Thursday 19 December 2013

GUEST BLOG: Chasing status

I write this fresh from my North American Neo roadshow, where I met some great people and collaborated on some amazing ideas that could shape the future of T&E. But that's a different story... This story is about a personal experience - of the very impersonal kind - that has come to crystallise the modern problems facing travellers of all ages.

I was staring at my Priority AAcess boarding pass in Minneapolis airport bound for Chicago. 
"Ladies and gentlemen this is an announcement we have 155 mega premium platinum status travellers and so anyone in grades 1 through 5 will now need to check in their hand luggage. We do not have a valet so your bags will probably get crushed in the hold and you'll need to wait 45 minutes at baggage claim - even though you spent the whole week living out of a small bag to avoid this very situation... Have a nice day".

Luckily my good friend Phil was at hand to calm me down with those immortal words 'Man, we're going to have to get you status!'

So where else, other than travel, does 'priority' actually mean 'second last' and where else does chasing status affect so many?

The creation of seemingly endless grades of traveller means that Road warriors (and yes that includes Millenials) are being covertly downgraded in order to keep up the chase for this ever elusive ‘status’. Open booking is simply allowing this crazy parallel universe to spiral out of control. Without proactive policy controls how can we resist the urge to spend just a little bit more to get those points?

But most importantly how we make this situation better?

Well, Neo is a good start. Neo treats everyone with the ultimate CEO status, at least at the booking stage. You just tell Neo where you need to be and when, and then Neo does the rest, just as an executive assistant would.

What it could also do is provide status hungry road warriors with the ability to control their own destinies.

Imagine if corporates started setting trip level policy.

Neo could provide the door-to-door baseline cost for each trip (think reference fare in old school language), including automatically calculated 'on trip' expenses. As long as the business value meets that expected cost, the traveller gets the green light.

That green light could also be accompanied by a vPayment limit that is aligned with that trip budget, so there's no need for individually settled costs and the dreaded wait for cash reimbursement. The traveller can then work within their own budget and trade off flight status for hotel points, empowering travellers to be their own walking P&L and to drive both company and personal success.

Best of all - when they got back from their successful trip, they wouldn't need to complete an expense report at all...

Trust goes both ways and empowerment makes us grow.
Now get back to chasing status.
This post was written by Oliver Quayle, KDS senior vice president, products and partners. KDS is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show, 4-5 February 2014 on stand B920. Register now for free at


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