kaim william says:

    I totally agree …

    But please keep in mind that Innovation made inside is not always visible outside. So, if you consider innovation through the glass of PR, you will be disappointed (they will always try to tell you a story).

    you also need to make the disctinction between business travel and leisure. In leisure, the traveler is king (or should be), in business travel, the company is king and decide how well their traveller should be treated. That’s a big difference!

    From the technical side, innovation can be often found on INFOQ web site. You can find video on how Orbitz uses Web Services and I described how we began to put in place SOA at CWT for some part of our products.

    You also have to make the difference between disruptive innovation (WOW effect) from the continuous innovation.

    On the business model, web 2.0 was a big game changer. Disruptions is visible. Innovation also.

    Travel world, as you already mention, lacks innovation in creating OPEN standard REALLY USABLE (I mean implemented fully by GDS, OTA, OBT, etc.). Divide and conquier algorithm is still the rule.
    3 GDS captures 50% of the travel transactions (more or less), and the rest is unmanaged.

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