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 when our 13th annual The Beat Live goes virtual on Dec. 10.
Now it's time for you, the reader, to choose your favorite.
Your feedback 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.
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.
Why Does Everything Have To Be So Complicated? Let's Make Travel Simple Again
Senior Vice President, Business Development and Marketing
Carillo writes in: "All we want to do is run a highly effective travel program—should be simple enough, right? Is it too much to ask for an easy tool to clearly know what the re-entry requirements are for a given country from my origin? Or, how I can simplify my traveler tracking when they don't always book within policy? Don't even get me started with all the different possible commercial models—transaction, pay for service, a combination. I just want to run the best program I can, as easily as possible! Let's review the practical approaches, pros and cons to the easiest way forward! Let's Make Travel Simple Again!"
Breaking Free From The Pitfalls Of Indirect Distribution
nuTravel Technology Solutions
Carpanzano's proposed keynote will delve into "the need for and potential of omnichannel distribution technology in the corporate travel landscape allowing for diverse and transparent options and choices that would otherwise remain underserved. Particularly in a post-Covid ecosystem, suppliers and travel managers can benefit from a multi-layered technology 'supplier-paid' channel that benefits both sides while breaking free of the old pitfalls of indirect distribution." Carpanzano's keynote would "provide insight on a wide array of relevant statistics and diverse vantage points regarding the future landscape of travel distribution and of the business traveler."
Why The Global Economy Needs Our Industry To Wake Up—And Do More
Chief Marketing Officer
"To say that the strength of the global economy depends on the ability of travel and tourism to thrive is an understatement. Just last year, we, as an industry, contributed 10 percent of global GDP and one in 10 jobs around the world. Nearly a year into navigating this crisis, consumer confidence in travel is returning and many across the industry have proven we can react quickly: We’re seeing more touchless technology from suppliers, on-site testing at airports and new safety measures at every step of a traveler's journey. Our industry’s recovery deserves nothing less than the full support and attention of the world’s leaders, decision-makers and influencers—but we cannot just sit back and wait until government legislation and industry support lean in our favor before we do more." Catto's proposed address will "offer a provocative outlook that questions what industry players should be doing—and should have stopped doing a long time ago, to ensure a bright future ahead." She adds: "Travel is being reinvented in front of our eyes. It’s time that we finally address the more fundamental issues we’ve collectively ignored for too long—and continue to hold us back."
Traveling With Empty Pockets: The Future Of Payment Beyond The Pandemic
"Banks and financial institutions have held a monopoly over the payment ecosystem for many years," according to Choe's keynote pitch. "While travel managers have card and payment policies, payment data is gathered separately with limited technological capabilities for pre-trip approval. In the past few years, the notion of the 'plastic payment card' has been disrupted. A host of service providers are showing consumers the benefit of frictionless payment via mobile wallets. Payment security and fraud detection are driving the innovation of more technologies, such as biometric scanning and AI-based fraud detection. Covid-19 is accelerating this transformation by making touchless payment mandatory while further complicating the pre-trip approval process. Medical, border entry, security, risk and financial controls are all involved—leaving travelers with multiple approval processes for travel bookings as well as a separate approval process for trip expenses. Companies will now have the painstaking task of reconciling these separate processes into a single trip. Luckily, advances in virtual payment technology and AI-based technology can be optimized for a seamless and secure process end-to-end. As payment and expense is one of the core components of a holistic travel and expense program, negotiating how travelers pay and how expense data can be optimized should be a focus for travel managers in the next few years."
An Expense-Free Future Of Corporate Travel
In his keynote, Cohen proposes to give a glimpse into an expense-free future in corporate travel and offer a path forward to eliminate expense reports. "New developments in the fintech world have created a unique opportunity for companies to streamline corporate travel and expense programs," according to Cohen's pitch. "It’s not just about virtual cards: Real-time data can now be tracked and baked into corporate policy to actively and dynamically manage spend, reduce fraud and enhance duty of care. And properly woven into a corporate T&E program, the technology now exists to automatically recognize and reconcile expenses as a function of travel itinerary. The result: streamlined T&E and the end of expense reports for road warriors." Cohen will "focus on the developments and technology stacks involved with creating automated payment, expense and reconciliation solutions," arguing that the "entire industry needs better insight into how modern, integrated, payment, expense and reconciliation platforms work." His pitch notes: "Everyone likes the idea of no expense reports and streamlining expense and reconciliation, but few understand and trust how that process works. This talk will take an unbiased look at how fintech innovations have stacked together to create a solution for automating payment and expense—and help shed light onto the simplicity and friendliness of the process."
The Changing Role Of The Travel Manager
Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Customer Success
"It’s a new world for business travel," according to Hollyhead's keynote pitch. "The travel manager has emerged from the pandemic with a business-critical role. Covid-19 has put the issue of corporate travel firmly on the C-suite agenda, and the modern travel manager must navigate the new requirements of the employee when traveling. The travel manager now operates in an elevated role with executive leaders to deliver information and services that enhance traveler well-being while defining new guidelines for corporate travel to reduce risk. Forty-eight percent of travel managers say their senior leaders value the managed travel program more than they did before the pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in a dynamic travel environment that sometimes requires fast decision-making. Now more than ever, travel managers need to be able to proactively communicate with travelers throughout the entire booking path to help them make safer, more compliant choices before and during their trips. And, when the unexpected does occur, travel managers need to have access to in-the-moment support and expert guidance. Travel managers are the heart of the industry. It is our duty—not only as a TMC, but the entire industry—to adapt and equip our leaders with the tools, services and information to help them manage their employees' safety and well-being."
Savings Beyond Sourcing: A Dynamic Approach To Hotel Category Management
Senior Director and Global Hotel Practice Lead
"The Covid-19 pandemic has permanently altered the business travel landscape, and travel managers are facing a new set of challenges as they build their 2021 hotel programs," writes Kusto. "Even in this time of uncertainty, one thing is clear: You cannot do what you’ve always done. Now is the time to reset your program, rethink hotel category management and step away from the traditional RFP approach. This year, travel managers have a real opportunity to retake control of their hotel programs. They don’t need to (and shouldn’t) rely on hotels to drive savings for them. Active hotel category management has changed; it’s not just about sourcing anymore. Technological advancements have given us efficient ways to consistently monitor and optimize programs to avoid missing out on savings opportunities. And more importantly, to ensure you have competitive rates that drive traveler trust in your program. We don’t want to sell a product; we want to spark fundamental shifts in hotel category management. Every player in the travel ecosystem is facing these new challenges together—and most people involved in annual transient hotel RFPs will tell you the same thing—they take up too much time and effort. It’s time to come together as an industry and make some lasting changes, including leveraging OBT configurations and messaging to influence traveler behavior, normalizing non-traditional rate types, using rate targets instead of caps, and shifting to dynamic program management. Together we can drive greater savings and increased traveler satisfaction with significantly less effort."
The Blueprint For Omnichannel Success
"Business travel has been broken for a long time, but the pandemic clearly outlined those broken pieces. For decades, our industry has been managed by disparate systems, technologies and channels that do not connect. Corporations, business travelers and suppliers operate in disparate boxes—the TMC/OBT channel and the brand-dot-com channel, for example." In his proposed keynote, Marcus "will share a new way to connect and deliver seamless and collaborative integration by a travel omnichannel. Our approach will demonstrate how suppliers can work with clients across all channels, enabling corporations to increase compliance and control and drive additional profitability and customer loyalty." He will "provide a blueprint for integrating multiple service channels" that will "transform the business travel ecosystem and outline a new omnichannel travel opportunity that provides value for the corporate customers and efficiencies and profitability for the suppliers." Marcus adds: "Corporations are now demanding transparency in their processes, services and pricing. The current path to profit depends on logistical suppliers paying the platform, TMCs and OBTs, etc. to distribute their products. Each service's values get blurred quickly, and the companies and travelers pay the price for this through higher fees and costs. Now is the time we can build the ecosystem to enable a new value chain that is good for the corporation and clarity of service from the suppliers through new distribution models, clearer values and connected data. One perfect experience for the traveler, regardless of the service they are using. Suppliers and corporations have to be ready for these changes when travel ramps up again."
Thriving In The New World: Why Intelligent Offers Really Matter
Senior Vice President, Marketplace Segments
"Information, speed and agility are essential in a world of compounding choices and uncertainty," writes Mercer. "The need for normalized, flexible offers continues to grow based on evolving corporate travel policies and business demands, where consumer-grade personalization is well overdue. Over the years, suppliers have responded by creating new offers through branded fares, ancillaries and other bundles, and initiatives such as NDC and new storefronts or 'shelves' are establishing standards and protocols. The progress and prioritization of these initiatives are in flux as a result of Covid-19; however, their importance to the future of our industry is undeniable. The time is now to leverage technology as a force multiplier to deliver solutions beyond our current status quo—static, rules-based offers reliant on historical information and legacy systems." Mercer urges the industry to "come together to not only imagine the future possibilities, but deliver scalable, win/win next-gen solutions for all ecosystem stakeholders."
Half As Much, Twice As Scrutinized And Still Broken
Cornerstone Information Systems
Orrego poses a big question: How should the business travel industry operate "when the corporate buyer is buying less, the supplier has excess capacity, and the TMC model is in question?" His keynote pitch continues: "The pandemic has jolted the business travel industry to the core and exposed operational weaknesses foundational and critical to address as we recover. The trends have been clear for a while that we needed to automate everything from booking to expense management. The reality is that we still have a way to go to automate distribution and fulfillment operations so that they work and are cost-effective for the buyer. My talk will focus on the corporate buyer's need to maintain cost controls and governance when travel becomes more Selective, Valuable, Costly, Curated, Risky, and perhaps Rare. I will discuss how TMC operations will struggle to meet this diminished demand because of labor constraints, costly booking automation and a poorly funded supplier distribution model. Over the past 27 years, I have helped automate travel operations to continue serving the travel industry's most cherished institutions and their business models. The disconnect between the suppliers and their GDS distribution partners needs to provide a more cost-effective transaction. NDC is currently a self-servicing model that fails to differentiate and deliver value to the buyer and operational effectiveness. Objectively, I will share with the audience how we need to address these broken processes through business models that produce a tighter collaboration that matters holistically and meaningfully for all the parties."
A Reboot Of Business Travel
Executive Vice President of Business Travel and Americas Head
"To borrow a line from the great John Lennon, 'Nobody told us there’d be days like these.' Indeed, these are strange days for the travel industry, filled with unforeseeable challenges and unpredictable futures," writes Rajian. "But travel remains core to the human experience and a critical component of business success. So, as we anticipate an industry recovery, the question becomes: Where do we go from here?" He continues: "Since the best way to predict the future is to create it, we can rethink travel to accelerate the positive changes already underway. With the next normal of travel becoming even more technology-centric, I will share a vision for how we can collectively restore traveler confidence and accelerate recovery. Digital identities, robotics, movement tracking, biometrics, increased information requirements—all powered by technology—will become a normal part of future travel, just like removing our laptop from our carry-on luggage."
The Omnichannel Experience That Top Talent Deserves
"Frequent travelers often represent an organization’s top talent: Skilled communicators, relationship builders and deal closers. They are immensely loyal, giving their time and energy to fly across the world to deliver positive outcomes for their company. Sometimes business travel can be glamorous, but often it’s not. Business travelers spend weeks of their personal time traveling every year. For those planning travel during the pandemic, new health and safety-related risks are now also under consideration. At the very least, these high-value travelers should be able to buy, change and service their travel in a seamless and intuitive way, without jumping through hoops to do so." Reishus' keynote proposes to address the ways travel stakeholders "can deliver an omnichannel experience that these travelers deserve, and that builds positive brand sentiment and solidifies loyalty. From the underlying data that powers this experience, to sophisticated shopping interfaces and product availability, to customer service, [the keynote address] will describe some of today’s challenges and how the travel industry can go about solving them." Reishus argues that "travelers expect a seamless and comprehensive shopping and servicing experience." She notes that "in every other area of retail, they are met with intuitive, clear procedures for buying, exchanging or returning an order. The travel industry has many pain points throughout this process, as well as opportunities to improve upon it." Her keynote "will focus on big-picture concepts and industrywide vision. While omnichannel retailing and data are primary focuses of ARC’s business, this presentation will speak to what we are hearing from our customers in the industry—particularly in corporate travel—and what the industry as a whole can do to improve."
The Role Of Technology In Travel
Rizzo proposes to delve into "the role of technology in the travel industry both now and for the days and years ahead." Rizzo "will draw comparisons with tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Google to illustrate how businesses can stay relevant in turbulent environments. You’ll also hear predictions and some wild ideas for how tech might be used in travel in the future," as well as advice for "surviving in a downturn." Rizzo's keynote proposes to "speak from experience as a leader at companies like Oracle, Apple and Intel, and will focus on technology innovations, looking ahead and staying motivated through to our inevitable industry recovery."
The Delicate Dance Of Risk Management
Chief Risk and Security Officer
"Covid‐19 has opened a new level of concern for corporate travel, with companies scrambling to write policy, protect their travelers and get business done," according to Rose's pitch. "More than ever, the pandemic has impressed on businesses the need for solid tactics on keeping their travelers safe, moving beyond recent geopolitical concerns and into the intricate business of traveling during a novel disease we are still learning about." Rose notes that "risk management is a delicate dance involving travelers, businesses, legal experts and travel advisors," and his keynote proposes to review "a holistic approach to what some might consider a cut‐and‐dry topic." His "frank and engaging style makes the topic of managing travel in a pandemic and post‐Covid world accessible to the non‐expert and stimulating to the advanced travel manager."
Budget, Sustainability And Risk: Driving Business Travel In The New Normal
Vice President, Global Customer Solutions
FCM Travel Solutions
Rouse writes in: "The shift toward managing more complex and fragmented corporate travel programs wasn’t born of a global pandemic, instead it was propelled by it. With smaller budgets, tighter duty-of-care and safety guidelines, and a renewed focus on corporate and social responsibility driving business travel in the new normal, the ability to create a positive user experience that adheres to these new restrictions and requirements will be challenging. As we resume travel in the age of Covid-19, travel managers and corporations will need to navigate the key elements with respect to the future of corporate travel management." These are: Traveler Security/Risk. "Do my travelers feel safe about travel; are they being exposed to unnecessary risk; how do I ensure my travelers are informed; what corporate liability concerns are there?" Effective Budget Control. "How do I get the most out of a reduced travel budget; how can I measure return on travel spend; who should drive the balance between virtual and physical meeting attendance?" Environmental Sustainability: "How do I control the corporate carbon footprint without impacting business; how do I influence behavior; how can I implement a carbon budget?" Rouse's keynote "will explore how to effectively govern travel programs along these three axes while maintaining positive traveler uptake."
Change Like Your Life Depends On It… Because It Does
Formerly JTB Business Travel
"Business has become nearly non-existent," write Shravah, who recently departed JTB Business Travel where he served as general manager. "There is a silver lining in the middle of the pandemic—a second chance. It has never happened in our industry before and it probably never will again. But we have this one opportunity—a second chance. A second chance for what? To change. Change what? Everything." Shravah advocates for changing how industry players view their relevance "through the lens of a single transaction." He proposes change in business models: "The flow of revenue is wrong. We need to flip the model upside down." He urges change to "our mindset: We keep talking about the same topics for decades. The world has changed 100 times and the travel industry barely two times. The greatest limitation is our old way of thinking." Lastly, he advocates change for "the future," noting, "our industry is getting too old. We need to bring in a flurry of youth. Everyone needs to find their replacement. Quickly." Shravah adds, "We have to accept that this second chance is a golden opportunity to make our industry relevant. Let’s face it—when we say we are in the travel industry, people are not impressed to the likes of when people say Silicon Valley or a doctor or lawyer. Let’s change that." Shravah advocates for "a movement that embraces the future in a way that creates excitement and energy for those who are looking to make changes but are probably met with resistance."
How Do You Show Care In Uncertain Times?
Chief Customer Officer
"In such difficult times, I’ve had to ask myself: What can I do as a leader to make sure my team members feel cared for?" writes Taylor. Her keynote proposes to dig into "four guiding principles that have defined my role:" transparency; accessibility and compassion; communication; and appreciation. On transparency, she writes: "Communicate openly and regularly. It’s important to me to be open about decisions being made and commit to following up with key takeaways once those conversations have taken place." Regarding accessibility and compassion, she notes: "Show your team that you’re available to them. I give out my personal phone number, and I answer! Whether it’s members of my team, industry colleagues or customers, I truly mean it when I say that I’m here to listen and receive feedback. Be flexible enough to consider each person’s unique situation and knowledgeable enough to share helpful resources. I want everyone in my organization to feel like their needs are a priority for me." As for communication, she urges leaders to "communicate, communicate, communicate." And last, but not least, appreciation is essential: "Recognize team members for outstanding work. In the face of unparalleled circumstances, our team members have risen to care for our customers and each other. It’s more critical than ever to share those achievements with their peers and leaders." Taylor adds: "These actions go beyond any one company or even one industry and are a constant reminder to prioritize honesty and empathy in everything that we do. In order to effectively care for our customers and the audiences that we serve, we first have to go above and beyond to care for and support one another."
Finding The Why: A Pathway To Purposeful Travel
"Why do we travel for work? Pressure has never been higher to demonstrate why there is a need for business travel. Don’t you think we’ve become too focused on the journey and not the intention?—How to book? What to book? How much does it cost?" These, writes Virtue, "are all tactical, commoditized questions. It’s time to shift from the what and the how to the why—from reason to purpose." Virtue adds: "Successful companies will align travel purpose with culture and business goals, strategically manage travel using purpose as a catalyst to guide every aspect of their program and define their purpose for travel and achieve value for their investment." Virtue proposes to reveal the "purposeful travel" approach, which is "based on travel managers' insights, our clients and our knowledge," and will "shift from T&E as a cost to T&E as an asset." Her pitch concludes: "It’s time for our industry to reflect and rediscover why we do what we do. It’s time to find our purpose."
Unused Tickets: How To Go Forward
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Ward writes in: "In a year that continues to see uncertainty, where corporate travel came to a halt, what becomes of all the unused tickets? It will be an ongoing issue moving into 2021. Corporations will need help managing unused tickets. What is the best way? What parameters are there for the tickets? Who can use them and how?" In her keynote, Ward will help the audience learn "what has been done to date, where to find help and how to get ready for the resurgence that will inevitably be corporate travel. Yes, staying positive and knowing that it will happen!" She adds: "Duty of care is an equally important priority moving forward and will need to be addressed appropriately, along with how to manage unused tickets. It is imperative to have a complete strategy for corporates to reopen travel." Ward promises "an open dialogue that concentrates on education and helping audience members make sound decisions moving forward. Strategies will be discussed on how to handle the multitude of unused tickets, not putting a sales hat on. We all want our industry to flourish to previous heights, so helping and advising others is the goal."
Thanks to everyone who submitted a pitch. Now, the readers decide. Please vote here for your favorite.