Author Archive

The CTD Conference: On the Road Again…..

I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the CTD Conference last week in San Antonio. The Conference had a number of interesting sessions covering everything from Distribution to Sustainability, and was highlighted by keynote speaker US Airways Flight Attendant Sheila Dail, who provided her firsthand account of the traumatic and heroic story of the Miracle on the Hudson. Her talk was riveting.

Fun fact: For those of you who might not know, ARC (Airline Reporting Corporation), has a special designation for companies who seek their own accreditation. This status (Corporate Travel Department) was created about 10 years ago and has now been granted to over 100 companies, many of whom gather each year at the CTD event. It’s a lively crowd.

The group had me back this year to do my annual “Technology Report.” This year, I focused my presentation on three main topics:

  1. The continuing growth of Mobile in Travel and the emergence of the Mobile “Operating System” as a future foundation for ecommerce,
  2. A review of four concepts: Loyalty, Gamification, Social Networking, and Daily Offers, and how they will make the life of a Travel Manager a whole lot more interesting, and
  3. A review of how technology innovation and new business models are having a dramatic effect on a changing T&E Supply Chain.

Based on the group’s reaction, either these concepts had them buzzing, or their phones were all on vibrate. But beyond that, I know it got them thinking — which is always my goal at these events. I heard some great post conference feedback, which got me thinking. I might run a webcast to review these concepts with our loyal followers at Carrying On, so use the comments section here to let us know if you think that would be a good idea or DM us at @Carrying_On. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn you the next time one of your travelers asks why your Travel Program doesn’t try to engage them with a Loyalty Scheme, an Offer, or an Award like they can get for killing Angry Birds. Or by leveraging the opinions of their peers, all delivered via their smart phones.

November 10, 2011 at 10:50 am 2 comments

In-Flight Diva Antics: A Traveler’s Rant

by Tony

OK, not sure if you all read the article about Whitney Houston going Diva on a Delta flight, but it caught my attention as silly things like this do. I guess she didn’t want to buckle up, which I found to be a rather strange Diva action. We’ve all been on flights where we’ve see normal people go a little Diva.  It can be little things like the guy who wants his coat hung immediately because he can’t bear to hold it for another second, the guy who refuses to share the armrest, or the Entitled boarding line crasher, who had me fired up on my recent cross-country journey.   Or how about my favorite… the dude who refuses to pull his pants up to a respectable level, and who just happens to be traveling with the girlfriend whose skirt looks more like a belt (and yes, I will admit had she been traveling alone she would not have made this list :).

They say Whitney’s sober, so maybe her Buckle Rebellion is how she gets her “living on the edge” thrills these days.  Speaking of living on the edge, our old flight attendant friend Steven Slater just burst back onto the scene.  He was sentenced to one year of probation for his Diva-like “spectacular exit” down the emergency chute, beer-in-hand, before “scampering home.” Slater became a national sensation for his behavior and a hero to downtrodden workers everywhere who have fantasized about quitting in a blaze of uhhh… glory.

What’s next?  Pilots who fall asleep?  Air traffic controllers who watch movies instead of planes? Oh right, those have already happened. I mean, come on people, let’s just get it together. Passengers, quiet down, buckle up and put on some pants.  Flight attendants, pilots and controllers, keep your eye on the ball and make sure we get where we’re going without too much drama.

I’m headed to San Antonio next week to give what I hope will be an inspiring talk on technology at the CTD Conference.   A flight attendant from the Miracle on the Hudson is keynoting at the same event, and it made me think “If that crew could keep its head on straight, can’t the rest of us?”

October 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm 2 comments

Angry Birds and Overworked Travel Managers

by Tony

These days, everyone is looking to save some dough, even more than usual – and travel managers are no exception. We wanted to pin down exactly how critical cutting spending is to these guys, so at the recent GBTA conference in Denver – while I was enjoying the delights of the Mile-High City – Rearden took to the people with a survey to get to the bottom of this. And guess what? We found that 60 percent of travel managers said trimming costs for their companies is priority Numero Uno.

The challenge for these folks, however, is what to put on the chopping block. And they’re facing a tough choice – 42 percent of those surveyed believe the best strategy is to reduce non-essential travel. But when that’s not an option, others are focused on cutting specific travel categories like meals, entertainment or ground transportation. So now we’ve got fewer business travelers taking to the golf course (or in my case, the bowling alley), more that are eating less and many who are apparently walking to their business meetings.  But we’re all still in a crunch to save.

With the pressure to make the most out of the minimal, travel managers are taking on more and more responsibilities. More than 65 percent surveyed said their roles have expanded this year; nearly 30 percent said they’re now managing other procurement categories – like shipping, office supplies or relocation; and 24 percent reported having the added responsibility of expense management. Talk about taking the romance out of travel.

“But Tony D.!,” you say. “With more work and less money, what’s a travel manager to do?!?”

I am glad you asked, as we at Carrying On love to speak our minds.  We have an answer for you – and it’s in the palm of your hand. That’s right folks – it’s time to go mobile. Mobile technology is a cost effective way to navigate the complex business of managing travel in today’s world. The most effective applications for managers will integrate with a company’s managed travel platform, make compliance with travel policies a priority, and will also serve the needs of the traveler – while curing many-a-headache for the weary travel manager!

So what’s the wait, people? Sixty-three percent of folks we surveyed believe that mobile tech would help their organizations reach their managed travel goals – like improving compliance and reducing spend. But they also said that they haven’t fully implemented mobile platforms in their organizations yet. In fact, only 25 percent of travel managers said that smart phones and travel apps were actively improving the travel functions of their organizations.  Seriously folks, let’s get on the stick. It’s time to go mobile.

Managers need to take a hard look at the tools they are already using, and consider implementing ones that allow them to take advantage of their companies’ hard earned travel rewards and discounts, while matching the personal preferences and needs of employees on the road. Smart phones are for more than just Angry Birds, they are also for Overworked Travel Managers.

This Thursday, October 6th, my colleague Song Huang and I will be leading a GBTA webinar that will help travel managers understand the many benefits of mobile technology for travel. As with anything new there is a learning curve to embracing mobile technology – but investing energy into making employees believers in mobile’s benefits will ultimately pay off big time. It’s time to wake up and smell the mojo, I mean mobile.

Hope you can join us on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. ET.

For more information on the GBTA webinar, please visit: http://www.gbta.org/usa/ProfessionalDevelopment/Pages/MobilityforBusinessTravelers.aspx

October 5, 2011 at 7:19 am Leave a comment

Good news for the miles junkies out there…

by Tony

As an admitted collector of miles (or points depending on the program), I read with interest a recent article by Randy Petersen, the Publisher of Inside Flyer magazine. Titled “Web tools for frequent flyers,” it described how venture capital is funding start-up companies whose value propositions are all about making you a more intelligent frequent flyer. Not only will the tools keep track of how many miles you have, but they will also help you determine which bonus offers are best for you, which offer delivers the best bang for the buck, and how you should plan your award usage over the years ahead.

Now, as I fly to Vegas for The Beat.Live conference, I’m reminded that I’m more a collector of miles at this point than a redeemer. And that’s not because I’m trying to get on A&E’s Hoarders (which, if you haven’t seen, is worth a look just for the shock value). Rather, my redemption tends to lag because I either don’t make the time to use my miles or I have trouble redeeming when I do want to fly for fun. Although I have to say, my daughters have discovered this new form of “free” currency and have made a nice dent in my stockpile as they jet back and forth to school or wherever, and they don’t seem to appreciate how hard I work to earn this stuff.

I’m not sure where you come out on this one, but a tool that shows me how to collect more miles and helps me use them better would be very cool. And it sounds like some people agree, including some VCs who are usually wary by nature (I’m guessing their inner “miles junkie” kicked in when they funded these start-ups). Anyway, look for a few of these to hit the radar including; MileageManager.com, UsingMiles.com, MileWise.com, and Superfly.com, because I’m guessing the frequent flyers in your travel program have already noticed.

As to why I bring it up, our industry has debated the pros and cons of frequent flyer points and their impact on a managed travel program for years, and these new entrants might prove a boon or an irritant, depending on your perspective.   Whatever you think (and maybe you didn’t think), at Carrying On we take seriously our pledge to keep you informed (and thinking), so consider yourself warned. Because I’m guessing this will grab the attention of some of your most frequent travelers who might now have a new inventory management tool of their own.

As for me, I’m all for it.  I’m not sure how these new companies plan to make money, but if they charge a small fee for their services, I figure I can use my credit card and collect some more points.

September 19, 2011 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

Hacker Fares…the dirty little secrets of the experienced flier EXPOSED!!!

by Tony

Ok, I’ll admit that the title might suggest I spend too much time on the supermarket check-out line paging through the tabloids, but I really do need to know what size Kirstie Alley is wearing from week to week, why Jennifer Aniston can’t seem to keep a man (I have a theory on that one), and why Marc Anthony went sideways on J-Lo?

But in addition to my tabloid reading this week, I came across this USA Today article by Dennis Schaal about the latest feature from meta search company Kayak.

Seems Kayak has automated the process of combining one way air fares and is trumpeting savings as a result.   While mixing two one-ways fares to get a better deal is certainly not new, it was previously reserved for the savvy traveler who “knew the rules” or for any good travel agent worth a service fee. In fact, there was a time in the not too distant past where certain combinations were considered taboo (yes, taboo like the story I read about the Octomon’s need for true love), but as the article suggests, those times … they are a changin’.

But while the search has been automated, the process itself is not without complication once the fare is found. The meta search process simply leaves you at the airline website, or in this case two airline websites, where the traveler will need to make two separate bookings. And with that, comes a level of complexity and uncertainly that would turn many off to the idea.

The article closes by suggesting that the complexity associated with this process could be managed by your friendly TMC….. “Travel agents have been offering split tickets for years. They can eliminate the risk to the traveler if one of the flights turns up unavailable, because they would merely book a different itinerary.” So score one for the TMC, but the author quickly added, “However, travel agents may not have access to all the lowest fares, because some low-cost carriers don’t participate in their reservations systems, and even when they do, those airlines may not provide all of their lowest fares to agents.”

So, today’s advice for those in the Managed Travel business is to be ready. Ready for a new wave of traveler intelligencia, armed with yet another tool designed to increase the number of times you will hear that familiar refrain you have come to know and hate “…. But I found a better airfare on the internet!”

And in case you are wondering about my theory on Aniston … I bet she’s a great golfer;)

September 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm 2 comments

Does Charlie Sheen travel with his mobile?

Intro by Tony, Content by Mike (not Mike D, Mike Uomoto, SVP Product for Rearden Commerce)

What do Charlie Sheen and Carrying On have in common? Consistency. Just as the “Wild Thing” has been relentless in his journey for constant PR attention (apparently movie stars playing baseball players even use steroids), Carrying On has similarly been persistent in pushing the discussion on the importance of mobile (in fact more than 26% of our posts highlight this topic). In case you are sick of hearing what I have to say, here is a recent posting from one of my esteemed colleagues and an authority on mobile technology, Mike Uomoto. Just click on the title below.

Ten reasons why consumer mobile apps are useless for business travelers (originally posted on Tnooz)

June 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

Justin Bieber all tatted up? I saw it on my daughter’s phone!

by Tony

Perhaps this isn’t what our Carrying On followers typically use their mobile devices for, but I had the displeasure of seeing JB’s new left hip tat on my daughter’s iPhone – likely minutes after the paparazzi snapped the pic . It’s always interesting to see what The Bieb is up to, especially when it involves little birdies, but what really caught my attention last week was two articles with rather conflicting viewpoints – both about mobile apps and travel.

First up was a Tnooz posting titled “Six out of ten mobile users now downloading travel apps.” My initial thought – perhaps those other four people are too busy downloading Talking Gina the Giraffe (a personal favorite of mine). The Tnooz story discussed a recent TripAdvisor survey that revealed what those 60% are doing – checking flight status (51%), booking and/or researching hotels (42%), and researching restaurants (52%) as the top use cases.

But then I read about a survey done by our friends at AirPlus International “Mobile tools remain an area of opportunity for travel managers.” More than half those surveyed (55% to be exact), responded that corporate travel management has no responsibility for mobile travel apps/tools.

Unlike Mike D., I don’t have an advanced degree in statistics (or a Bud Light calculator), but I am sharp enough to discern when there is a gap bigger than the one present in David Letterman’s smile. How can these corporate travel managers flat out disregard the needs and wants of their travelers? Doing so results in several organizational risks associated with travelers using unapproved apps, including but not limited to IT security threats, leakage, decreased employee productivity, and an inability to communicate with employees during a crises.

Therefore, I strongly recommend you immediately conduct a survey or your employees – find out what apps they have downloaded and how they use them when on the road. Then, as I have said many times on Carrying On, you need to get cracking. A great place to start is by watching our recent webinar, “We Heart Mobile | A practical guide for adding mobile technology to your travel program.”

If you’ve already integrated mobile into your travel program – congratulations! Go ahead and reward yourself by visiting the local tattoo parlor for a cute little hip tat to match that of The Bieb.

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our LinkedIn group.

June 7, 2011 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Tony D went to Oxford?

By Mike

His Sean Connery impersonation causes Sean Connery to believe he is hearing voices. He bowls a 220 with the grace of a soaring eagle and the panache of Liberace. No…he did not attend Oxford, but he did quote an Oxford Economics study in his latest contribution to Forbes. In my mind, Tony D. is The Most Interesting Man in the world.

Whether you are a CFO, a corporate travel manager, or just an old school road warrior, I highly recommend you checkout Tony’s latest Forbes article, Road Trip! The Case For Business Travel Despite Gas Price Spike. Once you’ve checked that one out, be sure to take a look at some other Carrying On postings that address this topic, the ROI of travel: May your travel lead to profits and The ROI of “comfortable” business travel. Just ask Dan Quayle.

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our LinkedIn group.

May 20, 2011 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

Fabio gets my armrest any day of the week

by Tony

The Wall Street Journal recently had an interesting article titled, “So Who Gets the Armrest.”  As someone who spends an excessive amount of  time in the air, I would like to chime in on this one.

When you are stuck in a row of three, the etiquette is pretty simple.  Three people and four armrests – Tony D. awards BOTH middle armrests to the poor guy in the middle seat. How can that be fair you say? Well it’s pretty simple.  Those fortunate enough to be seated in the prime aisle and window positions benefit from the Lean Factor – formally defined as the availability of extra real estate that affords one the freedom to lean outside the defined confines of his/her seat without forcing bodily contact against another human being. In the absence of the Lean Factor, the middles seat occupant deserves a break.

I know your heart sinks when that last passenger comes to take your cherished, vacant middle seat. Trust me, they are always more deflated than you. Once in a blue moon (about as frequently as the Mets make it to the World Series), there are times when you actually welcome a middle seatmate. Consider if you will, the sight of a fetching 22 year old coed (or a handsome young hunk for our lady readers), who sits down in 22E and says “do you mind if I hold on to you? I’m deathly afraid of flying.” This old man can dream, and by the way, what good is a fantasy if I don’t have a full head of luxurious flowing hair like Fabio?

Snap out of it! Let’s get back to reality. Perhaps your seat mate is a little gamey after a desperate OJ sprint through the airport in  order to catch said flight. In this case, screw Emily Post – all etiquette goes out the door.  When you know you’ll be cooped up in a flying  tube for 6 hours with a bunch of strangers, it’s your obligation to double up on the Right Guard and steer clear of the raw onions on the burger you had for lunch, pal.  Fair is fair -  once you stink up the joint, eminent domain kicks in and you immediately loses access to those middle armrests.  It’s for the good of everyone – we can‘t have you spreading your arms, allowing your lethal pit juices to waft into our already stale, recycled airstream.

Click here to join Carrying On Compadres, our new group on LinkedIn.

March 29, 2011 at 9:04 am 4 comments

Is mobile part of your travel program? Here’s how it can be.

Perhaps you were tied up :) a few weeks back during our post-Valentine’s Day We Heart Mobile Webinar. Or, were you scrambling to buy some “sorry honey, I forgot roses?” Either way, Carrying On understands, and that’s why we are giving you a link to view the recorded webinar at your convenience.

Watch the webinar for FREE (especially if you are adding mobile to your travel program our you are unsatisfied with your current mobile solution). Just click here, sit back, and enjoy some of those delicious bonbons your sweetheart gave you on Valentine’s Day.

Below are some of the nuggets that we tweeted to the masses during the webinar.  Follow us on Twitter, and you’ll never miss these great insights or TD’s next joke.

  • According to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, 74% of companies let their employees use devices other than BlackBerrys. What about yours?
  • According to PhoCusWright, business travelers want mobile checkin to their flight, hotel, rail – time flight updates is #2 @NormTravelTech hit it on the head – users want location awareness, contextual relevance and personalization
  • Make sure your mobile technology will support multiple platforms such as iPad and android
  • Involve end users in the selection process. Select a solution that people want to use and they’ll become your champions.
  • Do you want travelers searching through 350,000 mobile apps when one smart app can fulfill their travel needs? Time suck?
  • The value of mobile tech is the ability to communicate with travelers. How will you use this?
  • Finance and IT folks aren’t travelers. Be able to explain the end-to-end solution and how it fits into your program
  • Mobile apps can reduce travel fees? One area of savings – more than 40% fewer calls to TMC for certain travel department calls – Click here to read more
  • The mobile app must have the Scooby Doo factor. It must sell itself, be easy to download and use

We Heart Mobile | A practical guide for adding mobile technology to your travel program

You’ve read the stats – 75% of business travelers now carry smart phones. You’ve surveyed your travelers – they are starving for an exceptional mobile experience that makes their lives easier when on the road.

Watch this webinar and learn:

  • How do you identify the best mobile travel solution?
  • How do you navigate the potential IT and Finance hurdles in order to gain internal approval and support?
  • Most importantly, how do you ensure that your employees adopt the mobile solution you choose?

Tony D’Astolfo Rearden Commerce
Norm Rose Travel Technology Consulting, Inc.
Richard Clowes SAS
Steven Mandelbaum The Advisory Board Company

Click here to watch.

March 3, 2011 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

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