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 when The Beat Live comes to Atlanta from Oct. 3 to 5.
An array of industry pundits submitted pitches on what each would address in a keynote at The Beat Live. Only one top vote getter lands a half-hour solo slot 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 and our Readers' Choice awards here.
For more information on The Beat Live and to register at our early-bird rate, check our conference website.
What Corporate Flyers Really Want And How TMCs Can Deliver It
Albert proposes to address the current challenges travel management companies and corporate booking tools face in the realm of flight shopping. His keynote would uncover "the differences between leisure and corporate travelers and why the industry must keep pace with innovation." Along the way, he plans to address lessons that his company, which ATPCO acquired this year, "has learned in the corporate space in the last seven years, focusing on the challenges the industry has and why change has been slow."
Stop Millennializing, Start Mobilizing
Head Of Mobile
"You already know: Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation ever, and mobile is the global access point for every possible communication. Forget the clever design or user experience. None of it matters if the behind-the-scenes aspects of mobile are rubbish. In the spirit of Nike's Just Do It, it's time to call out the real business model, organizational, operational and legal dependencies that are holding back our industry and infuriating business travelers." Bayle's keynote proposes to deliver "a little tough love with an inspirational twist in a Bill Maher-meets-Sandra Bullock style you won't want to miss." It won't be a "drink-the-Kool-Aid kind of speech," either, he promises. Instead, "any travel industry leader who is sick and tired of the same old rhetoric and wants to talk real about what it truly takes to bring mobile to life in managed travel should tune in." He'll challenge the status quo and share "lessons from other industries plus the authentic voice of mobile travelers." His keynote's mission: "To rally everyone to deliver smarter travel experiences through mobile__across agency partners, corporate travel programs, travel suppliers and startup/new entrant players."
Corporate Hotel Programs Are Broken. Is There Any Way To Fix Them?
Chief Growth Officer
RoomIt by CWT
Brennan writes in his keynote pitch: "Year after year, hotel compliance remains stubbornly low. You spend hours sourcing rates and drafting policies, yet travelers continue to book directly with hotels because they want to earn loyalty points or through online travel agencies because 'they have the best rates.' Depending on the day, travelers may be right. The rates you negotiated really may not be the lowest available for that property on the date of stay. Can new sourcing strategies, incentives, technology and some old-fashioned traveler marketing turn things around? Possibly, if travel buyers are willing to try a new approach to finally solve an old problem."
Don't Call Me Millennial. Call Me Mark. OK, You Can Call Me Millennial, Too
General Manager And VP
Prime Numbers Technology
"Ditch the stereotypes and unlock the potential of the Millennial generation," Bresnahan writes in his keynote pitch. While often characterized as "lazy, narcissistic, entitled, boomerang children," he argues, "Millennials know how to harness the power of the connected world, embrace the entrepreneurial mind-set and collaborate at mass scale. How can you tap that potential and leverage it in your organization?" As this generation represents a sizable chunk of society, consumers and the corporate workforce, Bresnahan's keynote proposes to untangle a variety of generational conundrums. Among them, "companies are hyper-focused on marketing to the U.S. Millennial generation," he notes. "Are generational stereotypes still valid in the age of personalization?"
Becoming The Travel Manager Of The Data-Driven Generation
Global Category Leader Of Travel And Expense
As a leader of IBM's global travel practice, Busby is in tune "with the political currents travel managers negotiate every day." He proposes to illuminate "best practices in how to align data for proper usage, what possibilities exist with good data and how travel managers can take their new data expertise and elevate their positions within their organizations." He writes: "As the world moves towards Big Data and data-driven decision-making processes, travel is no different. Travel managers are under pressure from their organization to drive results and from technology, which forces innovative ways of doing things. The next-generation travel manager will be better labeled a 'data' manager. This will allow the travel manager to become a trusted business advisor, use time more efficiently and become proactive versus reactive. Travel managers have struggled with timely and accurate data for ages. As more and more travel reports in through finance and procurement, their processes are also a required method for doing business."
Ignore The Business Traveler At Your Own Risk
"We've all been ignoring the business traveler," writes Cohen. "Their needs have evolved. The corporate travel industry hasn't evolved with them__yet." Cohen argues that as business travelers face mental and physical stress, they're "ditching company policy to travel the way they want to__as comfortably, efficiently and easily as possible." He doesn't blame travelers for "going rogue." Instead, "the traditional TMC model is very broken. The answer isn't stricter policies and controls or letting managed travel become a free-for-all. It's no longer just about negotiating company policy, vendor contracts and managing T&E or about managing travel changes through overcomplicated, unsympathetic online booking tools and phone calls." Cohen would address how managed programs can align their interests with travelers' interests by providing travelers with personalization, transparency and "ample options, guidance and support to make travel decisions that make sense for them and their companies." His keynote will "dive into the new face of the technologically-savvy road warrior and why modernizing business travel means breaking__and reinventing__the old TMC model."
Making A Difference For The Small And Midsize Customer
VP Of Sales
Cumming's keynote pitch calls small and midsize businesses "the backbone of our country." In her proposed address, Cumming would focus on SMB buyers, "and how our industry needs to focus on helping them manage their T&E programs."
She writes: "I hear all the time from TMC partners that customers are 'too small' for them to help. There are some tools out there, but many TMCs still struggle to understand how to adapt to a new way of doing business." She'll address how the industry can better understand the needs of SMBs and share "recommended steps for TMCs that don't yet have a strategy" for this segment. "Our industry is missing a great opportunity to make a difference for SMB customers and their T&E programs. They may have fewer requirements than larger companies. However, they have the same desire to save money and keep their travelers safe."
Your Pilot Is Going To Fail
Twelve Squared Growth
"We all love innovation," writes Gross. "We all want to tap in, turn on and lead. Companies are looking for innovative new products to take their programs to the next level. TMCs and suppliers want to tap the latest technology and enhance revenue without big investment. Startups want rapid adoption and inexpensive distribution through a virtual sales force. Win-win-win. A match made in heaven. So why do so many pilots and partnership fail?" Gross would delve into "the hidden factors that drive success__and more often failure__from technical integration to commercial structure to service and more." His keynote proposes to "draw on case studies and interviews with leading players to provide a 360 view in an entertaining he-said/she-said format."
NDC: Now Driving Change Near You!
New Distribution Capability Program Director
International Air Transport Association
As program director for one of the hottest initiatives in airline distribution, Hoyles proposes to deliver a fact-or-fiction assessment of the IATA NDC standard, provide an update on industry adoption and outline "a vision of where the business travel industry could be in 2020 as a result." He calls NDC "the poster child for change." He adds, "Emerging content and distribution changes have the potential for far-reaching impacts on managed travel programs and the roles of key business travel players." Hoyles proposes to illuminate what the NDC standard is__and isn't__while sharing opportunities and challenges across the value chain, particularly for corporate buyers. He also plans to share insights from IATA's ongoing engagement with travel managers on NDC. "Now is the time to influence the distribution landscape and everything and everyone it effects," he writes.
Who Stole And Changed My Travel Industry Career?
Cornerstone Information Systems
"We know that the jobs are changing in the travel industry and becoming absorbed into all sorts of broadened job descriptions and titles," Orrego writes in his keynote pitch. "Where are the new jobs coming from in our industry? Where is my job going? What is my career path? If you don't have innovation in your title and you're not a chief something, evangelist or other, yours might be on the edge of becoming yesterday's travel industry career." Orrego proposes to address what trends are shaping careers in the travel industry, what knowledge is important to maintain and control in the industry, what career paths look like now and what skills one needs to compete. "As CEO of a technology company, we have sold to a variety of functions across the travel industry," he writes. "While there have been plenty of changes, we see that the future brings both challenges and opportunities. To better understand the changing nature of jobs in our industry, we have undertaken a study across the market and customer base to understand its impact on our company."
Will You Be Part Of The Consumer-Centric Approach For The Business Traveler__Or Be Left In The Aftermath Thinking It Was A Good Idea?
SVP Of Global Strategic Partnerships
Peter proposes to discuss "not just why, but how the industry must shift the approach in servicing the business traveler towards a consumer-centric offering." He argues: "Today's business traveler is savvy, knows what they want and expects it to be delivered. If you continue to treat this buyer as a policy pawn, being responsive in serving up options based upon preferred partners and personal preferences, you will lose not only their business but your credibility in the industry." His keynote proposes to address how machine learning combined with predictive analytics can design not just a personalized itinerary but a holistic journey. He plans to discuss how artificial intelligence plus third-party integration can blend to keep ahead of the business traveler's requests.
Stop The Boring Games Of Corporate Travel Management Progress
"When you have been in this godforsaken industry as long as me, you have to wonder what is the next bull****, venture capitalist-backed tool that will be the new messiah in corporate travel__riddled with claims of the next promised land and bothering me with ads popping up all over my Google searches when it is just a fabricated, fake promised land. The reality? We have it all wrong. We have missed the boat on the merging of satisfaction for everyone, not based on sacrifices but on the ideal of delivering something so everyone who travels for business is focused on two of the most important things in our lives: Our families and our careers." Seitz proposes to discuss "what can happen today in our industry, with the right vision and perspective on business travel. I will share the ideals of eliminating self booking, stopping expense reports, no calls to a TMC, with effective decisions founded in the ideals of past behaviors and the use of technologies that exist today. Can we not stop the madness and move our industry forward in a truly innovative manner?"
Swipe Right, Swipe Left: Why RFPs__Like Dating Sites__Are Driving Dysfunctional Relationships
"The majority of buyers and suppliers are being held back by dysfunctional relationships," Strachan writes. In her keynote, she'd argue that the "tried-and-tested methods of the RFP are no longer fit for purpose" and are "missing key criteria to identify successful and long-term buyer/supplier relationships." Her pitch continues: "Our business travel world has changed, which means the way we select suppliers needs to change, too. From dating (the RFP) to marriage (the contract) to honeymoon (those two weeks after contract signature) to implementation (honeymoon is over) to actual delivery (daily life) and, for many, the exit (divorce)." She'll address how "going back to basics and focusing on culture, capability and commercials can help buyers and suppliers find that partner for life and keep a successful relationship alive and enjoyable. Imagine a time whereby the relationship is such a good fit, with such strong governance in place, that all that is left to do is drive results and incremental value. We have been in that place and have witnessed what a huge difference this can make. I want to challenge the audience to adopt the same mind-set, delivering greater success for the whole value chain along the way."
Blockchain In Travel For Dummies: All You Need To Know__For Now
Strauss writes: "Is blockchain a digital revolution or fake hype? You hear blockchain, cryptocurrencies, the bitcoin and ether roller-coaster, but do you know what it is? Are you able to apply blockchain in your environment? Should you wait, or are you already missing out? If you Google 'blockchain,' you will find uncountable pages, but none explain in layman's terms what it is and why we need it__or not. My goal is to bring you up to speed to be able to follow a conversation and form your own opinion. We are still at the beginning of blockchain technology, and I believe, especially in travel, we need all experts at the table to sort out whether blockchain is friend, foe or both. Is it just a database or a medium to completely change the world as we know it? Will the middlemen__the GDSs, the TMCs__be replaced by smart contracts? Probably not in my career, but it is undeniable blockchain has some advantages. It would be a shame if a good idea stays off the road or a bad one is supported just because the real experts__and I quote Tony D'Astolfo from last year's [The Beat Live]__had 'no f****** clue what it is.'"