Who’s in Charge Here?

January 30, 2012 at 11:35 am 6 comments

Who’s in Charge Here?

by Tony

I had the pleasure of speaking at two separate travel industry events a couple of weeks ago, the CWBTA January Chapter meeting, and the Wisconsin BTA’s annual Education Day (my thanks again to both organizations for extending an invitation).   I did the same presentation at both, something I pulled together and titled, “Travel Management Out of the Box, How Technology Could Impact Your Travel Program.”   The presentation covered a lot of ground but the main theme was that technology will continue to evolve and have a greater and greater influence over people’s behavior, eventually impacting the travel program (hence the catchy presentation title :-)).

In one section I started by posing what sounded like a rather odd question to the buyers in the audience when I asked, “how many people line up outside your office to get the next iteration of your company’s travel policy?”.   Both audiences laughed which was expected, but I followed by asking a question designed to get them thinking when I said  “but how many of those same people will line up outside a BestBuy or Apple store at midnight in the rain and cold, waiting to get the latest iPhone, Tablet, or Game Console?”.   I went on to make the point that great technology can change people’s behavior whether it’s a device, app, or even a web property like Google or Amazon.

I also talked about the need for the managed travel program to address two masters;  the traditional “boss” whether a VP of Procurement, CFO, of Travel Manager who has historically been responsible for watching over the company’s investment in T&E expenses, and the second, a new and potentially more influential master, the person who can spend up to 200 days a year on the road consuming that same travel program.

With that as the backdrop, I read with interest a couple of recent articles in The Beat, the first by Scott Gillespie where he talked about a potential Travel Policy crisis where Travelers reject corporate tools for consumer tools that are faster, easier and more respectful.  Scott went so far as to question why a travel policy might be needed in the first place.   The second piece was a follow-up to Scott’s piece by Alan Tyson the CEO of DataBasics, where Alan recognized Scott’s point, and sighted the 7 Deadly Sins of the traditional Travel Policy.  

Obviously I think the guys are both on to something.   And, I think my presentation hit more than one nerve of corporate managed travel that I think it’s time to address.   Anyone listening?   Better  yet, anybody doing anything about it?  Are your travelers starting to influence your travel program, and if so, how?   Drop a line and let us know. 

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

You have to love the TSA…… The Beginning of the End of Managed Travel or Just Another Bump in the Road

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Audra JB Kruk  |  January 30, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Actually yes, I am. Just this morning I mentioned to my boss that we should look into a corporate card that has specific Airline and Hotel points associated to it. If we mandate the use of a travel card and they are not staying at our preferred hotels due to points, then why not try and meet them half way? Am I foolish to look at it this way? Here is another example- Amex has a card that allows for multiple airline clubs, the cost is $400 per year, we allow for 1 Airline club at $350 a year for folks who travel 12 times or more- so what is the difference? I told a guy in our Boston Office ( with Canada territory) to get the card and have him tell me what he thinks. I also told him to get Nexus… Is there a better way to meet in the middle?

    Reply
    • 2. carryingonblog  |  January 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Audra,

      I definetely think tests like this are valid and worth pursuing. For $50 in cost to the company the employee reaps a benefit (access to multiple clubs), which in turn will yield a benefit to the company in the form of increased productivity for that employee while on the road, not to mention the halo effect of being provided enhanced club access, which in turn could positively impact adherence to the travel policy. How could that be you ask? In your current environment, travelers are granted access to one club, which I’m thinking will impact which airline they want to fly. Some years ago, I worked under the very same type of policy and I was absolutely influenced by the club access to the point where I would go slightly out of my way to fly that carrier, and since my travel policy had a “spend allowance” (in our case I could go out of policy provided I was not spending more than $75 extra), I often did. I converted to a $400 card (company reimbursed) that gave me access to multiple clubs and guess what, I was not as hesitant to take the lowest logical fare if it was on a carrier I had “perks” with, and since I had more to choose from, I complied and took the lowest fare more often.

      I’m guessing your folks are no different but just the fact that you are thinking this way makes all the sense in the world if you ask me.

      TD

      Reply
  • 3. Brad Seitz  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Tony, when will the technology start to catch up with the delivery of the services? Apple is a great example of how they re-thought not only how we listen to music, but they made the connection that the technology like an ipod is nothing unless it has the seamless itunes to get us the music we want. In our travel space, the travel experience is so painful, it makes me wonder who will rethink travel and couple it with technology (and if you want to throw in how to create value for the corporations that pays it?) No doubt we both agree that this is sure to be a fun ride, watching as changes impact our industry and most likely making what we all do today obsolete.

    Reply
    • 4. carryingonblog  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      Brad,

      Yes, in my presentation I make this point and suggest that companies like Apple and Google who have fiercely loyal supporters could easily disrupt a managed program via whatever suggestion they might eventually make. Interesting times indeed.

      TD

      Reply
  • 5. Jose  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Tony,

    I just sat through a demo of the Short’s travel system that was featured on the beat, and also tries to address some of the concerns you bring up here. Have you looked at their solution and if so, do you have any thoughts?

    Reply
    • 6. carryingonblog  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Jose,

      I haven’t gotten a closer look beyond what they have shared publicly, but from what I can gather they seem to be taking the approach of not fighting the end user who thinks they can find something better on the web. In my past reviews of online sites, there are times when things are not exactly as they appear to be when you move beyond the search and try to book (this is particularly true of the meta search tools). I don’t know if that will be present an issue for Shorts, but their approach is an interesting one that I will continue to track.

      TD

      Reply

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