The Beat Live Keynote Pitches Are In. Time To Vote For Your Favorite

The Beat is proud to present pitches from an array of industry voices competing to deliver a keynote address at our 14th annual The Beat Live event, returning live and in-person on Dec. 7 in New York City.

Now it's time for you, the reader, to pick your favorite.

Your votes will determine one keynote speaker and a few runners-up who will participate on The Views panel and also identify the recipients of our annual Readers' Choice awards of the most-admired travel suppliers.

Below are the proposals, listed alphabetically by last name and edited for clarity and length. Please review each and then vote for your favorite, as well as for our annual Readers' Choice awards, here.

Technology-Driven Customer Experiences That Fuel The Evolving Needs Of Travelers
Allison Ausband
EVP & Chief Customer Experience Officer
Delta Air Lines
"Across industries, technology is changing how we operate our businesses, so much so that most of us, at our core, are now in the tech business. Thanks to apps and other digital platforms, a customer's experience often begins long before they encounter a company’s product or service," according to Ausband's keynote pitch. She plans to "examine the role technology plays in driving intelligent customer experiences as needs, behaviors and expectations evolve" and delve into "the competitive advantage your own employees can provide in the delivery of insight-driven capabilities." Through Ausband's proposed address, the audience will "come away with a new understanding of how to create an environment which fosters and accelerates innovation in this digital, technology-driven world."

Travel Data: Why It Matters, Where To Find It And How To Protect It
Brian Butler
Chief Sales Officer
"Thanks to limited automation and noncompliant employees, leaked travel data is an accepted—albeit dreaded—aspect of travel management," writes Butler. "Though leakage is 'normal,' it imposes horrendous risks for any business with traveling employees and limits program savings. In the post-pandemic world, travel data visibility promises to minimize the risk associated with the corporate travel program. But how do you achieve visibility without infringing on employee privacy, jeopardizing safety or creating security issues? After decades of development, there are several accepted ways to capture travel data. Some methods involve manual tasks or working more closely with your TMC, while other solutions lie with third-party providers. No matter which data aggregation methods your organization uses, privacy, safety and security are non-negotiable. It's essential to ensure all travel data is compliant with GDPR, CCPA and the emerging travel risk management standards outlined by ISO 31030." While Traxo operates in the realm of travel data capture, Butler vows to take an agnostic view and "outline all of the data aggregation methods available to travel managers today, including those provided by manual processes and our competitors. This discussion will illuminate a path for accessing complete travel data while protecting organizations and travelers." His proposed address will assess average leakage rates for air, hotel and car, identify manual and automated methods for capturing travel data, examine the most beneficial uses for complete corporate travel data and untangle key data security regulations and travel risk management standards.

Identify Yourself
Tracie Carillo
Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Travel Incorporated
Carillo writes: "Times have changed, and maybe, just maybe, there is some good to be found in that—but are you changing with them in a way that truly identifies yourself? Today's noise is deafening, and bids are coming in at a rapid pace. What are you doing to be seen? How do you need to be heard? How do you Identify yourself? This presentation isn't self-help—it is about communicating who you are to those that need to know!"

NDC And The Order: A Dynamic Duo Powering The Rebirth Of Corporate Travel
Gianni Cataldo
Head Of Product Strategy
"As travel emerges from the dark months of 2020-2021, leisure travel is a beacon for industry recovery. But what about corporate travel? It wasn’t long ago that teleconferencing was cast as the villain and challenged the need to fly. Look how that story turned out. So how can the industry help foster more prosperous business relationships through the travel experience? NDC and the order are the caped crusaders that will give both the road warrior and the occasional business traveler the innovation, flexibility and security they need and reignite demand. Discover what you can expect in this new chapter for corporate travel."

The New Era Of Business Travel: How TMCs And Tech Companies Are Joining Forces 
Duke Chung
Founder & CEO
"The pandemic caused a significant reduction in business travel but, as shown in other times of hardship, it presented the perfect time to innovate. When business travel returns, the landscape will be different and its technology will be front and center. From enabling a seamless integration between travel and financial technology, to providing more flexibility and personalization options, TMCs and tech companies are partnering up to usher in the new era of business travel. With the emergence of the delta variant, the business travel landscape continues to shift, making it top of mind to many industries. This session will provide audience members with practical and applicable steps on how to remain relevant in an ever-changing landscape." Chung proposes his address will be "unbiased and not self-serving," as he will "look ahead to the opportunities available to industry players during continued times of uncertainty," instead of dwelling on what "TravelBank has done as a result of pivoting away from travel during the pandemic." His address will include "an overview of the business travel industry as a whole" and he will discuss "a number of companies who have used TMC partnerships and technology to evolve their business." He notes: "The pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s not too late to make a pivot in order to survive the unpredictable climate we are in."

What Should Tomorrow's TMC Model Look Like?
Shaun Clear
Global Head of Operations
"The TMC's operational model has remained largely untouched for decades while the broader customer service world has evolved exponentially," writes Clear. "Customers now expect around-the-clock service, whether it’s in banking, IT support or medical providers and don’t feel they should pay more for it. For some successful organizations Covid-19 has accelerated large-scale digitization, including machine learning, bots and self-service models that have provided immense value in the face of the challenges the pandemic has exposed. These measures were necessary not just for the customer, but for businesses that needed to quickly adapt to smaller resource pools and new remote work models adopted by many. Why did the TMC model struggle with this, and how does it need to transform in the next three to five years to give customers the value they’re looking for?" Clear proposes to "delve into what the future of the TMC's operational model could look like, aiming to unlock the problem statement by comparing evolving customer trends and new innovative practices that may seem blue-sky futuristic for the travel industry, but are commonplace in other industries." Clear advocates for a "scalable" model that offers "service everywhere, all the time" and "keeps it profitable, but fair."

Overcoming Stress: Creating Success With Mindfulness
Holly Duckworth
Leadership Teacher, Coach, Trailblazer
Leadership Solutions International
"Is your mind full, or mindful? This talk would share real-life case studies on the secular and neuro-scienced-based practice of mindfulness—why, how and what mindfulness is to impact our stressed-out industry." Duckworth, a Certified Meeting Professional, writes: "We live in a world of bigger, better, faster and more. A way of life that was unsustainable. The pandemic brought us the opportunity, whether we liked it or not, to pause, reflect and begin again. Many of us have lost professional friends, and family at this time. This caused us to re-evaluate. The audience should listen to create lives they love, meetings that matter and make a lasting impact."

NDC Is 20 Years Late To The Party…
Alice Ferrari
"Airlines need radical change in systems and infrastructure to keep up with the expectations of modern online shoppers," according to Ferrari's keynote pitch. "While the retail industry is built on modern systems created in the last decade, airlines continue to rely on legacy technology to sell flights and present offers to consumers. These tech stacks were built before the internet and are not designed for the requirements of today's online retail: Purchasing in one click, bundling products, offering recommendations, memorizing favorites or making wish lists, etc. New Distribution Capability, first introduced by IATA, is an attempt by airlines to take control of direct and indirect sales channels, modernize the flight booking experience and reduce reliance on legacy systems." Yet, Ferrari notes, "NDC is a pretty good concept," but "the standard and the technology around it was designed almost 20 years ago. It's outdated, loosely defined and open to interpretation. It exacerbates one of the core weaknesses in airline sales and distribution by maintaining differentiation in tech stacks between direct and indirect distribution. In its current form, NDC will not be able to deliver on its design. There is a need for modern technology to bridge the gap between where we are today and a world where airline retail is completely reimagined." While Kyte deals in airline distribution APIs and works with NDC, Ferrari said she would avoid a sales pitch, and instead, aims "to raise awareness and hopefully provide a perspective on how to develop the flight booking experience of the future." Ferrari notes: "If NDC fails, what next? How many chances can airlines have to fail to modernize? At what point do the best retailers out there move into travel? Airlines risk retail giants like Google or Amazon taking over this space and the airline service becoming completely commoditized." 

Build An Inclusive Travel Culture
Annelies Glandorf 
Global Corporate Travel Experience Program Manager 
Shell International B.V.
"The pandemic and everything in its wake shifted our focus beyond recognition. However, as some pockets of activity start to recover, we think it's important to zoom back in on the topics we hold dear to our heart. We take our duty of care extremely seriously. Our mission is 'enabling a seamless end to end travel and meeting experience, allowing people to be their best.' This means that every employee should be able to benefit from that same seamless experience. Can our (neuro-) diverse communities, differently- or otherwise abled, with any kind of cultural background or sexual orientation, truly say they enjoyed a seamless experience? A modest survey exploring whether women went through a seamless experience while traveling alone returned unexpected and unnerving results. Further dialogue with our active diversity-and-inclusion communities laid open unchartered territories and much room for improvement. Being ambitious, we decided we should aim for a standard for inclusive travel that might eventually be embraced beyond our company remits. Can you help us consider how we can jointly establish common, sound and ambitious standards for inclusive travel, that will eventually accelerate industry adaptation?"

Journey To The Amazon: The Top Four Future Of Work Trends
David Grace
"Congratulations! You’ve arrived in the future. What does this place look like? How do we know? And what’s so different about it? (Other than we’ll all be wearing pants to meetings again.)" In his proposed keynote, Grace offers "to explore the top four features of the future of work and how to prepare for each of them using technology. You’ll find out how to approach each topic, how to evaluate important considerations, and what features to look for in technology platforms that are actually useful to your travelers and your travel program. Don’t you wish business travel was less like a complicated NASA diagram (or IKEA instructions!) and more efficient and powerful like Amazon? We think it should be." Grace said his address would leave the Deem product "Etta at the airport lounge," and avoid a sales pitch, while he addresses "the bigger concepts of work, travel and technology. Because in this future, the hero is you. And the future is now."

BlockChange: How Blockchain Can And Will Change The Game
Sam Hilgendorf
Chief Information Officer
Fox World Travel
"When was the last time you couldn’t find that one important receipt you needed as you were scrambling to complete your expense report? Each time we travel, we leave a large and complex wake of information and transaction data across a landscape of unconnected players. Airlines, hotels, ground transportation, restaurants all need to have access to information to verify identity, confirm a reservation and to ensure payments are processed correctly. Over the course of a single business trip, do you know how many times your information is transferred between different parties? How often are all these information handoffs executed flawlessly? What about when you make an itinerary change? We have become so accustomed to this disjointed experience, that we create our own unique 'travel hacks' to manage the craziness. But what if all these transfers and handoffs never had to happen in the first place? This is where the technology of blockchain has the potential to change travel for the better. Blockchain is a poorly understood, but potentially vital technology for the future of travel. When most people hear the term blockchain, they think of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. However, the technology behind blockchain has unique relevance to the travel industry and can change how we buy, sell and engage in travel. Learn how blockchain works without all the jargon and see how this decentralized ledger could revolutionize travel and reduce the excessive trail of information that we leave behind on every trip. From better identity and profile management to payment traceability, blockchain can greatly reduce the errors and mistakes that are pervasive in today's traveler experience."

Why Business Travelers Will Care About Personalized Travel
Eric Leopold
Managing Director
"Business travelers only care about schedule and price," or so Leopold has heard. "It’s long overdue we put this myth to rest. In 2021, the light can be seen at the end of the Covid tunnel, but business travel will reportedly never fully recover from this unprecedented crisis. Somehow, I can foresee a different story: Business travel will recover. Covid showed us the limits of spending days on Zoom. Videoconferences are great between meetings, but face‐to‐face human interactions are irreplaceable. Business travelers will care about more than schedule and price. They will care about 'sustainability,' not a buzzword anymore after the Covid crisis hangover. Business travelers have changed perspectives. They now expect a travel provider who cares, first about their health, because they know that virus travels also by air, but also about the environment, because they became mindful of the environmental impact of a business trip. Sustainability has become a significant factor in travel demand, but will airlines manage to deliver on those new expectations? The carriers who've invested in understanding customers' preferences, who are able to make personalized offers and who actually care about the traveler’s experience, will definitely make a difference. It will require a few more adjustments in the shopping and servicing processes, but in a post-Covid world, this is what business travelers may expect for their return to the air."

Data Insight: I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours
Rajiv Rajian
Executive Vice President, Travel Unit, Americas
"In today’s digital economy, data insight has become one of the most important resources for businesses, proving significant influence on business models and operational efficiencies. While in the past data was considered purely a product enabler, created, collected and used for the benefit of internal business processes, today the insights gained are products in and of themselves and a strategic asset to unlock new opportunities. This has led to a paradigm where companies that can collaborate and bring their collective knowledge of customers together are in a better position to provide more tailored services to create new revenue opportunities for everyone, and ultimately deliver the level of service and personalization we all aspire to in travel. Imagine a business trip where identification and health status requirements are shown once, a corporate credit card never needs to be presented, and a traveler doesn’t need to rebook or alert anyone to a trip change because all of their travel service providers are connected and 'talking' to each other. Technology does all the work to deliver a seamless trip so a business traveler can focus on that next meeting or presentation, and their company can manage cost and duty of care and minimize high-touch services. This talk will explore what can be made possible if travel providers could indeed securely access and share data insights about traveler preferences and trips to better match customer needs with more personalized offers delivered at the right time."

Business Travel Needs A Measurement On Travel Enablement. Our Survival Depends On It.
Aash Shravah
"Business travel is struggling. Leisure travel is rebounding by traveling to destinations where there is no Covid requirements or minimal vaccine requirements. Business travel cannot do that," writes Shravah, a former TMC executive. "We need business travel enablement by numbers and facts." Writes Shravah: "For the business travel industry to maximize business travel, we need to change how the pandemic is being measured. The use of the number of 'cases' is no longer reasonable yet that is the only measurement that is being used. Business travelers have always undertaken minimal risks when traveling. We need a metric that companies can use to understand where their employees can travel. A metric that does not take case count into consideration. Measuring risk by case count will keep business travel suppressed for another one to two years. Businesses will struggle and lose market share if someone does not take immediate action. Instead, we should measure the death toll as a percentage of population, the local vaccination rates, the vaccination of the individual traveling, and R-naught to measure if travel is permissible or not. This will give travel managers clarity into whether travel should be approved or not. As an industry, we missed the boat on this when the pandemic started, and were not able to get ahead of it. The damage has been done. Let's move forward and give our industry a chance by really assessing the ability to travel by measuring the virus the right way. Business travelers and travel managers need us to help them. Let's not let them down."

Going Beyond The Room And Beyond The Crisis
Frank Trampert
Global Managing Director
Sabre Hospitality Solutions
"The Covid-19 pandemic has a been a catalyst for long-simmering change in the hospitality industry. But how can hoteliers ensure they are part of that change, rather than being left behind as recovery gains momentum? Influenced by their interactions with retailers such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify, travelers demand more than ever from their travel experiences, which is understandable at a time we will never again take travel for granted. Hoteliers now need to rethink what their product is, or can be in the future, and how they approach content and product creation, distribution and fulfillment in radical new ways to meet the complex demands of post-pandemic guests." Focusing on an intelligent retailing approach, Trampert proposes to provide insight into how guest demand has changed during the pandemic, which of these changes are here to stay and how hoteliers can leverage technology to match the shifting hospitality landscape. He will reveal the latest recovery trends Sabre is seeing in the marketplace, including signs of recovery starting to emerge in the corporate travel space. He also will examine "the future role artificial intelligence will play in creating a truly personalized travel marketplace; enabling hoteliers to go far beyond room-based attributes—thinking not about how to make the most of every room, but instead how to make the most of every booking, from pre-stay to post-stay."

Unused Values: Three Reasons Why They're An Undervalued Opportunity
Shelly Younger 
Director, Airline Retailing Strategy and Head of NDC
"Covid-19 has magnified long-standing opportunities for the airline industry, especially surrounding corporate travel. Business travelers have a heightened need for flexibility, resulting in ticket changes, and pandemic-driven health and staffing changes have caused more business tickets than ever to go unused, with some values lost entirely. Last year, the six largest U.S. airlines reported more than $11 billion in unused tickets, and some individual companies had over $1 million in unused tickets. How the travel industry chooses to handle unused tickets, ancillaries, vouchers, service compensation, loyalty points, waivers and favors, and other airline values has significant implications—and now is the time to make a shift. Corporate customers, travel agencies and travelers should be able to easily access and redeem unused value across any channel, consistent with other modern retail experiences. Providing full transparency to all unused values and the parameters to use them will give corporations, travel managers and travelers a single source of truth. Travel agencies can streamline visibility and usage of unused values without performing complex exchanges. Airlines that provide more flexibility and transparency for unused value will be better positioned to respond to changing market demands and drive more value for themselves and their customers. ARC is focused on addressing the challenges of unused values and the complexities that come with them and can offer insights into existing workarounds and emerging solutions. The intention is to offer thought leadership on this issue and inspire others who have ideas in this space."

Is Group Travel The Future Of Corporate Travel? 
Alex Zoghlin 
"Depending on who you ask, corporate travel is either already back on the up-and-up or will never return to levels previously seen. But with the new hybrid workforce that will undoubtably be the reality of the future landscape for years to come, this brings opportunities for group travel to potentially lead the new revolution of corporate travel.  Many employees aren’t physically together anymore. What used to historically be more along the lines of moving five people around a hundred times, will we now see the inverse? Companies moving a hundred people around five times in a year for company off-sites and bigger groups coming together.  Will corporate spend end up larger than it was, the same spend or less than pre-pandemic levels? Will the future be the same amount of spend but just getting there in a different formula?  How should airlines, TMCs and corporate booking tools plan for a potential different corporate landscape?"

Thanks to everyone who submitted a pitch. Now, the readers decide. Please vote here for your favorite.