This post is part of the 2015 Keynote Vote for The Beat Live, in Arlington, Va., Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Topic: Reinventing How We Purchase Travel
In the mid-1990s, procurement principles began dominating the business travel industry, forcing open discussions around full transparency in the world of suppliers. This came on the heels of the airlines eliminating commissions, as everyone tried to figure out who paid whom and for what. For several years thereafter, buying strategies for TMCs, airlines, hotels, etc., were new and innovative. Sadly, those innovations have largely settled into an endless series of the same old RFPs and "sharpen your pencil" conversations that have come to yield very little, if anything, incrementally.
Meanwhile, personal technology and social networking have emerged as a permanent part of the travel landscape. No one has combined these two powerful forces to leverage new business travel buying strategies. But there's an idea that could change all of that.
What If ...
Let's say, hypothetically, you are a pharma sales rep and you know at least three months in advance who you are going to visit and how often. What if you created a social network with all of your clients that included access to their work calendars? Then, what if you were able to have a reservation system connect to your social network and determine the best combination of cities, dates, etc.__mapping an itinerary that optimizes your travel plans in 90-day batches? Today, we make meetings first and plan our travel as cost-/time-effectively as possible. What if we flipped the model and planned our meetings around cost-effective travel instead?
Ron DiLeo is Altour executive vice president and chief commercial officer.