Tuesday, 28 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* NDC: Why Consumer-Driven Content is King

In this blog, we'll look at why consumer-driven content is the key to driving NDC adoption, and lay out the steps needed to ensure that the promise of a truly rich and differentiated NDC content that benefits business travellers is realised.

Let’s start with the obvious: Massive investments are currently being made by all industry players to make NDC a reality. It is therefore only prudent to ensure that this capital is put to its intended use, which begins and ends with delivering content that the customer not only needs and wants, but also benefits from seeing.

So what does this rich new content look like?

To date, the enhancements being considered revolve around providing a consumer-grade user experience, access to new bundling opportunities and ancillaries, such as early boarding, preferred seating, and special meals, and adding personalized content.

These are the types of services that can be enabled through NDC, and the benefits can only be realised through industry-wide collaboration that puts consumers’ interests at the centre.

Using a test and learn approach, driven by corporate traveller feedback, ensures that the industry is building a product and capability that consumers want and can use – every step of the way.

After all, only the consumer can really certify the value of NDC-enabled content, based on its ability to address the cost, convenience, choice, and service objectives that are lacking in the current distribution model.

When the industry solves these objectives with the end traveller in mind, it will naturally result in the kind of demand that will lead to the mass adoption necessary to make NDC succeed - not only for the industry, but also (and most importantly), for the benefit of business travellers.
So, let’s assume that we now have the ability to distribute content that meets a clear and compelling need of the corporate travel community. There is still one final step to realise the potential of this industry-transforming technology standard – and that’s display.

We’ll cover modernising the way business travellers and agents consume this rich content to make an informed purchasing decision in the third and last blog in this three-part series.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions on NDC overall, and, in the meantime – remember: content will always reign supreme.

Blog written by Erik Magnuson, Vice President, Air Distribution Capabilities, CWT.
CWT is exhibiting at Business Travel Show, register for free and visit the team on stand B230 www.businesstravelshow.com

Sunday, 26 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Top Travel Risks in 2020

The two most important causes of travel risks in the year ahead? The impact of climate change and potential final year of the Trump administration. That’s according to leading travel risk intelligence company Riskline. Suzanne Sangiovese, Operations Manager - Americas at Riskline, explains further:

As we progress into the new decade, two risks in particular will underpin the most dangerous security threats this year: the ongoing effects of climate change and the potential final year of the Trump administration.

In the case of the former, it will be the mostly unseen, long-term effects that are the greater danger, as droughts, floods or fires (such as the catastrophic Australia wildfires) destroy land and livelihoods and become the catalysts for new violent conflicts and forced migration.

Meanwhile the prospect that 2020 could be the final year of the Trump presidency bodes ill for international peace. Both allies and antagonists of the United States may feel that the level of impunity they have enjoyed in foreign affairs since 2016 may be coming to an end.

Climate Change and its impact on travel

Sustainability is already proving to be the watchword for 2020 – the impact of climate change on the world is now clear to see. Climate change has led to abnormal patterns of torrential rainfall, devastating floods, severe storms, prolonged heat waves and increased temperatures – all leading to growing water scarcity, droughts and dangerous wildfires. Australia is currently fighting an unprecedented bushfire season, which has been caused by record temperatures and widespread drought.

With the increased frequency of natural disasters – such as Hurricane Dorian which caused massive destruction across the Bahamas in September 2019 – fatalities, business and travel disruptions and power and communication outages are becoming recurrent. Efforts to reverse the damage caused by climate change are insufficient as the United States, the second-largest carbon emitter, plans to withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement in 2020 if Trump wins another term in office.

A collapsing world order: US 2020, Brexit

This brings me on to the political situation in the US and the UK. The results of the 2015 Brexit referendum in the UK and the 2016 United States (US) presidential election continue to upend long-standing domestic political norms in both countries.

The long-term outcome of both events is unclear at present, but a return to the status quo is unlikely in either country - the pro-Brexit and pro-Trump coalitions that won in 2015 and 2016 have mobilised social forces that will remain on the scene for years to come.

Far-right politicians and media organisations will gain further prominence in the Western world in 2020, particularly as United States (US) President Donald Trump intensifies his campaigning for the presidential election in November. Attacks similar to the deadly March 2019 shootings at a mosque and an Islamic centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, remain possible particularly in the US, as right-wing groups gain more appeal and expand their presence in mainstream American politics.

When the UK leaves the EU, scheduled for the end of this month (January), this will lead to major economic changes in the trading bloc. At the same time, EU members will face further economic disruptions from the US-China trade war fallout as, so far, none of President Trump's Democratic rivals have promised to remove the tariffs imposed by his administration. 

Although predicting what will happen in 2020 is a fool's errand in an increasingly irrational world, a careful examination of ongoing and emerging trends provides risk professionals with crucial information for businesses planning the year ahead. 

Riskline is a leading travel risk intelligence company providing country and city risk assessments and real-time alert messaging to fulfil duty of care requirements before and during travel.

Suzanne Sangiovese, Operations Manager - Americas at Riskline, is speaking at The Business Travel Show as part of the panel session Forecasting Forum 2020 - The travel price and risk outlook for the next 12 months. Riskline is exhibiting at Stand: B708. The Business Travel Show takes place 26 – 27 February at Olympia, London. Register for your FREE visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com.

Friday, 24 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* How the rise and rise of mobile technology has transformed traveller expectations (and why you should care)

Try to imagine your life without a smartphone. For many, it’s a difficult prospect. Needless to say, the smartphone has revolutionised the way we interact with the world. Even for those who may previously have felt technology adverse, these handheld supercomputers have changed everything. Whether you’re an avid social media user, secret handheld gamer, news-hungry reader or occasional photo snapper, the ability to connect, create and interact with a few simple taps has empowered us all to do so much more on the go.

The smartphone revolution

While technically not the first smartphone, the Apple iPhone created a huge splash in 2007 when it gave consumers the ability to use a huge(!) 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen and take photos with an incredible(!) 2-megapixel camera. Now, just 12 years on the iPhone 2G is considered not just incredibly outdated, but a collector’s item, with some mint condition examples listed for upwards of £10,000 on eBay! This demonstrates how quickly the development of mobile technology has accelerated and the rate of change that all businesses are having to keep up with.

The iPhone was the first consumer-focussed smartphone success story, but its smart predecessors were much more business-oriented. Palm pilots and other stylus-enabled handhelds allowed business users to access limited corporate applications and emails on the go. But it took the explosion of smartphones in the consumer arena for the now ever-connected devices to flourish.

Consumers influencing business

Since then, it’s not just been screen sizes, processing power, storage and camera quality that have massively increased; smartphone users’ expectations have skyrocketed, as apps for every conceivable use have launched, from booking your next holiday or organising your weekly shop to turning your lights on, changing the thermostat or learning to play the guitar. And these user expectations in turn created demand for a better mobile experience in business.

Companies across all sectors have had to run to keep up, finding ways to leverage the hand-held tech to provide additional benefits to staff. Many established technology and software providers shifted focus to develop mobile versions of their offerings, and new companies sprang up to fill niche voids in the market. Today, Apple’s App store alone has an incredible 3.262 billion apps and, in 2018, over 52% of all internet traffic globally was generated through mobile devices.

The app options for business travel

The business travel industry is certainly no exception when it comes to mobile technology. Companies and their business travellers now have a vast array of mobile app choices available, offering a range of value-added benefits and efficiency gains to save money, protect travellers and improve productivity pre, during and post trip. And in line with how they interact with technology in their personal lives, business travellers now expect their smartphones to make the experience of travelling on business more straightforward.

Dedicated business travel apps cover a range of use including online booking tools, itinerary management, traveller tracking and messaging, expense management and much more. When implemented at a company level, these mobile applications often integrate with back office systems that make the entire business travel process much more efficient.

Travel Management Companies have generally followed one of two paths when considering mobile technology – either developing their own proprietary applications or partnering with tech experts in the field.

There are benefits to each approach – those with the in-house capability of developing their own solutions can enjoy the freedom to design and build their own features and user journeys… but of course this comes at a cost, and the pace of change in technology means companies that choose this path need to be prepared to invest to stay relevant and ahead of the curve.

Alternatively, working with a partner gives TMCs the chance to take advantage of best in class technology with, potentially, less risk of investment. These solutions can often be tailored, but TMCs have less input (and in many cases no input at all) into their ongoing development.

The third choice

Here at Business Travel Direct, we’ve developed a unique relationship with SAP Concur which empowers us to offer incredible technology solutions from a place of real expertise for our clients. Our investment in this relationship also brings the added benefit of being able to provide feedback that can help influence the product’s roadmap.

Our client services, support and implementation teams are uniquely SAP Concur Certified giving us the inside track on the technology to deliver the best possible results for clients. And this expertise also enables us to understand how other technology and applications can be integrated and leveraged with Concur for maximum benefit.

It’s a best of both approach that gives us a compelling offering. Working with a solution like SAP Concur also means the travel related applications available to our clients are cross-platform, device agnostic and seamlessly connected to other expense management and back office processes.

Making the right choice

For organisations considering their mobile approach, what’s paramount is selecting a technology stack with integrated apps that can offer an intuitive experience for the end user, combined with clear efficiency gains for their organisation. And that starts by choosing to work with a forward-thinking, future focussed partner who understands the technology inside and out; whether that's a TMC who has developed their own solution, or one like Business Travel Direct who has invested in a partnership approach.

The most important thing is choosing someone with the credibility, expertise and reliability to support you - both now and in the future - with sufficient investment in innovation and development that you can be confident of your solutions' continuity and relevance moving forward. The rise of the smartphone continues… businesses need to work with someone who can keep pace or risk losing out.

This blog was posted by John Pawson, Marketing Director at Business Travel Direct, who are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next month. Please register for your free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com and visit Business Travel Direct at stand B960.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Best business podcasts for on the road

Travelling for business is a necessary part of lots of people’s roles. When you’re on the road the days can sometimes be long and tiring but inevitably, often very productive.

In those windows of calm where your eyes can no longer look at your laptop, when you have hit the hotel gym for a morning workout or you’re on that long flight and need to keep your mind active, podcasts can be a brilliant tool to offer inspiration, education and entertainment.

They aren’t a new thing of course, over the last two decades the broadcast medium has evolved almost beyond recognition, with podcasts now available on most topics you could ever imagine. Business is of course a topic with so much commentary around it that it can be difficult to know where to start. So, we’ve done some of the hard work for you. Here’s Traveldoo’s round-up of some of the best business podcasts - from entrepreneurial success stories to hot social marketing solutions and inspirational leaders’ debates.

Kizzi’s Friday Game Changers
Kizzi Nkwocha is editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and host of this unique podcast series. Offering interviews with some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world, it’s proving very popular among business audiences. With a radio show format, the discussions focus on bringing new ideas to market, challenges faced by businesses and hosts many disruptive businesses leaders to offer fresh thinking.

TED Talks
Probably one of the most well-known series, TED Talks are all about sharing ideas; thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable – from AI to Zoology, and everything in between – given by the world’s leading thinkers. The collection of talks, given at TED and TEDx conferences around the globe, encompass a whole host of business-related matter and always deliver a huge dose of inspiration. 

Inside LaunchStreet
Centred around innovation, business woman Tamara Ghandour hosts top innovation leaders and every day innovators who are out there shaking things up a bit. If offers really interesting perspectives on being innovative and differentiating to get ahead in business.

HBR IdeaCast
This weekly podcast from Harvard Business Review features leading thinkers in business and management.

Dear HBR
Another gem from Harvard Business Review, Dear HBR is an advice show for workplace dilemmas. Alison Beard uses a mix of empathy, experience and humour to offer solutions to some of the challenges faced by many in the workplace. Adding expert advice to the mix Dear HBR has all the ingredients of a great business podcast to sample when travelling. 

Upping Your Elvis
We’re all affected by energy – physically, mentally and spiritually – and travelling can definitely take its toll on us in these areas. Upping Your Elvis hooks up with a series of experts to help discover a way of managing our energy.

As Told By Nomads
Featuring interviews with global nomads, Third Culture Kids, and entrepreneurs, discussions focus around what it takes to be global leaders.

The World of Business (BBC)
Showcasing content from BBC Radio 4’s In Business programme as well as Global Business from the BBC World Service, this series touches on everything from how Politics and Business are no longer friends, to India’s fashion industry and the rise of eSports.

Lead to Win - Michael Hyatt
Short-term business wins are easy, so Michael Hyatt tells us, but sustained achievement is another story. Lead to Win is designed as a weekly guide to the narrow road of lasting success.

The Tim Ferris Show
The no. 1 business podcast had to make the shortlist. The Observer and other media have dubbed him “the Oprah of audio” and with over 400 million downloads, it’s not hard to see why. Best-selling author and investor, Tim Ferris, focuses on deconstructing world-class performers from across the business-sphere.

The Tony Robbins Podcast
Life and Business strategist Tony Robbins guides listeners through proven strategies for success, designed to drive real impact in their business, relationships, health and finances. Tony hosts many deeply insightful interviews with some of the most prominent masterminds and experts on the global stage.

Marketing itself as a ‘guide to health and happiness’, Headspace is one of the best wellness programmes out there. Designed to walk listeners through the practice of meditation, it is the perfect bite-size treat when you’re on the road. Less about educating the mind and more about calming it, it’s a necessary skill to master for business travellers.

Perpetual Traffic
Produced by DigitalMarketer and hosted by Ralph Burns and Molly Pittman, the duo shares cutting-edge ideas on acquiring leads and sales for business through paid traffic. This podcast is really popular in America but covering platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn, the content is hugely relevant internationally too.

The $100 MBA Show
Another American beauty, this series offers really practical business lessons for the real world. What’s great about this one particularly is that every lesson is bite size, with a ten-minute lesson daily, it’s so great to dip in to when on the road for business.

Traveldoo will be exhibiting at this year's Business Travel Show, register for a free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com and visit them on stand B940 this February.

*GUEST BLOG* Corporate travel: what’s not to worry about?

From terrorism to traffic accidents and infectious diseases to natural disasters, there’s no shortage of potential worries on the corporate travel trail.

A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals that, “The individuals who are travelling the most have the worst depression symptoms, the worst anxiety symptoms.”

Despite this, the rise of business trips abroad shows no sign of abating. Reports from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predict that business travel spend is set to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2022. Travelport and the World Travel and Tourism Council claim that emerging markets like Azerbaijan, Qatar and Mozambique are helping to drive this spend. And India is expected to reach the global top 5 destinations by 2022 (GBTA).  

No quick fix

Don’t expect instant solutions. Travel intelligence platform Skift says, “There’s no single cure or quick fix for solving the anxiety that travellers feel, but without a serious effort from stakeholders and travellers themselves, it will only become more deeply entrenched.”

One answer may come from psychologist Michel Dugas, who wrote in the New York Times recently, “What might make human beings less anxious, is having a firmer sense of what in the world is happening and what’s likely to happen next.”

Transfer this thinking to the corporate travel sector and the obvious answer is to combine reactive emergency responses with proactive support; before, during and after assignments overseas.

This means anticipating a wide range of worries; not just carrying out pre-travel risk assessments, but also educating travelling staff about everything from preventing infectious diseases and road traffic accidents, to avoiding cultural gaffes and reacting to terrorist attacks. Not just ensuring staff know how to access local medical care, but also that their individual medical needs (and their families’) are known and met. And if the right care isn’t easily accessible - as it may not be in a remote destination - that realistic expectations are set, and contingency plans made.

Getting the communication right 

Communication is the glue when it comes to uniting these components and allaying traveller worries.

This doesn’t mean exposing employees to a 24/7 barrage of (potentially anxiety-inducing) information. Rather, it calls for selective fact-sharing via a combination of online alerts, accessible training platforms, human interaction, emergency SOS functions and more.

Within this mix, mobile connectivity can ensure that employees abroad are able to access medical and security advice and responses, wherever they are - and that they feel employers are really looking out for them.

Above all, expect anxiety at every turn: according to the GBTA, around half of corporate travellers now think that any destination could be high-risk. And be ready to mitigate the worries.

Written by Chris Knight, head of corporate services for Charles Taylor Assistance; the travel risk management and medical assistance provider. Charles Taylor Assistance and security specialists Solace Global will be exhibiting Intrinsic Assistance, the integrated medical and security risk management and assistance solution at the Business Travel Show, Stand B340. Register now for your FREE visitor pass www.businesstravelshow.com


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Data insights and how to use them

Many organisations don’t know precisely how much they spend on meetings. As they start the journey towards implementing a Strategic Meetings Management programme a good starting point is getting an idea of where meeting spend is going. If you don’t have a consolidated data view through your current supplier, consider these different sources and how they can help you fill some of the gaps.
1. General Ledger

Engagement with your Finance Team to understand what is being processed through the General Ledger is a good starting point – they should be able to provide some level of data based on supplier coding that incorporates things like hotel, leisure suppliers, restaurants and venues. It will give you a top-level view of the potential spend as well as which suppliers are being used and also identify the internal cost centres or departments spending the money.

2. Expenses data

Expenses data is another good source. As long as you consider that the average cost of a meeting is likely £200+ by focusing on expense claims above that level you can quickly get an overview of the potential spend levels, which suppliers are being used and which cost centres or departments are generating the spend.

3. Third party suppliers

Engaging with suppliers is a further option – you are likely going to have an element of your meeting spend being booked at the same hotels that staff stay in when they are travelling. Therefore, speaking to these suppliers either direct or via your TMC can help you identify the size of the pot.

4. Booker community

Last but possibly most informative is your booker community – you will already have a good idea of where these key stakeholders are in your business either through prior engagement or identified through your review of general ledger and expenses data. Engagement with this community can help you to understand if the identified spend is related to meetings and if so how, where and why you spend on external Meetings. Engaging these stakeholders early in the journey will also support you in developing a SMM that is more likely to be adopted quickly and widely across your business.

SMM is very data-driven by nature and this is the key to realising its value. However, having data is only the first step – generating data insights and how you then use them to enhance your SMM is the next step.

The first point to recognise is that meeting costs are only a small part of the picture – in fact the direct costs like venue hire, audio visual and so on, equate to only 15% of the total cost of people getting together for meetings. Therefore, when you have a meeting location, consider if it is the best value place for that meeting to take place or if you could change venue to reduce travel costs and improve productivity and wellbeing for the attendees by reducing travel time.

In the below tables we have outlined the Average Day Delegate Rate for popular meeting locations across the UK. With a great rail network creating easily accessible ‘hubs’ across the country why not consider one of the alternative destinations for your next meeting? This is just one insight that can start your SMM journey.

This blog was written by Lone Konradsen, Head of Customer Programme Optimisation at Capita Travel & Events. Want some advice on how to use your data to evolve your SMM? Why not speak to us on stand B140, register for your FREE visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com

Monday, 20 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* Turn your travel manager into a Superstar

Few companies today would question the importance of managing the health and safety of their travelling employees. While the primary responsibility must always sit at the top of an organisation, it is often less clear whose job it is to deliver the actual services needed. In many organisations it is either explicitly or implicitly assumed to be the travel department. For many travel managers this is an unwelcome chore – but it doesn’t have to be.

With a complete travel risk management solution in place, it can instead be an opportunity to enhance a travel programme and add some serious extra value in the process.

Here are four ways travel risk management can be used to improve the business travel experience and turn a travel manager into a superstar.

The Obvious
And when a large-scale incident occurs somewhere in the world, corporate management immediately needs to know if any employees are in or travelling to the affected area.  In my experience it is often travel managers who have – or are expected to have this information.

The better the tools, the better travel managers can support their organisation in a time of potential crisis.

But even outside of dramatic events, the safety and security information a good travel risk management solution can provide is often appreciated. This is particularly true when employees are being asked to travel to an unknown destination, or to a place that has recently been in the news because of negative events.

The basis for sound travel risk management is knowing your exposure: where are our people located now, and where are they going? While many Travel Management Companies offer a basic form of travel tracking based on itineraries, only a professional and dedicated travel risk management solution will capture all travellers, regardless of how they booked their tickets. A professional travel risk management tool not only has the capability to capture all bookings, but also to extract data.

Does booking out of policy mainly occur in specific countries, on specific routes, or maybe within specific departments in the company? Complete and accurate data enables travel managers to analyse travel programme compliance and track whether it is improving over time.

Being able to communicate with travellers is key in managing travel risk. Employees need the right information at the right time, and not be overwhelmed with information causing them to eventually ignore it. Therefore, alerts and messages need to be targeted.

A modern travel risk management solution should allow messaging based on a combination of geographical location, function, department, etc. Done right, you now have a trusted and appreciated channel, which travel managers can use to also provide travellers with useful information that makes it easier for them to travel – and easier for them to do so within policy.

Smooth travel is safe travel
Sometimes the ambition to save money can lead to travel arrangements that are not only uncomfortable for travellers, but even unsafe. Flights arriving late at night or early in the morning, hotels in less desirable areas or with less than adequate safety and security arrangements.

Travel managers should sit down with security and/or health and safety counterparts – or with outside consultants specialising in travel safety and security – and make sure that the company’s travel policy aligns with safety and security policies. More often than not, the result will benefit business travellers – and they will love their travel manager for it.

This blog was posted by Jens Näsström, Business Development Director at Safeture www.safeture.com. Register for your free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com and come and talk to us at stand B224. 

The Wellness Retreat is a new feature for 2020, that will help you tackle the physical and mental well-being challenges that you face in your role as a travel professional or travel manager through a series of workshops, seminars and product demonstrations. Find out more www.businesstravelshow.com/wellness-retreat