Water, water everywhere in 2016

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

Following a supremely busy 2015 for ACTE, with over 75 events in 24 countries, it’s amazing to think that we are now already halfway through the 2nd decade of the 21st century. I would also argue that 5 years from now we will look back on 2015 and say “that’s when corporate travel changed forever.”

I recognise that I’ve been talking about this here on ACTEChatter (and it’s been in full dialogue at all our events for that matter) all year, but I think it’s now safe to be more definitive in saying 2015 will likely go down as the year in which corporate travel swung irreversibly towards the traveller experience as the dominant driver for our industry.

At the risk of crystal-balling this point, what’s becoming clear is that going forward the metrics of success will be equally if not more focused around traveller satisfaction, productivity on the road and value for money than procurement effectiveness, cost savings or reduction in expenditure.

Of course, business travel always must account for the financial, logistical and personal duty of care elements that are unique to the corporate road warrior. However, satisfying those requirements and providing a rewarding experience are now not mutually exclusive. Technology, mobility, connectivity, automation, rule-based workflows, logical applications of intelligent systems, and so forth, have all made what even just five years ago seem impossible…well, possible.

With this reduction in impossibility now comes the realisation that travellers can now take full control of their experiences whilst still satisfying their obligations as corporate citizens. What a time to be in corporate travel!

Following my previous posting about my way is the highway, there’s another way to look at all this rapid evolution. At a recent industry event, during a robust dialogue about the collaborative economy, shifting distribution strategies, the power of travellers and the new entrants starting to shake up the industry, I likened all this activity to water flowing downhill.

In the past, attempts to shake things up often resulted in the new ideas being blocked or dammed up like so much water in a reservoir. Long-standing business models, entrenched technologies or familiar processes and methodologies would try to corral or control new ideas rather than let them proliferate. Now however, new ideas are finding ways around these obstacles, in ways that are much more collaborative, welcoming and fluid.

Gone is the effectiveness of established positions holding new ideas back – they just find an audience willing to give them a try and then tell the world how good they are. They go around obstacles rather than be held back by them or try to break through them. Their efforts are put into gaining validation and others willing to give them access to markets, customers or users which is helping them flow into the mainstream much more quickly than many thought possible. Fluidity is in, rigidity is so….2015, shall we say?

Speaking of 2015, I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting ACTEChatter this year and look forward to further dialogue with everyone in 2016 and beyond. Wishing all ACTE members, sponsors, friends and colleagues and your families all the best for this holiday season, and here’s to a very exciting and progressive year next year!

See you at an ACTE event in 2016. Thanks for chattering.

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives


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