We asked. You delivered. The Beat is excited to present a record number of pitches from an array of industry voices competing to deliver a keynote address at The Beat Live.
Now it's time for you, the reader, to choose your favorite.
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 Beat Live in New York, from Sept. 17 to Sept. 19.
The industry pundit who receives the most votes will land a half-hour solo slot on stage to deliver his or her proposed address, while a few runners-up will participate in The Views panel discussion.
Below are the keynote 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 Readers' Choice awards, here.
For more information about The Beat Live and to register at our early-bird rate, check our event website.
From Travel Hell To Travel Well: Secrets To Stay Energized, Healthy And Balanced During Business Travel
Chief Balancing Officer
For more than 30 years, Ayo traveled "around the world" as an employee of IBM, learning firsthand the toll business travel can take. "I lived it so you don't have to," he writes. The wellness advocate and author of Travel Balance: Where Healthy Travel Drives Greater Business Profitability asks: "What if you could maintain your poise, your good mood, your energy and your health no matter what crazy stuff happens on your trip?" He has tips, tricks and research to show the way. "Anyone who travels for business will tell you it can be very stressful from almost every perspective. You travel for business for a reason, and if you can’t perform at your best, it could impact the profitability of your business." Ayo adds: "My presentation will show attendees how to be more productive, healthy and energized when they travel by giving them my inside secrets to reduce stress on the road, improve travel health, increase productivity and reduce absenteeism."
Traveler Or Corporation: Who Are We Actually Servicing?
SVP, Business Development and Marketing
"Who are we actually servicing?" Carillo asks. "Sometimes we forget it's the traveler." Her keynote proposes to address "where the traveler will take your business program in the next three years." She adds: "No matter how hard you try to control expenses and guide travel compliance, the culture, security and quality of the traveler experience will override your corporate cost savings objectives every time. Traveler-centricity only occurs through traveler input. How do you listen to the traveler in our fast-paced business environment? How will consumer-driven expectations drive travel management company technology development? How fast is fast enough?" Carillo proposes to answer these questions and "outline the most contentious, and likely, traveler expectations within the self-service environment."
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Ethics Of Machine Learning
Co-founder and CEO
"What do the travel industry, the criminal justice system and human resources management have in common?" Chandran asks. "They are all starting to leverage the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to make smarter, quicker decisions." Sounds great, right? Well, Chandran adds, "handing over the task of interpreting data to complex algorithms has its benefits ... and risks. Whether misclassifying the risk of recidivism in criminal justice or propagating bias in hiring decisions, ceding decision-making to a black box can have unintended consequences." As the travel industry adopts machine learning, Chandran pleads for caution, noting that "it is incumbent upon us as a community to deploy new solutions thoughtfully." In a keynote, Chandran would explore "potentially problematic applications of machine learning in travel. For example, a machine learning algorithm may conclude, based on historical data, that women prefer traditional hotels to accommodation-sharing services, and make future recommendations accordingly without addressing the underlying concern for safety—propagating the issue rather than addressing it." Chandran proposes to share "a nontechnical overview of how algorithms can be biased, how to spot and prevent potential data biases and provide questions we should all ask ourselves and each other—vendors, users, engineers, tech providers and managers—that will help the industry deliver on the promise of machine learning."
Changing A Flight At The Press Of A Button—Is It Possible?
Head, Airline IT Product Management for the Americas
Cuvelier writes that travelers want simplicity, flexibility, speed and ease. "Have you ever booked a flight on the wrong date? Or to the wrong airport? It happens to all of us, but lesser known is the massive effort required on the back end to resolve these problems. What should the industry do about it? Airlines, TMCs, travel agencies and technology providers must collaborate to meet rapidly changing market demands. Changing a flight at the press of a button should be more than a pipe dream." Cuvelier proposes a deep dive on the complex systems "that plague our industry today" and "how initiatives like NDC and One Order are making big strides." She'll share "concrete actions that we as an industry still need to take."
High Tech Versus High Touch
President and Managing Director, Americas
"AI, machine learning and digital automation are among the most hyped areas in the travel industry," Ferguson writes. "Business travel stands to gain, given the high amount of people, processes and automation involved." His keynote would review "the technologies available, the investments being made and look at how digital automation could transform the business travel process and impact physical roles that exist today." By reviewing evidence from academic research and "examples from a range of other consumer and industry sectors," Ferguson will deliver "a controversial and contrarian" perspective. He proposes to demonstrate how tech advancement "creates more physical jobs than it removes" and how AI's role in automating travel processes will "deliver more convenience and enhance and accelerate the need for human interaction."
Embracing The AI Revolution
President and CEO
"In 2017, The Economist published an article declaring, 'The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data,'" writes Filsinger. "While the piece has been much maligned, there's no denying that data is an extremely valuable commodity—or that the travel industry is dripping with it." He continues: "But like crude oil that needs to be refined, so does data. I would like to give the industry a call to action to bring AI into their organization and to be an active participant in the travel data revolution. Powerful machine learning algorithms have the potential to optimize the traveler experience, enhance travel management and usher in cost efficiencies. In an industry that has been slow to embrace advances in new technology, the AI revolution is one we can't only afford to miss but one we must lead." Filsinger proposes to urge attendees "not only to sit up and listen but to hear the starting gun, take action within their organization and be an agent for change."
The Successful Human Corporation
General Manager and VP, Northern Europe
American Express Global Business Travel
"Future-facing organizations encourage employees to think and act more like thought leaders, to dare to speak up, to have opinions and to communicate in new ways. The new human corporation starts and ends with us showing up fully as ourselves—at every level of the workplace," Geall writes. He proposes that "people are the core value proposition in many companies." But, he writes, their value, focus and engagement vary. Geall plans to discuss how to unlock employee engagement and help refocus business travel "on purpose, presence and results." Nurturing the "human corporation," he writes, "involves risk-taking and in some cases significant organizational and cultural overhaul. But it offers potential for creating work environments that foster healthy, successful people and businesses." He adds: "When we make room for people to employ themselves fully at work, thereby also encouraging diversity of thoughts and backgrounds, we nurture better engagement and more opportunity for innovation."
Everyone Can Play A Role To Fight Human Trafficking
Rescue Party Give
"It's necessary for each of us to find our purpose in life, to take the lessons in our past and learn from them. I want to not just live in this world; I want to make it better," writes Keltner, former corporate travel manager for Toyota Motor North America who now combats human trafficking. "Sadly, slavery has become a big topic in our industry. You may wonder how a Chinese-American raised in The Land of the Free can talk about slavery. I know slavery in my bones, for my mother was enslaved by mental illness. I know the choices that we make to stay in corporate America and put on golden handcuffs. I spent years competing to be the best and to chase the almighty dollar. I also know what it feels like to see or hear about situations of human trafficking in our industry and look the other way. It is this reason that I now use my talents to speak up." Keltner's nonprofit, Rescue Party Give, aims to fight human trafficking through collaboration with corporations, academia, government, law enforcement and churches. "We host events to bring community together to raise awareness that everyone has a role to play in fighting human trafficking," according to its website. Keltner's pitch concludes: "God has tasked me to throw galactic freedom parties. Beam me up, Scotty!"
Millennials And Aviation's Technology Metamorphosis
Senior Manager, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Patents
Amadeus Software Labs India
"The aviation industry is undergoing a metamorphosis towards enhanced functionality and customer loyalty," Menon writes. "AI and machine learning are rewriting the narrative around building a superior travel experience and a robust plan for airlines to secure higher returns." He notes that the Internet of Things, AI, machine learning and other technologies "announce the new age dawning on the whole aviation industry." Yet, Menon continues: "Despite this, we have a long way to go to please our largest—and fastest-growing—target group in any market globally: Millennials. Currently, they comprise one-third of the workforce. By 2020, Millennials will account for close to half of all business travel spend worldwide. For them, value is one of the biggest drivers. Connected round-the-clock, this cohort spends sizable time reading reviews online, comparing packages and planning itineraries. Thus, it only makes sense to design travel experiences mindful of this up-to-date, tech-savvy, impatient and always-wanting-more group."
The Golden Age Of Travel Shouldn't Suck This Much
Chief Experience Officer, Corporate Brands
Flight Centre Travel Group
"We’re arguably in the Renaissance of travel," Morhous writes. Among positives, he observes, "overall costs to travel are down, flight and route options are vast, airline products are improving, great technology solutions are available across all aspects of travel and a thriving innovation and investment ecosystem is driving new ideas." Yet, Morhous adds: "Despite all of that, travel sucks more than ever! Planes are full, seats are small, and your phone is now buzzing with a dozen different notifications and alerts from the army of apps you've downloaded. The airline lounge feels like a mosh pit, and your platinum status gets you into the top 20 of the upgrade list—if you’re lucky. Oh, and just wait for industry evolutions like NDC to come into your world and complicate it even more, as we straddle the 'new' and 'old' for a few years." Morhous argues that travelers deserve better. "We’ve created too much complexity in our industry for the sake of it. In the process, we've smashed the love of travel that we all once had. It's time to think about how we get that dream back." His keynote would discuss: "How do we move things forward, and leverage our collective industry advancements, both technology and people-wise, to make travel fun again?"
Distribution Evolved: The Integrated Future Of Air Travel Retailing
EVP and COO
"In air travel, the line between direct and indirect channels is blurring," Reishus writes. "The business traveler's experience is no longer dictated by where they bought their ticket. As airline retailing evolves, organizations throughout the value chain need to adapt to a more flexible, collaborative environment of omnichannel content distribution and channel-agnostic servicing." In her keynote, Reishus proposes to take attendees along the modern business traveler's journey to show how an integrated future will: "Create a better end-to-end experience with less trip friction; ensure policy compliance and access to contracted fares, regardless of channel; empower TMCs to better service all client tickets; provide travel managers with easier access to more robust data; and enable airlines to deliver in-policy, personalized product and service offerings." Reishus writes that "corporate travel is one of the most valuable activities within any organization, and business travelers are some of the most valuable assets. They want a seamless traveler journey regardless of where they book, while still ensuring policy compliance, duty of care requirements and effective servicing by their TMCs."
Travel Booking Is Broken: How Technology Can Fix It
President, COO and CEO
"It's a common refrain in the industry: Corporate travel booking tools are inefficient, clunky and slow. Frustrated with these tools, travelers turn rogue and take to consumer sites. Travel manager and TMC frustrations mount," while duty of care, pre-trip approval and spend tracking suffer. "Can technology really solve this eternal struggle?" Rizzo asks. To answer, he proposes to "share the six ways technology and smart design are providing new opportunities to improve business travelers'—and travel agents'—lives everywhere. From intelligently integrating ridehail content and building programs across devices to exploring chatbot usability and the implications of Big Data," Rizzo will deliver insights on travel "gained from years of working in Silicon Valley with some of the world's most successful companies, including Apple and Intel."
The Airline Retailing Revolution Is Now
Chief Commercial Officer
"The revolution of airline retailing is happening right now, and it's changing the face of corporate flight shopping in front of our eyes," Savitch writes. "After the dark ages of merchandising, corporate consumers are demanding a better experience, and airlines are taking big steps to transform offers as direct and indirect channels work with technology partners." Savitch proposes to share "what it takes to get it right, what you can do to stay competitive and how the industry can work together to retail like pros." His pitch continues: "Corporate sales channels have a difficult job in keeping relationships with airlines on track while providing a leisure-like shopping experience. Airlines want to be portrayed accurately on all third-party sites." In a keynote, Savitch would "dive into the complex relationships the industry has and learn ways to overcome these so every airline and channel can take their seat at the center of the retailing revolution."
The Corporate Social Responsibility Clarion Call
Venkatesh Madurai Subramanian
"This is a wake-up call on caring for fellow human beings," Subramanian writes of a keynote pitch that will urge attendees to increase traveler engagement in corporate social responsibility activities. "I strongly believe that most of us have an innate desire to reach out and touch other human lives. While there exists innumerable success stories on leadership, I'd like to share a touching incident that united an entire organization towards a single cause. Thanks to the leadership shown by a handful of people, a small gesture rapidly gathered momentum and went on to secure the life of a fellow colleague, while setting a shining example in terms of employee solidarity."
Oh BT! Why Online Booking Tools Need To Wake Up And Smell The Coffee
"You can't attend a conference without some mention as to how the online booking tool providers need to move into the 21st century—and quick! Restrictive reseller agreements, content complications and user experience gaps have been festering for a while and lead to unsatisfied buyers." Tilstone is taking a deep dive into the topic. "By September," he writes, "we will have completed a deep listening exercise across both buyer and OBT supplier perspectives. We will overlay broader industry and nonindustry trends to ensure a thoughtful and engaging presentation on the challenges and potential for the point-of-sale/point-of-experience platform of the future."
Blockchain And Hotel Commission Settlement
Head of Strategy, Hotel and Car
"Blockchain capabilities will drive travel innovation in 2019 and beyond, with the potential to provide TMCs real ROI with hotel commission settlements and benefits to corporate travel programs," Vinograd writes. "Currently, a large percentage of hotel commissions are getting lost or going unpaid due to the manual processes required to fulfill commission settlements. This discussion will explore how blockchain capabilities will revolutionize the travel industry by automating the commission settlement process to improve fulfillment accuracy and deliver timely payments."
Democratizing Disruption Recovery
Business Development Manager
"Travel disruption is something we as an industry can leverage technology to get in front of and proactively address," Willoughby writes. "When I worked at American Airlines, the only people who received proactive travel monitoring and proactive reaccommodation were Concierge Key members, an invitation-only group that made up less than 1 percent of the entire AAdvantage elite population. Other airlines have similar elite groups, and they understandably limit membership due to the costs of delivering high-touch service. However, we have the data and logic today that can reduce the costs of proactive travel monitoring and reaccommodation." Willoughby adds: "Travel disruptions cost time, money and morale. There are ways to audit past travel to quantify the money, hours and days lost to disruption. Perhaps harder to measure—but most troubling—is how travel disruption impacts people's mental and physical well-being, which factors into burnout. This cost is hard to quantify but something we all know is there and a tremendous drag on companies."
Vote here for your favorite.