Musings on a highway

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

When change happens, there are a myriad of ways in which people respond to it. Some embrace it, some push back, whilst others try to sprint ahead of it in an attempt to drive the next big thing. Which is why managing through an evolving environment is so challenging – no two people or organisations respond to it the same way.

One of the hardest things about transitioning from the old to the new is the way that you actually go about doing it. Over my 15 years in the travel industry, I would argue that there have been three major “delta points” as I call them whereby traditional travel methods or models underwent severe disruptive pressure: first was the advent of online booking tools in the early ‘00’s, next was the “distribution wars” of the late naughties when content and the cost of selling that content were all that everyone talked about, and now we’re in a period of “disruptive innovation” where non-traditional approaches are challenging how we plan, book and pay for travel.

As I travel the globe for ACTE and for my travel technology company I’m fortunate to be able to see across different countries, sectors and cultures how the latest round of new ideas for our industry are taking shape. Whether it’s the sharing economy, open booking, distribution models, ancillary fees, or any other “hot topics” that we’re all talking about, getting a chance to see these all in action in multiple settings is quite fascinating.

In watching the global march of innovators within this most recent delta point, one aspect which I find most compelling is how these new innovators are going about driving their agendas and plans. Sure it’s a subjective point, but during the previous two delta point periods I would argue that often times those that were attempting to lead the way were actually taking a “my way or the highway” approach. That is to say, “we believe our way is better, the industry should be better off for going this way, so we’re going to either get you on our highway or bypass you altogether.”

This most recent round of delta point innovators, however, have seemingly gained a lot more traction than those who went previously. I would attribute this traction to the idea that these most recent innovators have gone down a “my way is the highway” approach. Which basically is saying “we think we have a really good way to do this differently/faster/better, how about jumping on and giving it a go?”

It’s a subtle yet effective way of thinking about how to engender and entrench new ideas, and I would submit to anyone looking to try a new approach to consider it. If you really believe in what you’re doing is different, innovating and beneficial to all, it’s probably not going to take off by just telling other people that it is better, more innovative and more beneficial. Instead, perhaps try to find a way to get people to join you on your journey through sharing the experience, the risk, the reward and the satisfaction of trying something new. It may just create a whole new fast lane that everyone can get into!

Thanks for chattering.

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

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