Posts filed under ‘Travel Technology’
As a follow-up to our last post, looks like the FAA is going to take the lead on updating the rules with respect to the use of electronic devices in-flight.
Being as thorough as they are, they plan to bring together manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionic manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers, but, and this is a BIG but, they have yet to secure funding for the project.
CarryingOn therefore expects we’ll get a definitive ruling at some point in 2018, or a full year after Mariano Rivera is enshrined unanimously on the first ballot to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Actually, I’m thinking Mo will be introducing Derek Jeter to the Hall in 2019 before you’ll know for sure if you can turn on your iPad and watch the induction ceremony from 35,000 feet.
I read an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the growing trend of in-flight incidents involving people not shutting off their electronic devices. There were quite a few nuggets of information in the article including:
- most passenger misconduct cases now deal with non compliance of electronic devices (no surprises there),
-there’s no firm scientific data that having a device on will cause an issue, just that there is the potential for it to cause an issue (again not surprising),
-In a study published in 2006, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who rode 37 airline flights with a radio-frequency measuring device found emissions from cell phones that could interfere with global-positioning satellite systems (mildly interesting, and while I’m sure the Carnegie Mellon guys are smart, there’s still nothing too urgent about this factoid),
-Crews have anecdotally reported numerous issues linked to computers or devices on board, such as erroneous warnings on collision-avoidance systems, heavy static on radio frequencies and false readings on instrument landing systems, according to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ok you now have my attention, but seeing the word anecdotal probably means I’m still not that worried about some guy sneaking in a few more emails after takeoff),
-RTCA Inc., the non-profit which advises the FAA on technical issues, said in a lengthy study in 2008 that emissions from transmitting personal electronic devices, or T-PEDS, could interfere with critical aircraft systems (the evidence seems to be mounting),
-In some instances where crews caught passengers talking on a phone or using a computer, they were able to end interference by shutting down the device. Turning it back on recreated the problem, suggesting a possible link (ok now I’m really paying attention, and by the way isn’t Nasa going away soon, and if so, who will check this stuff going forward?).
Given this compilation of information, CarryingOn has a couple of recommendation for its followers. First, let’s all shut our devices off when asked, period. Unless you’re giving someone instructions on how to disarm a nuclear weapon about to detonate, that phone call or email can probably wait don’t you think? Second, if you see somebody who’s not in compliance feel free to educate them about the dangers of their playing another round of “Words with Friends”, or posting those photos of themselves eating a burrito in the airport on Facebook. Perhaps something along the lines of “hey chief (or sister, if the offender is a woman), you know there’s data that shows that having that on can interfere with the collision-avoidance systems, so why don’t you do us all a favor and shut it down. Otherwise, I’ll ring my call button and you know how that will turn out.”
If they give you the dirty look and shut it down, it’s all good. You probably didn’t want to talk with anyone who just had an airport burrito anyway :-).
Research organization Gartner, Inc. made some very interesting predictions relative to IT for 2012 and beyond. Check out the complete list of prophecies here. But what struck a chord with me was the overall tone of the report — which suggested the continuing influence of the consumer/end user, and the power that impact will have on influencing IT Managers. This pull-out gives you the gist:
“The continued trends toward consumerization and cloud computing highlight the movement of certain former IT responsibilities into the hands of others … As users take more control of the devices they will use, business managers are taking more control of the budgets IT organizations have watched shift over the last few years. As the world of IT moves forward, CIOs are finding that they must coordinate their activities in a much wider scope than they once controlled. While this might be a difficult prospect for IT departments, they must now adapt or be swept aside.”
CarryingOn has talked about this trend towards consumerization in business travel in the past, and if we extrapolate some of the predictions Gartner is making, it sounds like the days of corporate mandates could be ending. Ponder for a minute: just a couple years ago, would you have envisioned your company not only supporting multiple operating systems, but allowing employees to select which devices and applications they use at work, or to store their data in “the cloud”? (Your 2009 self would likely be confused by the “cloud” and you would also have no idea the impact that Apple would soon have on your life.) It used to be: you started at a company and they provisioned you a desktop or PC, in some cases a smart phone, and in just about 100% of the cases, provided you access to the company’s “network,” a highly guarded environment that was vetted by security, sourced by procurement, maintained by operations, and used by 100% of the employees. Today, it’s becoming an entirely different ballgame.
The New York Times recently reported on the consumerization of IT: “[Corporate IT departments] are now in retreat. Employees are bringing in the technology they use at home and demanding the IT department accommodate them. The IT department often complies.” The Times reports that Forrester Research found that 48 percent of information workers buy smartphones for work “without considering what their IT department supports.” Apparently, flexibility = productivity. So, let’s extrapolate these trends to travel.
The fact is, the Managed Travel program has always been “challenged” by the end user. In the good old days before the web, it was fairly common to hear an employee say (and many times that employee was a “C”-Level type), that they had a friend “in the business”, aka, a local Travel Agent that they had dealt with for years, and they often avoided the company mandated TMC. Today, it’s “I found a better deal on the web,” but the point is that when it came to Travel, there has always seemed to be more of a willingness to challenge the company program in some way.
Today, technology innovation has created a more informed and demanding end user whose experience in their personal life shapes their expectations at work. They proudly suggest they can find something better, because they feel only they know what they want, need, like, or all of the above. And, on some levels, they are probably right. We’ve heard of entire Travel programs where the end user is given great latitude in making decisions, and in general there seems to be a trend towards accommodation that cannot be ignored.
The trends all point to a need to re-think some of the basics of your program to ensure the decisions you are making, especially those related to the technology you put in a users hands (think online tool and mobile travel application), need to be informed by what the end user thinks is best for them. Ignore the trend and face the potential wrath of a more informed and empowered employee. Remember, Business Travel is not their end game; it’s a means to a greater end. How they do it matters. How you build your program to accommodate for that matters as well.
I don’t claim to be any more authoritative on hotel quality than any of my fellow weary business travellers, but I do know this: My number one hotel complaint is about power. Specifically, iPhone power.
It’s such a simple, easy thing, and yet my unscientific personal study of hundreds of hotels suggests that only 1 in 10 or so gets it right. Put an outlet next to the bed. Preferably at table level, close to the headboard. Not at the unseen end of a melange of lamp and clock cords that lead to a mystery spot somewhere deep behind the bed along the floor. Not on the other side of the room. Put it near my pillow, so my woefully short iPhone charger can reach it while I drift off to sleep playing Sudoku and so I can check my email first thing in the morning after I wake up to the sound of iPhone crickets on the only alarm I trust to be set correctly when I travel. This, hotels, is not hard to do.
Now, I admit, perhaps I am alone in this demand. Earlier this week USA Today reported that noise is the number one complaint from hotel guests, beating out even smelly rooms and rude staff. Crowne Plaza has snore patrols in some of its British properties now! (Good thing my Dad is prone to domestic travel only.) Sure, I’ve heard a snore or two, but man, do I love a charged iPhone.
So fess up, Carrying On readers. What’s your biggest hotel pet peeve? (And remember, if you’re the one who never hears your hotel neighbor snoring, well, consider the old joke, “My mom tells me there’s an idiot on every bus…. but I ride busses all the time and I never see one…”)
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
I am singing the praises of an outstanding book I recently read about relevance technology and the personalization of Web content searches – technology that Rearden is all about. “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You,” by Eli Pariser, is a well-balanced exploration of the ethical and sociological pros and cons of the way that consumers search today. Whether we know it or not (though for the most part we know it), with every search on Bing or purchase on Amazon, we are trading personal data – tiny bits and bytes about our preferences, behavior, and history – in exchange for convenience and the personalization of the search experience.
For proof, watch the advertisements being shown to you on the popular Web sites you frequent most. I visited KateSpade.com looking for wedding shoes recently, and ever since ads for Kate Spade goodies are following me to CNN, Facebook, and the other sites I frequent. (Works for me! I’d rather see Kate Spade offers than stuff from online dating sites and credit score providers, any day.)
With Deem and our applications like travel, we’re using relevance technology to help get users in and out of the booking experience faster, showing them the best logical fare given who they are, what policy they’re subject to, and what we know they prefer.
You don’t have to search very far to see statistics in the media about how personalization is working for marketers. Your own marketing department may be thinking about it – if not already exploring it – today.
But as consumers (like Eli Pariser points out in The Filter Bubble), companies are wise to ask good, smart, proactive questions about this stuff when talking to cloud-based software vendors. Doing so helps you understand the implications and get your head around what’s good, what’s scary, what’s thrilling, and what’s really going to move the needle on your goals.
I put some questions together for companies to ask their cloud-based software vendors, for a recent Webinar I did through GBTA. Click here to download them. We’ll ask you to trade a wee bit of data in exchange for the document, mind you. But we think the content, like personalization so often is, will be worth it.
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.
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?
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;)
Not sure if you caught this story, but it goes to show you how far people will go to collect frequent flyer points. Mint ends frequent fliers’ dollar-coin scheme: The U.S. Mint has put an end to a crafty frequent flier rewards scheme.
The scheme was started by savvy travelers back in 2008 when the U.S. Mint launched a “direct ship” program to sell and ship dollar coins directly to the general public in hopes of increasing the use of the coins.
A few frequent fliers got the idea to buy the coins with credit cards to accumulate rewards points, then deposit the coins at a bank and pay off the credit balance.
Word of the strategy spread on blogs, with at least one frequent flier claiming he bought $800,000 in coins on his credit cards to boost his rewards point total.
When the U.S. Mint got word of the scheme, the federal agency contacted anyone who bought more than 1,000 coins within 10 days, asking whether they were using the coins for general use, as the program intended. Although the scheme did not break any laws, Mint officials said they wanted to make sure people used coins as intended.
The coin guys obviously took it to the extreme, but we’ve heard many tales of frequent travelers going on one last seven-leg trip in December on their own dime to secure airline status for the next year. If you’re like me, you’ve probably pondered how you can leverage this kind of behavior into something more positive for your travel program. And as I pondered this I started to consider the topic of gamification that has been so hot lately.
What looks like a generational move towards gamification (my oldest daughter leads many virtual lives in which she has amassed a great deal of virtual currency), is in fact not that new. Hell, I started “gaming” the system at St. Michael’s School when I was in 6th grade (it involved those candy bars we used to sell to raise money and I will spare the details to protect the innocent).
When you think about it, whether planning a seven-leg journey with just the right amount of legs or miles, or buying coins to collect miles, you are in fact gaming a system, hopefully to your advantage.
Now as you probably know, we’re pretty big on the whole user-centric approach to things at RC, and we’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
How can we capture this fervor that people have to play and win a “game,” into something positive for everyone (the gamer, their company, and the service provider being gamed). I’d be interested to know if anyone has dabbled in this area and if so, how successful it was (or wasn’t as the case may be). Has anyone out there “gamified” their travel program yet? I think this might be one of those transformational opportunities, and would love to hear if anyone agrees.
Attention travel managers: What’s getting in your way when it comes to managing corporate travel online? http://goo.gl/tQEmf