Let The Voting Begin: Keynote Submissions Are In For The Beat Live

Each year, we ask readers to help us build The Beat Live.

Your feedback will determine one keynote speaker, identify the recipients of our annual Readers' Choice awards and formulate questions for the industry influencers taking the stage at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile from Oct. 18 to 20.

An array of industry pundits submitted thought-provoking pitches on what each would discuss in a keynote address at The Beat Live. Only the top vote getter lands a solo stint on stage, but five runners-up will participate in The Views panel discussion.

Below are the keynote proposals, listed alphabetically by last name. Please review each and then vote for your favorite pitch and our Readers' Choice awards here.

Making The Traveler King
Clinton Anderson
Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development
Sabre Travel Network

"Now more than ever, business travelers are demanding a consumer-grade experience along with the ability to do more from a mobile device," Anderson submits in his keynote pitch. "Thus, the customer experience while the traveler is on the road or delayed in an airport is becoming increasingly more vital to overall employee morale." Anderson argues that driving an "intuitive" traveler experience not only drives policy compliance but also creates "a natural halo effect that impacts overall traveler happiness." As such, the managed travel industry is "on the cusp of shifting away from focusing on administrative minutiae to a broader outlook on how business travelers should experience everyday travel," Anderson argues. "Does employee unhappiness and traveler friction have a direct cost to your corporation? We may not be able to answer that question now, but can you afford to wait that long?"

There Has Never Been A Better Time To Launch A Travel Startup
Nathan Bobbin
Senior Director of Product Innovation

"Some of today's largest and fastest-growing travel companies were not in existence 10 years ago—some five years ago! These new players are winning in the market based on relentless focus on addressing traveler pain and superior user experience," Bobbin writes in his keynote pitch. "This is not an anomaly but the start of a trend that will last at least the next 20 years." As Bobbin sees it, start-ups can raise capital and deploy disruptive technologies with speed and relative ease. That, he will explain in his remarks, is "helping to level the playing field between start-ups and established players in the market, and it is something everyone in the market should be paying attention to." Bobbin will explore how companies that embrace new technology are positioned to gain customer engagement and loyalty—and win as a result.

Cost Is Not King: These Four New Metrics Will Reinvent Corporate Travel
Scott Gillespie
Managing Partner

"For too long now, travel buyers have measured their success by the size of their savings," Gillespie writes. "This constant focus on cost reduction is shortsighted and does a disservice to buyers, their travelers and travel suppliers." Gillespie's keynote will examine new metrics on traveler friction and "the cost of traveler wear and tear" and will delve into the value of traveler-friendly programs. "Armed with these insights, I’ll show how the travel category should be managed using four new metrics to achieve stronger business results and much better alignment with travel suppliers." Gillespie argues the industry "is doomed to a low-value future unless we get out of the 'Cost Savings is king' rut." And so, his keynote will highlight a "practical alternative that leads to a much higher-value future."

Seven Disruptive Technologies That Will Make TMCs Dinosaurs In Four Years—Unless Agencies Self-Disrupt
Steve Glenn
Chairman and CEO
Executive Travel

Glenn promises to present on the seven "major exponential technologies that are accelerating at hyper speed." These technologies are poised to disrupt managed travel as we know it, he says. A travel management company exec himself, Glenn will discuss why corporate travel agencies face extinction unless they adapt. If they fail to disrupt themselves, he argues, others will disrupt them. "TMCs, travel managers and suppliers all face a new world of exponential change that will affect their value proposition," Glenn writes in his keynote pitch. "This presentation allows them to identify those technologies and leverage them for prosperity."

Be More Productive, But Hold The Stress, Please
Spencer Hanlon
Executive Director of Operations
AirPlus International

Seven years ago at an airport bookstore, Hanlon picked up a copy of David Allen's "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity." What followed was a red-eye flight and an epiphany. He has since rethought how he can boost productivity and diminish stress in both his personal and professional lives. "We all have the same challenges at work and in our home lives," Hanlon writes in his pitch. "We all want to be more successful and less stressed. This stuff works: It has worked for me, it has worked for my colleagues at AirPlus and it will work for those in the audience. Who would not want to have a 'Zero Inbox' at the end of the day or not be woken up in the middle of the night with five things banging around in your head which you can do nothing about at 3 a.m.?" Hanlon says his keynote will guide the way.

Safety, Security And The Sharing Economy
Eric Jongeling
Director, Hotel Solutions Group
Carlson Wagonlit Travel

"With the continued growth of Uber and Lyft, as well as Airbnb’s recent collaboration with several TMCs, the sharing economy is changing the way we travel," according to Jongeling's keynote pitch. "But this new culture also means navigating new safety and security concerns." His keynote address will assess the growth of so-called "sharing economy" providers, how to incorporate such emerging players into managed travel programs and steps to assess the potential risks of such providers.

Plastic Is Passé: Alternative Forms Of Payment Ascend
Ralph Kaiser
President and CEO

"Accepting payments in the airline industry is not one size fits all," Kaiser writes in his keynote pitch. "Credit and debit cards currently reign as the online payment of choice in most places, but this trend is quickly changing. In fact, in 2015, [alternative forms of payment] overtook credit cards with 51 percent of global e-commerce volume. And by 2017, alternative payments will account for 59 percent of all transaction methods. Limited credit card penetration and customary local payment habits, combined with tight credit and security fears of using credit cards for online payments, has increased the usage and need for AFPs on a worldwide level. With preferred payment methods varying by country and region, AFP acceptance has become vital for navigating the complex global payments market." Kaiser plans to present the ins and outs of alternative payments and discuss how and why the travel industry should adopt them.

TMCs Need A Blank Slate And A Sledgehammer—Or They Risk Irrelevancy
Jeff Klee
CEO and Co-Founder
AmTrav Corporate Travel

Klee writes: "Profits are sky-high for TMCs right now, and M&A activity is as robust as ever, with agencies acquiring and being acquired for high multiples. So it’s a pretty good time to be in the managed travel business, right? Not so fast." Klee sees the world around travel management companies changing—and TMCs slow to change with it. "While the industry is partying (and offering booking tools) like it’s 1999, an up-and-coming generation of travelers and start-ups are looking at managed travel and saying, 'Why would we need this?'" Klee's keynote address would examine "travel management services by starting not from where we are now but from a blank slate." As start-ups, suppliers and new technologies encroach on TMC services, Klee is calling for an industry reinvention to retain relevancy. "We need a sledgehammer, not a scalpel," he noted. Otherwise, TMCs will be like the "proverbial frog in boiling water." He noted that "managed travel service providers risk quietly slipping into irrelevancy—before we even become aware of what is happening."

Why TMC-Supplier Relationships Are Poisonous And What Can We Do About It
Glenn Hollister
Principal of Travel and Transportation
ZS Associates

"While there are some notable exceptions, the typical relationship between TMCs and travel suppliers tends to be one of animosity, if not outright conflict," Hollister writes in his pitch. "The structure of the travel industry makes this kind of clash likely, and the actions and attitudes of people on both sides of the relationship can certainly make it worse." With that, Hollister plans to unpack the tensions between agencies and suppliers and provide insights on what they can do to build better relationships. He will look at specific examples and include humorous anecdotes from within and outside the industry to illustrate models of successful—and not so successful—business relationships. "Attendees from the TMC or supplier communities will learn a lot about the other side and why they get treated like they do. Buyers will understand why they sometimes get trapped in disputes between suppliers and TMCs."

It’s Time We Tear Down Our Walls
Mat Orrego
Cornerstone Information Systems

"It is 2016, and, at its core, the travel industry still operates the same way that it has since the 1970s," Orrego writes in his keynote pitch. "We have seen great innovation around the periphery, and it has benefited our industry incredibly well. But time and time again, we have failed to see the same level of innovation in the core processes that drive our industry. It is time for that to change." In working with suppliers, TMCs, corporations and third-party providers in his role, Orrego has seen firsthand the frustration on all sides, as "artificial boundaries" inhibit innovation and "keep every one of us boxed in to certain functions." The industry's infrastructure limits the free flow of data, content and processes, argues Orrego. "We cannot solve our industry problems when we are closed off to one another. It is time we opened the doors to innovation. It is time for the innovation around the periphery to infiltrate the core."

The Benefits And Risks OfPersonalization And Relevant Content For Travelers
Jay Richmond
Head of Business Travel Group
Amadeus North America

"Remember when your professional travel arrangements for a business trip and personal holiday plans were separate? The line between the two is becoming blurred," Richmond notes in his keynote pitch. "Data collection and tracking have enabled a more detailed understanding of individual consumers." This has benefits, Richmond argues, including more capability for suppliers, employers and intermediaries to deliver relevant content and personalized services for travelers, such as recommendations on flights, hotels and dining based on past behavior and preferences. "However, when a person’s full travel history and data from non-travel sources that has been collected about him, including information from his professional and personal life, starts to integrate and overlap, does this come at a price? Does an individual necessarily want his employer to see what films he has viewed on a film/Netflix account over the past six months just because the individual has used this account while on a business trip?" Richmond's keynote will delve into the challenges, risks and opportunities of personalization with an eye toward balance. "Rather than sit and wait for it to happen, we need to determine how the travel industry can prepare to manage traveler information and effectively/ethically use the data that will soon be in their hands."

Is Business Class $1,000 Better Than Coach? Here’s What The Data Says
Drew Sechrist
Chief Revenue Officer

Sechrist will share insights based on real traveler-behavior data, not anecdotes or surveys, to show "which comforts business travelers actually value—and how much they value them," he writes in his pitch. Sechrist contends these insights will help guide companies to cost-efficiency and support traveler comfort. "Most business travelers don’t think in terms of trade-offs since they aren’t spending their own money. But there’s been a naturally occurring experiment running for years in the form of travel incentive programs." He says data collected by Rocketrip, which supports such programs, shows "exactly how much it takes for business travelers to switch from business class to coach, stay at a three-star instead of a four-star hotel, choose Airbnb over a hotel or rent an economy car instead of a luxury vehicle." Given the vast amount spent on business travel, he argues that "companies waste billions" and are in the dark about what travelers value. "How can a dollar amount be assigned to intangible concepts like comfort and productivity? The answer is contained in the spending decisions made by business travelers themselves."

Harmonizing Travel Technology From The Point Of Sale To The Back Office
Wade Warren
Founder and CEO
Fociss Travel Systems

Warren's keynote promises to "introduce new concepts and possibilities" as he walks attendees through "next-generation" operations and technologies for travel management. "From the point of sale to the back office and everywhere in between, we’ve always felt, at one point or another, that our services would benefit if these operational aspects could work together more intimately," Warren writes. "What if the mid-office/quality-control routine could also be applied at the agent point of sale and then also to the online booking engine? What if our agents and booking engines could finally access new content while maintaining trip integrities?" His answer lies in finding a "new level of operational efficiency." Warren's keynote will address the need to "link these disparate systems" and show the audience how to move beyond "historical technological limitations."

Vote for your favorite here, and don't forget to register for The Beat Live before our early-bird rate expires Sept. 1.