Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
‘SIMPLEXITY’ IS THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE TRAVEL booking and distribution, according to Amadeus vice-president Albert Pozo. He was speaking at the tech giant’s Corporate Travel Network event, at its French development HQ in Sophia Antipolis, the vast business park in the hills above Nice.
Pozo defined simplexity as managing the ever-more complex processes of integrating data streams with powerful search algorithms and personalised user profiles into the booking flow, while keeping things simple on the front end, both for traveller and travel buyer. “It’s about connecting the dots,” he said – adding that part of this is using technology to allow two-way communication, using feedback and user reviews to inform the travel programme and to be a factor in procurement.
Positive outlookAmadeus showcased some of its latest initiatives, including a search and booking tool integration with the Microsoft Outlook calendar: when a user accepts or creates an event in Outlook, the system immediately displays bookable travel options, with pre-filled search details, linked to the booker’s profile of history, preferences and company policy. Once a booking is made, the calendar is automatically updated with itinerary details, including allowing time for airport journeys and check-in. Itineraries can be shared with meeting participants. Amadeus will start pilot-testing the system in December this year.
Pozo said: “It’s a completely different way of approaching travel, because you don’t start with the booking – you start the process in your diary. You start with the idea of a meeting and social collaboration – who is going there and why?
“You get into the travel programme from planning your meeting in Outlook. And it’s integrated with your company policy.”
Amadeus also showcased its integration of ‘business intelligence’ (BI) into the travel booking process – this curates results based on algorithms that use traveller and community booking histories and preferences – and corporate policies. The Amadeus smart-search system does the ‘heavy lifting’ for travel bookers by learning about individual and peer booking profiles, and tailors both process and results accordingly. The system allows the travel buyer to configure how results are weighted towards price and convenience criteria.
Pozo said: “If you want to enhance adoption and stickiness to your programme, you need to be able to define how results are represented to traveller.”
Tech addiction Meanwhile Google’s head of media outreach advised delegates to break their tech addictions. Daniel Sieberg, TV correspondent and author of The Digital Diet, described himself as a digital native with impeccable geek credentials – but urged delegates to wean themselves off their addiction to smartphones and connectivity for the sake of their physical and mental well-being – and their productivity.
Sieberg said that being an early adopter and advocate of all forms of social media and connectivity, meant he found important occasions for family and friends were passing him by. “I was good at broadcasting, but disconnected from key events,” he said.
He cited research showing that the human brain is only able to work effectively on one or two things at the same time, and that employees lose, on average, 2.1 hours a day to distractions. “We don’t function as well as we think we do,” said Sieberg. “Monotasking adds to your company’s bottom line.”
He illustrated his presentation with shocking headlines including two family members dying while attempting to retrieve a smartphone from a cesspit, and photos vividly showing the social misery of everyone glued to their phone screens during gatherings.
Sieberg recommended policies such as device-free meetings and no company emails after 6pm. And he warned against undermining face-to-face interractions by always having your smartphone on the table. He recalled a young entrepreneur meeting a senior director to discuss a $1 million start-up loan, who was constantly making and receiving communications throughout the meeting – assuming it would put him in a favourable light as a “committed, 24-7 switched-on guy”. Not surprisingly the director was unimpressed and the loan not forthcoming.
Sieberg also noted the trend for ‘sequential usage multiscreening’ – when a task such as booking travel is started on one device, such as a smartphone, and then resumed and completed later on another device, often a desktop computer. This trend is driving the advances in single sign-on technology for booking systems, he said.
Bespoke policyDelegates discussed the evolution of travel policy, with several speakers raising the point that an effective travel policy should recognise different roles within an organisation. HRG director Paul Dear said policy should “drill down to individuals”. He said advanced bookings and restricted fares work well in some roles, but not, for example, in sales where people regularly have to cancel and rebook trips. “In the next five years, behaviour will drive travel policy,” he said.