Let’s be clear: traveller centricity ≠ carte blanche

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by: Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

Throughout 2015, at over 70 corporate travel events all around the world, ACTE is highlighting the rise of traveller centricity in corporate travel programs and talking more and more about what it’s all about. And interestingly enough, although nearly everyone is in agreement that focusing on the traveller is a critical part of any modern travel program, there’s a varying degree of understanding on what we at ACTE believe traveller centricity is all about.

So…let’s be clear first of all what traveller centricity IS:

– It is a conscious recognition, brought out in services, programs, communications and engagement models, that a corporate travel program is all about ensuring maximum benefit for the time and effort spent by employees on the road;

– It is balancing between the price paid by the company for travel services with the personal impact that business travel has on the individual;

– It is the attempt to harness the immense power of technology, social media and mobility for the overall good of the travel experience whilst maintaining a corporate’s accountability and responsibility to their travellers;

– It is the reason why we are starting to see companies re-considering where travel management sits in their organizations – moving back into HR/people services and away from procurement and/or finance.

Now, let’s also clarify what traveller centricity is NOT:

– A license to abandon all efforts to leverage company-negotiated supplier agreements;

– A free ticket to open booking/online only booking/unmanaged travel/insert buzzword here;

– Allowing travellers to ignore the company’s desire to maintain a degree of discipline, oversight and direct management of how they travel and who they travel with;

– A challenge to the significant value and cost savings that well-developed procurement and financially-oriented travel buying strategies can deliver;

– The end of the world as we know it.

On the contrary, and in speaking to travel buyers and suppliers all around the world, the rise of traveller centricity is a wonderful trend which brings a great deal of excitement and change to our industry. As discussed in an earlier ACTEChatter posting, there is a clear recognition that travel programs must adapt to the demands that travellers are putting on traditional travel management techniques and strategies. And to help the industry adapt swiftly, ACTE has assembled a Working Group on traveller centricity which has been doing some fantastic analysis and evaluation of traveller centricity’s impact on our industry and which will continue to feature at upcoming ACTE events.

As example, the Working Group recently conducted a poll across 210 travel buyers, which had some interesting results:

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(click on the image if it does not appear full size in your browser)

The encouraging thing from this poll is that there are lots of different ways that companies are thinking about traveller centricity, and travel managers are, in large part, taking the opportunity to evolve into a whole new approach to travel management which is better for everyone – the company and the traveler included. That being said, just over a tenth of buyers probably need to come to our next ACTE event to learn about traveller centricity in more detail!

So – all clear?

Thanks for chattering!

Your traveller-centric colleague,

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives


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