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 industry executives taking the stage at the Dallas-area Omni Frisco Hotel Oct. 2-4.
An array of industry pundits submitted 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 a few 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.
Frontline Business Travel Counselors: Maintaining A Healthy And Prosperous Work/Life Balance
Specialized Travel Counselor
The World Bank/American Express Global Business Travel
With more than 30 years' experience on the industry's front lines as a travel agent and counselor, Angell's keynote will share the agent's point of view: "I talk to many counselors while working and rarely find one that feels the company they work for understands their challenges, whether working virtual or in an office," she writes. Angell's interactive address promises not to revert to a "dump-on-the-employer gripe session" but rather to illuminate the challenges and concerns of the frontline counselors. "There are many questionable practices being implemented among this work group that need to be addressed and stopped. Whenever I attend a corporate function, I see leader after leader say the frontline is their most valuable asset. However, without a forum such as this to raise the travel counselor's concerns and professionalism, I doubt others will choose to work in this field going forward."
Data Will Improve The Traveler Experience__And Your Bottom Line
CEO & Co-founder
"The travel experience is broken," Bernstein writes. Yet, he doesn't blame suppliers, distributors or agencies. "It's broken because travelers don't have the information they need to make informed decisions and don't have the tools they need to take control when it matters." Bernstein's address will look at the rising expectations of end users__"whether we're calling a ride (disrupted by Uber), trying on new shoes (disrupted by Zappos) or buying home supplies (disrupted by Amazon). We demand real-time data in everything we do. Why should business travel be any different?" He will address how better access to information and more fulsome self-service tools "will profoundly transform managed travel over the next decade, just like OBTs transformed the industry 15 years ago. This time around, business travelers, travel managers, TMCs and suppliers all stand to benefit. There is enough inefficiency in the system today so that small improvements in traveler experience can produce significant windfalls in the form of cost savings and new revenue."
The Future And Invisibility Of Business Travel Payment
"The future of payments will become invisible, and individual expense reports will become more automated because of it," Diemer predicts. He proposes a keynote that will explore the evolution of digital payments and how, along with collaboration among industry participants, pain points are eased, payments are simplified and end-to-end automation rules the day. "New options in electronic and virtual payment will transform the work of travel management. Imagine paying for airport parking without ever having to take a parking ticket or wait in line to pay upon exiting the lot. Or what about how you pay at a restaurant? What if you paid the bill with your smartphone without having to wait for the server to bring you your check and then return with a credit card slip? Finally, imagine a booking and payment process that requires only three clicks to complete everything from booking to paying for an entire business trip. Future payment technologies are progressing in this direction, and this new vision will be infused with all business travel expenses."
The Race To A Single Platform: Amex Buys KDS; Will Concur Or Deem Buy A TMC?
AmTrav Corporate Travel
"Concur discovered early on that travel and expense were a logical match," Fichtelberg writes. Yet, corporate travel programs still rely on a jumble of systems and contracts. This, he argues, creates "unnecessary complexity, excessive fees and a challenge to adequately report on the complete trip spend." Fichtelberg advocates for a single platform that puts travel, expense, data reporting and customer support under one roof. "Put yourself in the shoes of the customer. They have to deal with expense contracts and separate travel contracts, expense implementations then travel implementations, fees for expense reports and an endless menu of fees from the TMC. In addition, the TMC implementations involve a plethora of additional third-party setups for booking tools, quality control, reporting, 24/7 support... and the list goes on and on. In the end, the customer is trapped in this dysfunctional and cost-prohibitive maze. There has to be an easier way." Fichtelberg argues that "the dominoes have already begun to fall," citing American Express Global Business Travel's acquisition of KDS, a third-party booking and expense provider. "Is it time for third-party booking tools like Deem or Concur to consider acquiring a TMC? Is it feasible for a new entrant to build a vertical platform from the ground up, or are the barriers to entry too high? Who will the winners and losers be in a single-platform environment?"
Supplier Negotiations Are A Waste Of Time
President & CEO
Filsinger promises to spotlight new data that will demonstrate the uselessness of supplier negotiations. "In an era of dynamic pricing, I'd like to discuss why today's supplier negotiations are a complete waste of time. With the availability of Big Data on airfare and hotel prices, why not simply let the numbers do the talking?" Filsinger proposes to illustrate how "suppliers have used dynamic pricing to seemingly undermine corporate agreements. Until recently, this type of data wasn't made visible to corporate travel managers, leaving them to 'fly blind' in negotiations. Suppliers and buyers alike will lean forward as the insights on negotiated pricing will appeal to both sides of the aisle."
Seven Disruptive Technologies That Could Make TMCs Dinosaurs In Three Years (Or Less)
A travel management company executive himself, Glenn proposes to walk through "major exponential technologies that are accelerating at hyper speed that promise to be major disruptions to the travel management landscape." His message to TMCs: Disrupt yourself before you are disrupted. His address would explore the current TMC landscape and how business and service models "will be impacted by the rapid transformation of technology." He'll also address ideas for TMCs to maintain relevance and add value in the future. "TMCs, travel managers and suppliers all face a new world of exponential change that will affect their value proposition. This presentation allows them to identify those technologies and leverage them for prosperity."
Making Hotel Program Management Truly Proactive
Head of Corporate Sourcing For The Americas
Hillenmayer "works in the RFP trenches with corporate hotel programs every day," and his address will draw on this experience to explore new strategies and technologies to optimize travel budgets and hotel program management. Hillenmayer expects innovative hotel programs will "more actively analyze and direct corporate lodging spend in the years to come." His pitch goes: "Combining real-time hotel rate monitoring with preferred supplier usage reporting puts travel buyers in position to truly optimize the month-to-month management of hotel programs. By marrying automation, tech advances and real-time reporting with a company's real-time destination projections, buyers can engage with hotel suppliers not only during the historical RFP season but throughout the year." There's a takeaway for many constituents, he noted, as his address would explore how "hoteliers have to up their game when it comes to transparency and rate fidelity when it comes to everyday yield management; more buyers are being made aware when rates and availability are not what was promised during RFP season. TMCs likewise will encounter a more educated travel manager; both clients and prospects are advancing their lodging IQ, and TMCs need to enhance their service options accordingly."
Corporate Travel's Conundrum: Reactive Vs. Proactive
Chief Commercial Officer
"The booking of a business trip has been stifled for way too long," notes Jacques, who argues that the past of travel booking was reactive but its future is proactive. "Consider any online travel agency, online booking tool, supplier website or mobile site," he writes. "The solutions provided are based on the set of parameters known as your travel dates and times and in most cases augmented with a profile or status gained through individual or corporate achievement__maybe a special preference, fare or rate. It's seemingly been this way forever." Jacques says this reactive, transaction-focused approach will be a thing of the past. "Think proactive," he urges. "We have refrigerators in our homes today capable of reminding us we have run out of milk and can automatically add the item to our shopping list, alerting us when we arrive at the grocery store. We have cars warning us not to change lanes, some even stopping automatically when needed, and a few capable of autonomous driving." Jacques will address advancements in technology like these and how they can be applied to travel booking.
The 10-Step TMC plan To Avoid Death By AI And OTA
Travel Technology Analyst
"Artificial intelligence proponents claim that travel management companies are a thing of the past," Kameir writes in his proposal. "Online travel agencies claim to be the better choice for buyers. Based on three years of research, this 10-step plan summarizes the action items a TMC must implement now to survive the looming threats."
Optimizing Health And Productivity For Business Travelers
Work Well. Play More! Institute
Rader is an author and founder of the Work Well. Play More! Institute, which "helps growing businesses, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders all over the world maximize productivity, overcome limitations and achieve their loftiest professional aspirations." Her keynote would highlight how nutrition, sleep and movement support healthier, happier and more productive business travelers. "Business travel isn't part of a job," she writes. "It's a lifestyle. The tarmac treadmill can have massive effects on health, personal relationships and the feeling of telepressure to stay ahead at our jobs. Learning new ways to help the travelers can decrease our health care costs, increase our ROI of the employee and make them happier and more productive."
Why NDC Won't Break Down The GDS Oligopoly (Yet)
Pass Consulting Group
"Airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia and American have announced direct connect initiatives via NDC," write Strauss. "They either introduced charges to book through a GDS or will be offering additional capabilities if booked directly through their NDC interface. When it comes to costs (or certain fares not being available in preferred channels) it affects everybody. It sounds so easy how to use NDC, but the reality is: Not too many bookings are being made__especially for business travel. Why is that? GDSs won't just give up the battlefield of simple bookings (call it 'easily earned money') and only deal with the complicated PNRs." Strauss proposes to address the technological and commercial interdependencies of NDC in action. While critical of the global distribution system "oligopoly," he questions the sustainability of the redrawn commercial and technological landscape that NDC could produce. The proposition of NDC, argues Strauss, means that a "formerly relatively lean distribution chain will become a complicated commercial landscape with numerous airlines, numerous TMCs (or corporations) and several technology providers__all being connected to each other on a technological, as well as commercial, level."
The Shift From 'Travel Cost' To 'Business Facilitator'
Dr. Eric Tyree
Chief Data Scientist
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Tyree's pitch promises "a bold, future-oriented vision of how travel managers and buyers can and should use predictive analytics to drive their travel program." Because travel stands among the largest expenses at many companies, "controlling travel costs is critical to the health of any business and is central to a successful business travel program. However, the sheer volume of travel data makes it challenging to process, manage and interpret." Addressing advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics, Tyree will lend "a strategic view of how to use data to tackle overall travel spending." His address would include insights on aligning T&E spend with business objectives, understanding ROI, uncovering total cost of trip, driving travel decisions, reducing "non-trip, auxiliary or extra spending" and improving compliance.
NDC: Let's Talk About The Elephants In The Room
SVP of Travel Channels
"NDC has the potential to accelerate our industry towards richer content, more open systems, more personalization and product differentiation," Valmorbida posits. Yet, before NDC can deliver on its potential, "there are a few elephants in the room that we need to address." Valmorbida argues that "it's time to be honest about NDC" and face head-on the key issues and questions that must be addressed "before NDC can really deliver what it promises on a global scale." Valmorbida hopes to kick off "an industrywide conversation" in his address. "We will highlight the far-reaching consequences for all travel players, aggregators and IT providers and what needs to be done to make sure the whole industry can deliver on NDC in a way that benefits all players__and most importantly, travelers." Valmorbida's address takes into account not just how the industry can collaborate to "industrialize" NDC but how to preserve the "full transparency at shopping time" that travelers expect and why it is essential to create "new value for the traveler." He will sift through NDC's challenges and opportunities and address airline and marketplace readiness. "NDC can propel us into a new, open digital age, but we cannot allow it to take too long to deliver."
Vote for your favorite here, and don't forget to register for The Beat Live before our early-bird rate expires.