Two 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
Travel managers, you’re gonna need a two-channel booking strategy. Maybe not this year, but fairly soon in the scheme of corporate travel time.
The second shoe dropped last week, when The Company Dime broke the news (paywall, worth it) about airlines making complex trips (roughly anything not a simple one-way or round-trip) more expensive – sometimes moderately, sometimes drastically more expensive.
Reliable sources estimate these complex trips to be anywhere from 7% to 16% of a corporate account’s transactions, depending on your definition and travel patterns. Call it 10% – that’s a significant chunk of bookings that are now at risk of much higher prices.
The cost-avoiding solution is to book each individual destination within the itinerary as
Lufthansa Group announced it will charge 16 Euros for each booking made in the GDS channel.
This is a seismic event for the corporate travel industry for these reasons:
- Channel steering becomes a differentiator for legacy carriers
- GDS/TMC and GDS/airline economics will need re-shaping
- TMC/Corporate deals and service levels will need re-engineering
- The value proposition for TMCs gets murkier while their need for adding non-booking value becomes crucial
- Closing the data loop for corporate direct bookings becomes imperative
My best guess about the steady-state result? Managed Travel 2.0 will be widely enabled, if not adopted. (Kindly recall that MT 2.0 is not the same as Open Booking. The former closes the data loop between supplier-direct bookings and the corporate buyer; the latter does not – that’s called unmanaged travel.)
But much depends over the next few years on Continue reading
You travel managers have very challenging jobs. You also have two very stark career paths in front of you. Let’s start with where you’re at today:
You’re managing a complicated and ever-changing mix of problems. One hour it’s all about traveler service issues, the next it’s a rash of technology speed bumps, followed by constant demands for reporting cost savings.
You get sucked into endless supplier meetings, do your best to reconcile messy data points, and pray that the new travel policy proposal gets past the latest stakeholder review checkpoint – all while trying to stay on top of 200 e-mails a day. There’s more, but this makes the point.
A big tip of the hat, folks – you’re doing important work across a variety of disciplines, with many stakeholders ready and willing to critique your results. It’s a pretty unique job in many ways, and chances are good that you enjoy most of it.
But you need to ask what’s the future for a travel manager. What type of role will you hold in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? Will ever-more automation and ever-better analytics put your current job to pasture? Continue reading
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
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
Good 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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GBTA’s annual convention (Aug. 4-7 in San Diego) offers great opportunities to learn about the corporate travel industry, network with peers and vote on the future of GBTA.
I’m teaching this travel data workshop on Sunday, Aug. 4th from 9am to about 3pm, and this advanced airline sourcing session on Wednesday, August 7th at 11:45am. On Monday the 5th at 9am Evan Konwiser and I will present on The End and Future of Managed Travel.
Managed Travel 2.0 has come a long way since Evan and I presented the concept at GBTA’s 2012 convention. We’ll bring fresh and surprising views from Continue reading
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the dawn of modern travel management.
In 1994 Delta cut commissions to travel agents, turned travel departments into cost centers overnight, and ushered in the need for more sophisticated management of the travel category.
Our industry responded well. It developed a core set of best practices. Online booking technology and Prism’s airline contract management tool accelerated the importance of having an effective travel policy.
Consolidation of TMCs, use of procurement techniques, improved data reporting, duty of care – all these and more are now well-known hallmarks of managing a corporate travel program.
We’ve learned how to add value. The body of knowledge is solid, stable, strong. The castles of best practices have been built.
But castles have limits. They are neither mobile nor flexible. They aren’t suited for exploration and discovery. After 20 years, we need explorers willing to chart new courses, to explore new frontiers.
It’s time to search beyond the diminishing returns of Managed Travel 1.0. Continue reading
A colleague recently asked if travel suppliers will continue to offer discounts in the world of Managed Travel 2.0.
“Why would suppliers offer discounts under this open booking format? Why would they simply not let their revenue management team set prices and do away with all discounts?”
Discounts won’t go away in MT 2.0. Here’s why:
Let’s assume that suppliers would still want more than their fair (i.e., unmanaged) share of a corporate account’s business. How will they get that extra share?
Suppliers can expect to get their fair share by Continue reading