Tuesday 29 October 2013

GUEST BLOG: Failure rebranded as innovation?

You may have seen Amon Cohen’s recent interview with Dean Forbes in which Dean discussed Managed Travel 2.0 and went on to describe this concept as “failure dressed up as innovation”.

When the idea of Managed Travel 2.0 burst onto the scene it was a fresh approach to a long standing problem: how can we stop maverick travellers booking outside of process and prevent leakage from T&E programmes? Scott Gillespie led the charge promoting the travel innovations he'd like to see and in early 2013 KDS launched Flex T&E as a point of sale solution to this problem. At that time I said it would probably be an 80:20 solution with 20 per cent of corporates going down that route, however, the results have actually been more 95:5 and I believe this is because many people have taken their eyes off the real problem.
Initially we had thought that the emergence of ‘millennials’ onto the scene had driven the urgency to find a new type of solution, as these digital natives are far less forgiving of bad technology. However, the last year has shown us that this is not a generational thing - it's a ‘bad user experience’ thing!

People of all ages leave the corporate process when they can't find what they want. This may be because of poor content (the right content poorly displayed or the right content at the wrong price) or if they have to spend an unreasonable amount of time/effort using the tool (performance and usability).

Put another way - the whole leakage/maverick/millennial problem stems from a failure of tools and processes. When tools, policy and process are at odds with traveller experience, the result will inevitably be leakage and maverick behaviour. Tools and policy driven too aggressively by cost savings sometimes contradicted themselves (we've all flown a cheap flight but ended up spending more on ground transport or seen a cheaper flight than the one listed in our corporate tool) which further 'justifies' the maverick's stance.
Some providers jumped on this as an opportunity to 'not' address their core issue, which was a terrible user experience and lousy content. However, not even millions in marketing budgets can convince the industry that ‘open booking’ is anything more than a rebranding exercise (failure = innovation). Sceptics might even say it's an opportunistic way of bypassing both the TMC and GDS. At KDS we recognise the importance of the ecosystem and believe we all have a role to play both now and in the future.

Allowing people to effectively bypass process and tools using only an 'open booking' solution simply pushes the problem back to the user. They have to spend more time on many different sites for the search and book process. They then have to spend even longer manually entering this into expense systems - two steps backwards!

The simple answer to the problem is a great user experience with complete content. Sound familiar? It should do - because that's what we've attempted to solve with KDS NeoWe have found that Neo is delivering the right results by addressing the core issue and solving the root cause of the problem - fast and simple door-to-door bookings with the best choice of content. Users of all ages are responding to this in the way we hoped – by booking online with the right tool and embedded policy and process. Indeed both hotel attachment and user adoption are up in the customers who have deployed Neo so far.

There is still a place for 'open booking', specifically where there is no TMC in place or if the customer is not using truly innovative solutions like KDS Neo - but it remains on the peripheries rather than on centre stage.

This post was written by Oliver Quayle, KDS Senior VP Products and Partners. For further information on KDS please visit www.kds.com.

Tuesday 22 October 2013


There’s no doubt the industry has seen a significant increase in awareness  – and understanding – of the serviced apartment model in recent years, but what more could operators be doing to make themselves appealing to business travellers and to capture its share of the accommodation budget?

Marlin Apartments
 According to this year’s Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report from The Apartment Service, demand for serviced apartments is outstripping supply in many territories. This is due, in part, to the greater adoption of serviced apartments in travel policies, but also to more apartment operators taking short-stay (less than one week) business away from hotels.

But the report also claims that the serviced apartment sector still has a very long way to go and that its shortfalls are, in fact, self-inflicted. How?
  • Varying terminology between territories (serviced apartment in the UK, corporate housing in the US, etc)
  • Varying consistency of the product 
  • Lack of synergy between the product and the GDS distribution channels used by TMCs
  • Lack of recognised ratings system
Dolphin Square

So what’s the answer? According to TAS, the key to driving an even greater understanding of serviced apartments is through greater standardisation and the introduction and adoption of an industry-wide code of conduct for operators.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before these steps are taken and the serviced apartment sector can take another well-deserved leap forward in being accepted by corporate travellers and managers.

This post was written by David Chapple, who is event director of the Business Travel Show, which takes place 4-5 February 2013. Buyers can visit the ASAP (Association of Serviced Apartment Providers) Pavilion at the show, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014. 

Friday 11 October 2013

GUEST BLOG: The shortest business class trip ever

I distinctly remember the first time I visited the Business Travel Show – it opened up a whole world I never knew about as a starter in the industry and I still have friends today that I met on that first visit at the exhibition’s old home in Angel, Islington. 

But it is the first time I decided to invest in exhibiting which I recall the most. As Sales & Marketing Director at Statesman Travel it was a difficult job to persuade the MD to invest in a space, stand, time and resources to get the most out of the show. But it was worth every penny as we showcased our services for the first time publicly to the market.  

I recall one client who was considering our services visited our booth and, to this day, I think the sight of us at the event added weight to our bid as a credible company. We won the account, of course. But it was when all the hard work was over that I experienced my most memorable BT Show experience. 

We had neglected to book any transportation for our booth post event, so I bribed a team from another airline booth to throw our stuff in the back and give us a lift across London.  We sat buckled up in the back of a truck in a set of brand new transatlantic business class seats for the five mile trip across the capital. Mission complete, at a competitive price too, and surely I must hold the record for the shortest business class trip ever?

This post was written by Paul Tilstone, SVP Global OperationsGlobal Business Travel Association.

Monday 7 October 2013


It’s been a while since we blogged about NDC – five months in fact – and, in that time, this most controversial of business travel issues has continued to dominate headlines. It also came up again and again at the GBTA Europe Conference last week. And it was there that I had an idea.

There has been a lot of negative comment about NDC, but I think it’s safe to say the industry agrees that the price transparency NDC provides is a positive thing for everyone: the airlines, the buyer and the traveller. By displaying everything from the basic fare, to the extras such as baggage fees, extra legroom costs and taxes, buyers and consumers can compare like for like for the first time when booking flights and airlines can compete fairly. 

And this made me wonder. Does NDC have the potential to help travel managers drive and increase compliance while also keeping their travellers happy? Can it be both a carrot and a stick?

For example, if all airlines displayed a de-ancillaried price on NDC, TMCs could then negotiate any ancillary costs directly, and the choice of those ancillaries – up to the value of, say, five per cent of the air fare – could be left up to the traveller. So the traveller could decide if they prefer extra leg room, priority boarding or lounge access, for example, and this element of choice would help to make them feel like they were valued and had some element of control, while, in fact, they were being gently coerced into complying with policy. And a compliant traveller is every travel manager’s Holy Grail, right?.

By David Chapple

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show, which takes place 4-5 February 2014 in London. Find out more at www.businesstravelshow.com. Comment on this blog below, or contact David on Twitter @btshowlondon