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

You have to love the TSA……

by Tony

……if for nothing else but the pure entertainment value they provide on what seems like a weekly basis.

Last week they were forced to defend the actions of a Las Vegas TSA crew that confiscated some cupcakes.

In their defense on the TSA Blog (who knew there was such a thing but I guess if I can have a blog why not the TSA), Blogger Bob (again I’m not making that up, he’s a real guy that is part of the TSA Blogger Team), defended the cupcake confiscation citing the 3-1-1 rule that limits the amount of liquids, gels or aerosols you can bring on a plane.

Ok, I felt Blogger Bob’s explanation stretched things a bit, and despite agreeing with the passenger in this case, who suggested the TSA used “terrible logic”, I guess a rule is a rule, and I was all set to let this TSA incident slide without comment.   That was until I read that the TSA had issued an apology for strip searching a couple of granny’s at JFK.

In these cases all logic went right out the window when on separate occasions TSA agents at JFK asked two 85+ year old women to strip because they saw something unusual (turned out to be a defibrillator and a colostomy bag).  Ok, now picture yourself as the TSA agent involved in the colostomy incident.   Do you really think that agent is checking the next 88 year old woman after witnessing the first colostomy bag?  CarryingOn says “NO WAY”!  That woman is clearing the security area faster than you can say “get her out of here before anything starts leaking”.

CarryingOn thinks these stories taken together illustrate the problem with the current TSA procedures.  Going forward, what prevents the 88 year old woman from taking explosive fluids in her colostomy bag, or a coordinated team of cupcake makers from taking only a portion of the needed ingredients thereby circumventing the 3-1-1 rule, and then coalescing while onboard to create an explosive from what appeared to be the ingredients of my all-time favorite cupcake, the Yankee Doodle?

Nothing, I would argue, other than the fact that an 88 year old women and the unassuming cupcake baker have no reason to.   No one who fits their profile ever has, and nothing about them would suggest they are getting on that plane for any other reason than to get from point A to point B.    Yet the TSA continues to confiscate stuff and breach personal barriers because of some rules intended to make us feel safer.  Sounds kind of silly if you ask me, and it doesn’t make me feel any safer.   How about you?   Are you feeling safer?  If not, go get yourself a Yankee Doodle and a glass of milk.   You might not feel safer, but I guarantee you’ll at least feel better :).

January 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm 5 comments

The Daly Grind New Year’s Resolutions

by Mike

Mike Daly here.  You may note that I’m curiously absent from the 2012 Carrying On suitcase.  But I’m not going to let that stop me from blogging periodically with Tony D. Besides, there wasn’t room for both our baggage on this blog.

Last year, Tony and I put together a highly demanding list of New Year’s Resolutions. I can’t carry on from here before I circle back with my own resolutions for 2012. I never made a resolution I didn’t break — including all 14 of last year’s.  So I’m cutting back this year to 10.

  1. I pledge to keep my White Dinner Jackets clean, so I’m ready for all my travel conference receptions and all weekend soirées in the Hamptons.
  2. I will wear the same suit (white or not) 2-3 times each trip to avoid checking a bag.
  3. I will eat more salad, and will start by asking for extra lettuce on my Big Mac.
  4. On a related note, I will limit serving fast food to my family to just twelve meals a week. Unless the McRib comes back.  Then, twenty four meals per week.
  5. I’m going to finally confirm through lab testing that the only difference between the face bar and a bath bar in the hotel is the size and shape of the soap.
  6. I’m going to re-grip my golf ball retriever. Or I’m going be patient when lining up my fifth putt.
  7. I will stop sending emails to my wife when we are in the same room.
  8. I will stop tagging pictures of myself in pictures on Facebook even when I’m not in them.
  9. I won’t SPAM anyone this year.  I take that back.  I love SPAM.  I grew up eating the stuff.
  10. Now that I don’t report to Tony anymore, I will go back to calling him “Old-Timer” again.

We’ll be sending Tony off in style by way of a Bowling tourney.  I’m sure you’ll hear directly from him about that.  And as we charge ahead in to 2012, you can continue to hear my point of view (about such topics as building customer loyalty in the travel space, and the convergence of offers and online travel booking) on Rearden Commerce’s Deem Blog. And let’s connect on Twitter — my new handle is @drmstck.

Wishing you all a happy New Year!

January 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

Tony D is Carrying On

by Tony

After a 7+year run, I’ve decided to leave Rearden Commerce effective at year’s end.

It’s been a great ride….one that saw us grow from not even having a Travel application or a distributor of any kind, and when we could fit all our customers into my 1978 Cadillac, to where we stand today….over 7,000 customers, 50+ Travel Management Company Partners, processing over 14 Million transactions annually, and being a recognized, well respected brand, and leader in the space.

I was blessed to have the help of a fabulous team of co-workers, along with the support of our partners, customers, and my many industry contacts and friends, and I sincerely thank you all for helping with my success.

Never fear, CarryingOn will continue to carry on with me at the helm, backed by occasional guest bloggers—including some of those you’ve come to know and love on this blog. You might also start to hear from the Carrying On bloggers on Rearden Commerce’s Deem Blog. I want to thank my partner in almost crime Mike D, and the Rearden Marketing folks behind the scene: Brent Cohler, Alicia diVittorio, Yoni Meron, and Allison Jeannotte, for helping get it started and for giving me the inspiration to post on a regularly basis (some would call what Allison does nagging, but it’s all good and without her you might not see another post for months :) ).

I’ll be taking a short break primarily to get my bowling game back in order, but will also be looking for my next opportunity and challenge, so I’m sure I’ll see you all out there very shortly.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

Happy Holidays,

Tony D

December 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm 12 comments

Things are not always as they seem…

by Tony

I read with interest a recent article suggesting that the European Union was about to start making foreign airlines pay for their carbon emissions. The program has been widely criticized by many including the Air Transport Association, and the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airline across the globe, for many reasons as you will read in the piece.

Now putting the scientific discussion of the impact of carbon emissions aside for a moment, I don’t think anyone would disagree that air transportation is a significant driver of the world’s economy, and beyond the economic impact, has changed the world for the better. But for as much good as it does, air transportation is one of the most heavily regulated and taxed industries, and this new regulation is yet another example. EU officials admit as much and recognize that this program will ultimately cost consumers more (as much as $16US per long-haul flight, according to The New York Times), but they simply suggest the airline pass the cost of their emissions off on passengers, as they do with fuel price increases.

Now anytime CarryingOn hears the word “price increase” we get concerned, but the whole carbon emissions issue really came home for me this past week.

I was flying to MSP on Delta 2119, an 810am departure from LGA. The flight was full, the boarding typical for New York, with lots of crowding and a few “we haven’t called your group yet” boarding infractions, but was otherwise routine. Having logged a few miles in my day, I’m usually not that interested when the various in-flight announcement are made, not because they aren’t important, rather because I know most of them by heart, but on this particular day they caught my attention. Our MD88 aircraft was piloted by Captain William J. Botella, who during his normal announcements also made some very interesting comments that made me think of the EU carbon emission story I had read a few days earlier.

What Captain Botella said was the following:

The MD88 with 130 passengers, would use 2,730 gallons of fuel over the 1,200 mile trip between LGA and MSP.

By contrast, to carry 130 passengers in automobiles (assuming 2 per car, and a 20 Miles Per Gallon vehicle), would consume 3,900 gallons of fuel.

So by flying, we saved 1,170 gallons of fuel, not to mention that we all got there in 2½ hours versus the 20 hours it would have taken had we driven non-stop at 60 MPH (and that doesn’t include a few Waffle Houses stops we would inevitably make along the way).  And the good Captain didn’t even talk about any cargo that might have been onboard, cargo that otherwise would have been on trucks that burn even more fuel.

His comments got me thinking that maybe this air transportation thing isn’t so bad for carbon emissions after all, particularly when you look at it as Captain Botella suggested. Sure, you can take the position that any carbon emission is bad (and again science aside), but does anybody really think we can stop emissions altogether? The answer is no, but in this case maybe there is a different perspective we should take.  One that considers the alternative, because I don’t know about you but one thing I don’t think we need is another tax on our industry, so I’ll close by quoting the old Beatle classic Taxman, which if you don’t remember went like this:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

… and will add my own new verse to help shed some light on this one as only CarryingOn can.

If you fly today, I’ll tax the ride.

If you will not pay, you’ll have to drive.

If you drive your car, the fumes will flow,

Even more than if you flew you know.

Feel free to sing along, and maybe we all karaoke it with our favorite Congressman.

December 19, 2011 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

31 Ways to Combine Travel with Giving: The Half-Way Mark

by Becky

As we reach halfway through December, we are also halfway through my challenge to call out 31 realistic ways to combine travel (and love of travel) with charitable giving and volunteerism (love of the world around us), as I first described here. The series is playing out on Twitter — follow @BeckyOnTheRoad and search the hashtag #31travelgiving to see the ideas.

For those of you traveling to destinations in the developing world, there are countless ways to impact the community around you for better.  You can deliver clean solar lights to families in villages without electricity. Teach children in Guatemala. Wash rescued elephants in Cambodia. Don’t see your passion there? You can search the United Nations World Volunteer Web for a project that suits you at your destination.

But for many of us who are staying closer to home or not traveling any time soon, there are easier ways to make a difference. My favorites I’ve profiled so far include:

  • Donate your spare frequent flyer miles to charity. The airlines make this easy, and you can use the miles to support (usually your choice of) organizations that help get sick children and adults to the medical institutions that can provide them care. (In the case of American Airlines, you can choose to donate miles to help get wounded US military veterans home to their families, as well.) Here are the links for the major airlines in the US that have frequent flyer miles charity donation programs.
  1. Delta
  2. United & Continental
  3. American
  4. US Airways
  • Consider supporting the Air Charity Network, which uses a national network of pilots to transport financially needy patients to hospitals for treatment, using their own aircraft.
  • Like to run? Runners’ World’s Race Finder tool helps you locate races and run/walk events at a destination. Then show up to support the cause, whether it’s to visit the merchants and hear the stories of the organization the run is supporting, or to slap some sneakers on your feet and go the distance.
  • Planning a vacation for fun? Bidding For Good donates proceeds from your bid on travel packages go to support non-profit organizations.

I still have 16 days left of ideas to share on Twitter. What’s your idea for pairing travel with do-gooding for the world around you? Do tell!

Thanks, and happy holidays to everyone. May your travels be safe and your hearts be warm, wherever you are.

December 16, 2011 at 5:14 am Leave a comment

Gaining Customer Loyalty

by Mike Daly

The Holidays are in full swing, and the annual retail pilgrimage is underway. This year, several gifts on my list include travel and entertainment items, from a plane ticket for my mom to a membership in AARP. (Yes, that one’s for Tony D.)

Like many of you, where I purchase my gifts and how I pay for them will likely come down to where my loyalty lies – which in my world often means getting the most points possible to maintain my Platinum Medallion status. Case in point: A few years ago, I switched my home’s natural gas provider, because I was able to save about $100 annually.  My old provider recently started offering Delta Skymiles, so if I switched back, I’d pay $100 more per year, but in the end, earn about 5000 miles. I made the switch.  Why?  Because I’m a points hound.

But what is really interesting about that little tale is I took that offer because it was relevant, contextual, and personalized. They knew how much money I spent each year to heat my home, and also knew I was a Platinum Medallion. With that knowledge, I was offered something that I perceived had value, based on who I was, and my preferences.

Hopefully one day my holiday shopping will be that easy. Someone will know I usually fly my mom to be with me and that my friends are getting older and will soon be in need of AARP’s advocacy.  Wouldn’t it be great, if based on my buying patterns someone sent me a shopping suggestion list of the gifts that would delight my friends and family?  Erasing that headache would make me indebted. Loyalty is a powerful thing.

Tell us, Carrying On Compadres, what makes you loyal to a merchant?

December 12, 2011 at 7:27 am Leave a comment

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