Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

I don’t want it to look like I’m picking on the TSA, but I can’t let these go without saying something….

Yesterday they missed a guy at JFK who had a stun gun in his bag (http://bit.ly/YdUSrI)

They eventually got him after his former girlfriend let the cops know he had stunned and then raped her repeatedly the night before.  Bad guy caught but not without slipping through the TSA security checkpoint while trying to escape to London.

This while TSA Chief John Pistole was in Washington saying only an act of congress would prevent small knives from being allowed onboard (http://bit.ly/ZFuDaJ).

Ok, so a stun gun is not a small knife, but I’m not sure I’d be digging it on a position at this point if I’m Mr. Pistone.

In fact, this brings to mind the great scene towards the end of the original Rambo movie “First Blood”, when Colonel Trautman says to Rambo “IT’S OVER JOHNNY.  IT’S OVER”.

richard_crenna_rambo[1]Rambo-2-lg01[1]

If only it was!!

March 15, 2013 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

The Beginning of the End of Managed Travel or Just Another Bump in the Road

by Tony

In case you haven’t seen it, I wrote an op-ed piece for Procurement.travel that might be of interest.  As the title suggests, there seems to be a lot of things going on that could re-shape managed travel, so I figured I would put pen to paper and capture some of them for posterity (truth be told, I didn’t actually pick up a pen and write anything on paper, but you know what I mean, and I think it sounds better than saying I typed something into my computer).

Enjoy, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

March 12, 2012 at 7:46 am Leave a comment

Who’s in Charge Here?

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. 

January 30, 2012 at 11:35 am 6 comments

The Old Dog Saw a Cool New Trick

by Tony

I think most of our followers know I’ve been around for a while, but what you might not know is that I started my career in Travel over 32 years ago as a Reservation Sales Representative with United Airlines at a center they had in Rockleigh, NJ (at the whopping starting salary of $6.02 per hour :)). I made it through a grueling six week training class and graduated after demonstrating my competency in quickly recalling and using the hundreds of rudimentary Apollo CRS formats I learned that allowed me to find United’s flights, sell hotels and rental cars, and generally service UA’s customers.

I recall many things from that time, such as Marketing messages like, “fly to ‘our little corner of the world’, aka Hawaii”, or “First to 50” (UA was the first and only airline to fly to all 50 states at the time). I also learned my city codes, codes I have never forgotten 32 years later. Some of those codes made perfect sense and were easy like JFK (John F Kennedy Airport in NY), but others made no sense at all and required some little tricks to help recall them, such as New Orleans, where MSY makes perfect sense only when you consider how “messy” it gets after Mardi Gras :).

So why am I taking this walk down memory lane you ask? Well, curious guy that I am, I joined a webcast recently held by Travelport where they showed their new Smart Point technology. Promoted as being able, among other things, to have the ability to translate cryptic GDS commands across systems, it dawned on me that all the time I spent painstakingly learning all those format years ago is no longer necessary. As usual it got me thinking, in this case about how much easier the world is these days based on technology innovation, because it’s pretty easy to see how a TMC will benefit from this particularly when it comes to training their staff.

So kudos to Travelport because what I saw was pretty slick (and to be fair to my other GDS friends, I’m told they have developed similar stuff).   Another example of technology innovation that makes life easier for someone, even for an old dog like me, just in case I want to put my headset back on and take a few res calls for old times’ sake.

December 9, 2011 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

Gartner Predicts Continued Consumerization of IT … CarryingOn Asks “What took them so long?”

by Tony

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.

December 5, 2011 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Hotel Peeves: A Charged iPhone or a Quiet Night? Gimme Power

by Becky

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…”)

October 7, 2011 at 6:00 am 2 comments

I haven’t gotten to the laundry in a while, and it just kind of built up

by Tony

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.

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Attention travel managers: What’s getting in your way when it comes to managing corporate travel online? http://goo.gl/tQEmf

August 21, 2011 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

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