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?
Let’s agree that all our friends and colleagues who are in the midst of yet another grueling hotel RFP season should have our sympathies.
You’re dealing with big chunks of invisible hotel spend, crappy data on the visible spend, clunky RFP tools, tedious back-and-forth negotiations, last room availability promises that won’t be kept, and disgruntled hoteliers only too happy to poach your travelers with squatter rates that they’ll offer as long as it suits them. Ugh.
Oh, yes – you’re also facing one of the toughest negotiating environments in what, a decade? Ouch.
Speaking of decades, we know you’ve been putting up with this predictably stressful process year after year, for what, two or three decades? Gag.
Hang in their, friends, for the future is much brighter. I saw a glimpse of it at the Beat Live conference in D.C. last week. But fair warning…you’ll need to grit your teeth and open your minds, as it’s not an easy pill to swallow.
Two pills, really. The first is TRIPBAM; the second is dynamic pricing. Here’s how they get you out of the hotel RFP desert: Continue reading →
Disclosure: I’ve served ProcureApp as an unpaid advisor.
Procurement folks hate undiscounted spend. They’ll love ProcureApp. Why? Because it detects when a buyer (think traveler) has wandered onto a non-approved supplier’s website. When that happens, a friendly message pops up.
“Pardon me, old chap. Couldn’t help noticing that you’re on Brand.com’s site. Not really an approved supplier, are they? Tsk, tsk. Why don’t we take a nice stroll over to our approved travel site, and do our shopping and booking over there, shall we?”
Beautiful. A timely message displayed to a traveler at a critical step in the path of non-compliance. Complete with a link to the preferred site. Continue reading →
Talk to anybody who has tried to clean up corporate hotel data, and you’ll know they hate doing it. It’s a pain in the butt to take a company’s hotel booking data from its TMC, and merge it with the company’s paid hotel data from its corporate card.
The first and arguably hardest step is to normalize the hotel identities. Somehow, you have to recognize that a credit card transaction at the “Marriott Courtyard in Salt Lake” should be tied to the reservation made at the “Courtyard by Marriott in Saltlake City”.
The variation in hotel names, as captured by the travel agencies, GDSs and credit card providers, is nothing short of maddening. And we’re not Continue reading →
Travel truly is priceless. How else can you get such a clear view of places, of people? I’m back from the LACCTE travel conference in Sao Paulo with fresh understandings about managed travel in Latin America Brazil – and implications for us Norte Americanos.
Lesson Number One – don’t confuse Brazil and “Latin America”. One is a country, the other Continue reading →
Yesterday I led a full-day workshop on travel procurement at NBTA’s annual conference. We had a terrific group of about fifty folks participate. About two-thirds came from travel backgrounds, and about a third came from the procurement side. Lots of good interaction throughout the day.
We’re moving into the hotel sourcing season, so take a moment and think about your favorite little black dress or your best power suit. What makes it your favorite? And how the heck does this relate to hotel sourcing?
Great clothes project the image you want. They send signals. They help define your image. And if you’ve chosen carefully, they help achieve your goals. But they’ll only do that if your clothes fit like a glove. See where this is going? Continue reading →