Business Travel Travel Management

Christopherson and Domo Partnership

At Christopherson, we’ve built a reputation of being the most innovative, technologically-savvy TMC in the industry. Whether we build it ourselves or integrate with other cutting-edge companies, we are committed to being the first in travel technology and a leader in delivering our clients digital tools to solve their problems. Which is why we are excited to announce our latest solution for busy companies and their employees. Christopherson Business Travel and Domo, a business analytics company, have paired up to streamline travel management data. Using Domo’s ability to quickly turn data into insights, and our technology suite to enhance your travel program, we’re again the first to bring unparalleled service to business travel.

Christopherson and Domo—bringing two leaders together

Domo connects directly to any source of data to streamline its reporting. It can combine, cleanse, and transform data in a flash, uncovering insights in just a few clicks. It allows users to visualize and share data across your organization with ease.

Christopherson and Domo have a multifaceted relationship. We have been using Domo to provide actionable insights for our own business for four years. And we are Domo’s premier travel management company. With a symbiotic relationship like ours, it was only inevitable that we would build something great together.

As the first travel management app developer within their ecosystem, the possibilities to integrate were intriguing. Domo and our travel management software, AirPortal, now integrate at ten different data sources. These ten Domo data connectors help us to gain valuable insight and answer questions with intuitive data exploration and filtering. Our account managers receive alerts when a client’s travel spend makes a significant change, up or down. Our sales team and our OPs managers are also able to make smarter, faster decisions to improve their business results.

Introducing our Domo-Partnered Apps:

We’re excited about our three new Domo Partner apps that will be released at the Global Business Travel Association Convention this week. The first in an ongoing series of apps, they pinpoint managed travel frustrations and easily finds solutions.

Travel Leakage Analyzer

This app provides insight into travel spend, revealing pieces previously hidden.  It integrates directly to a feed from a our Airportal, a general ledger, or Concur Expense, and compares it to bookings made through Christopherson. From there it analyzes travel compliance, and more importantly, finds non-compliance. The drill down functionality also allows you to be as granular as needed. With this tool, you can understand your entire picture of compliance, and know where to start to change it around.

Travel Map Insights

With this app you can effectively determine the best locations for future hotel RFPs, based upon a real time data. By looking at hotel locations, total room nights, average daily rate and total spend, your travel manager can make a more informed decision to future vendor negations. Travel managers will be able to easily see and sort the data to make better decisions.


This is a set of apps offering powerful analytics tools to travel managers. It accesses their data in real-time, making it fast and simple to gleen powerful insights for travel executives and managers.

The Christopherson and Domo Relationship

Premiering at GBTA, this is just the first of an exciting future for powerful and real-time solutions in the travel management industry. With our powerful travel technology suite, coupled with Domo’s cloud-based analysis system, the potential to revolutionize travel management headaches are endless. If you are attending the GBTA convention in Boston this week, we invite you to join us at booth 1175. We will be demo-ing our  integrated apps with Domo, as well as exciting updates to our AirPortal 360 suite. Hope to see you there!

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Marketing for Businesses: Knowing What People Want

Effective marketing is an important part of any business. Even if you’re company provides the best product or service, you still need some level of marketing to inform potential buyers. I was fortunate enough to hear Kelly McDonald, of McDonald Marketing, speak on  marketing in today’s changing environment. A published author and internationally recognized expert, I was excited to understand modern day marketing trends and learn tips for my own company.

Eight things to consider while marketing your business:

1. Identify what people want, and then give it to them

  • Listen, listen, listen
  • An example is the success of Target’s strategy compared to KMart’s strategy

2. Tap into values

  • Support locally owned business, source locally
  • Publish testimonials and reviews online
  • Go green
  • Be the good guys, doing good is the new cool

3. Foster a culture of empathy

  • Hire the right person, not the resume
  • Many jobs are teachable jobs
  • “Awesomeness” follows the person
  • Awesome people are not defensive when things go wrong

4. Recognize different needs for different markets

  • Burger King serves breakfast on bagels in New York City and on biscuits in Birmingham, Alabama

5. Use consumer insights

  • Sell your cause
  • Women typically value expansive choices
  • While men prefer the “magic number” of three choices

6. Pay attention to trends, not fads

  • Mass is out, customization is in
  • McDonalds has kiosks to customize your order
  • Coke started putting personal names on bottles
  • Social is everything

7. Show people as they really are

  • Show real people in ads, not photo stock models
  • People respond to those they can relate to

8. Helping Beats Selling

  • We don’t need anymore “information”. We need “advice.”
  • Provide solutions and help them

Overall, I was reminded that most people already know what they want. They are just looking for the right company to fill those needs. By being honest, transparent, and easily accessible, you can gain the trust of your audience.

Read next:

Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Air Lines Continues To Innovate

Here at Christopherson Business Travel, we’re pretty big fans of Delta Air Lines. Their continual innovation and commitment to fliers is inspiring. Earlier this year, our management team had an opportunity to hear some of Delta’s top leaders speak. One of those industry leaders was Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer of Delta.  With a company that is consistently pioneering, we valued the opportunity to understand the message behind the brand.

How Delta continually innovates

During the meeting, Mapes said, “If the world is changing faster on the outside than you’re changing on the inside, then your company is dying”.  Sound business advice, it dawned on me how hard Delta strives to be on the cutting edge.  For example, their revolutionary new baggage ticketing system released this year. Or how their Gift Back Project cultivated altruism by recognizing selfless individuals. Mapes also explained the three pillars of their brand:

  • Thoughtful ? Always be warm and caring.
  • Reliable ? Get our passengers home on-time, safely, and with their bags.
  • Innovative ? Strive to be the first in the industry to make a change, and then continually innovate.

Delta Air Lines continues to deliver on their reliability brand promise. Their hard work and dedication lead to great accolades. For example, this November Delta was named the most punctual airline in North America. Hearing Mapes speak about the foundation of the Delta brand and recognize it in their recent updates was inspiring.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We help busy companies book, manage, and expense their business travel, so they can get back to what’s important to them. Contact us if you are interested in learning how we can simplify your company’s travel.



Travel Industry Travel News

Update on the New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal

The long awaited building of the new Salt Lake City international airport terminal is finally making some noticeable progress.  Residents and travelers can see the change in the roadway used to enter and exit the airport. This project is a very complex undertaking, with a price tag of $1.8 billion, but the end result will be worth the effort.

New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminal

Salt Lake City International Airport serves nearly 23 million passengers a year. The current facilities were built 30-50 years ago, and designed to serve only half as many travelers. SLC International Airport has grown into a major hub airport in the western U.S. With flights often leaving and arriving at the same time, security protocols need to updated to accommodate these changes as well. Buildings also need to meet current earthquake-safety standards.

Some key features of the new design:

  • Single, three-level terminal
  • One linear concourse
  • Gateway center
  • New parking garage
  • New support facilities

We applaud Delta Air Lines for their commitment to Salt Lake City and their willingness to be the anchor tenant in the new facility. Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, was recently in Salt Lake City and shared a positive outlook about their commitment to the SLC hub. From a Salt Lake City Tribune article, Bastian said, “It’s a great destination market. And as we rebuild the airport here, there’s going to be even more opportunity down the road”.

Fro those eager to see the new terminal built, their SLC Airport provides consistently updated information and pictures. See their conceptual renderings, photos (including demolition), and other highlights. 

Christopherson Business Travel is a national corporate travel management company with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Privately owned for more than 60 years, we are passionate about providing travel solutions for busy professionals. Please contact our sales team if you have questions about our unique services.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Professional Tip: Make a Difference That People Love

I recently attended a presentation by the author David Sturt, who spoke on the subject of creating great work as opposed to good work. David Sturt is an executive vice president of the O.C. Tanner Institute and author of The New York Times best-selling book, Great Work. This difference between good and great work is how people make a difference others love. He focused on how inspired employees rise above and contribute more than expected.

Though Sturt’s career began in market research, he enlisted two PhDs from Harvard and Cambridge to help him design a research study for the book. They first reviewed 10,000 samples of award-winning work. To gain further insight into what makes work great, rather than just good, they also conducted 200 one-on-one interviews. In the process, patterns that influenced the great work emerged and they organized them into five consistent skills. He summarized the common success factors into the following five skills:

Common Success Factors For Great Work

  • Ask The Right Questions

    • Great work begins when we ask the right people what they would love.
    • Think about the people your work serves; customers, team members and partners.
    • Ponder improvements with the recipients in mind.
    • Learn how to ask the right questions:
      • Pause before you begin
      • Consider who your work serves
      • Ask the questions to those who your work benefits
  • See For Yourself

    • Difference makers get out of their own bubble and look with their own eyes:
      • They observe everything and everyone affected by their work.
      • Difference makers watch what people do to see how people experience their work.
      • They look at the process to find out what’s working and what’s not.
  • Talk To Your Outer Circle

    • You won’t get any new ideas if you always talk to your inner circle. Your inner circle is always in a bubble. They are a lot like you.
    • Collect ideas and seek points of clarification from others.
    • All of the best thinking comes from the thinking of your outer circle.
  • Improve The Mix

    • Find out what you need to add and subtract to optimize the work or product.
    • Add what is missing and subtract what is not needed.
    • Look at things that people don’t like; imagine ways to reduce and simplify.
    • Bring old things together in new ways.
  • Deliver The Difference

    • Good workers stop when they feel like the work is good enough; great workers are obsessed with sticking with it until people love it.
    • The real value is created after the feedback from those who benefit from your work begins.
    • Insist on knowing what worked and why; stay with it relentlessly until people love it.
    • Create great work that inspires others; become a catalyst for great work.

The takeaway from his presentation and book is clear – everyone is capable of great work. They just need the environment and skills to ideate, innovate and deliver their product.  If you are looking to be inspired, or create passion in your workplace, I recommend this book.

Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. We are proud to be independently-owned, with more that 300 employees nationawide. Learn more about our own company philosophy or our unique travel management services.

Travel Management Travel Technology

Corporate Travel Programs Need Actionable Intelligence

actionable intelligenceAt the beginning of 2016, Christopherson Business Travel announced that we’ll begin transitioning our integrated business travel management software platform, AirPortal®,from providing “business intelligence” to “actionable intelligence.”

To this end, we built our 2016-2017 technology roadmap to support this improved strategy. We have more than 40 technology projects in the pipeline, half of which are to enhance existing business travel technologies, while the other half will provide new solutions to other business travel management problems. Many of these projects will be completed for our major AirPortal technology release scheduled for July of this year.

The use of Big Data has been evolving for many years from data capture, to data analytics, to data visualization, to business intelligence. The next logical step is to convert business intelligence to become actionable intelligence. Author and educator Keith B. Carter wrote the following in his book Actionable Intelligence:

“Leaders from all industries yearn for more information. They want to be able to assess risks and opportunities quickly and efficiently. They want answers in enough time to be able to make a difference. They want to seize opportunities. They need intelligence that is in time and accurate. They want… actionable intelligence.”

Hotel Attachment. Hotel Attachment tracks travel itineraries with missing hotel reservations and assists business travelers by providing clear options to match their needs and complete their itinerary prior to their business trip

As the CEO of Christopherson, I was recently interviewed by Skift, a media group that provides news and insights on the travel industry, and shared additionalthoughts about actionable intelligence:

“The problem with business intelligence is [that while] it’s very interesting and it’s useful … it’s backwards looking, so all of the new stuff that we’re building, we’re building with a more actionable forward-looking lens … We’re building a work-to-zero task manager for our travel managers that shows them in an actionable way all of the pending things that they need to do.”

Business Travel Travel Industry

Six Lessons on Innovation From the Wright Brothers

Evolution of business travelAll of us who benefit from airline travel owe the Wright brothers a debt of gratitude as the aviation pioneers credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful powered airplane and making the first sustained flight on December 17, 1903.

In his book The Wright Brothers, David McCullough writes that many of the “most prominent engineers, scientists, and original thinkers of the nineteenth century had been working on the problem of controlled flight,” without success.

Orville Wright is quoted as saying, “The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”

Forbes magazine recently published an article summarizing McCullough’s book by sharing “Six Lessons on Innovations From the Wright Brothers.”

Lesson one is how they kept going despite their failures. Additionally, they taught us how to take risks and still avoid total disaster. Most importantly however, the Wright brothers taught us to test, iterate, and continue to test prototypes, until you build something of value that the world needs–even if the world doesn’t recognize it yet.

To read Forbes’ article and learn more from the Wright brothers, click here.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Leadership, Influence, and Willing Followers

what_makes_a_leaderAs we enter the New Year, it’s always good to reflect upon how we lead, if we really do lead, and what influences us to follow others.

We can all be leaders and influence others. A formal title does not guarantee that anyone will have willing followers. As I read what others have to say on this topic many interesting ideas have been proposed. I’ll share a few that were worthwhile to me.

Dr. Travis Bradbury wrote an article “What Makes a Leader?” referencing a quote from John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” This seems like a good test to determine leadership effectiveness. Bradbury later clarifies what leadership is not and points out that “You can be a leader in your workplace, your neighborhood, or your family, all without having a title.” He also outlines that leadership and management are not synonymous. Managers spend most of their time managing things; leaders lead people. He states: “Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.”

Another good article that really simplifies things is “The Single Leadership Trait That Adds the Most Value to Companies,” written by Aaron Webber. While it may seem a bit simplistic, I thought his ideas had merit. He proposes that “The single most important leadership attribute is constancy, or consistency.” It makes a bit more sense when he explains, “Being consistent in terms of who you are and the theme of principal-based direction you provide is absolutely critical to leadership, or else people will disengage.” He continues, “People need to be able to count on who you are and the principles you are driven by.”

Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts from Lolly Daskal’s blog post “Become the Leader Worth Following.” Daskal proposes that, “Examples of leaders are everywhere. Many are powerful, many are popular, but few are worthy of being followed … They are the people we count on. They are the ones we want to follow without being told.” She concludes with this: “Leadership is a privilege, and making yourself worthy of being followed comes with great responsibility.”

I hope that in 2016 we will all be more introspective and ask ourselves if our actions are inspiring people to become more. Can they count on us? And are we worthy of being followed?


Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Management

“The Handshake” and Communication Protocols for Better Business

handshake communication for business travelAll communication between computers requires that the devices agree on the format of the data. The parameters of a communications channel must be established before the digital “handshake” will allow the communication to begin.

All communication between humans also requires that both parties agree on the parameters of the communication before they meet–shall we use digital, telephone, or a physical handshake for this meeting?

In 1889 Jules Verne imagined that the “phonotelephote” would replace the need for physical handshakes. This is no longer science fiction. All of us are now inundated with email, text messages, and WebEx meetings. And yes, we still use the old-fashioned telephone too. But according to a recent article in The Economist, “Companies are spending more on sending their staff out to win deals.”

At Christopherson Business Travel, we’re seeing the same trend, with our airline bookings up 13% year-over-year. While some of this growth is from new clients, much of it is coming from existing clients who are sending their people out to meet face-to-face, shake hands, build relationships, and win deals.

Whenever we experience a poor-quality internal conference call, we remind ourselves it’s a good thing that people need to see each other face-to-face in order to obtain greater effectiveness. After all, that’s the business we’re in. For more than 60 years, we’ve been providing companies of all sizes across the globe with cost-effective, personalized, and hassle-free business travel management and resources. Plus, our exclusive AirPortal® travel technology applications are the only tools you’ll ever need to manage your business trips.

If you’re looking for better business travel management so that you and your team can extend more than a virtual handshake to your clients, our executives would be happy and share more information about our services and technology.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Uber, Free Enterprise, and America

As a frequent business traveler, I spend more time than I would prefer in taxis, Uber cars, and other forms of transportation. But one of my favorite things to do in these situations, is to “interview” the drivers and hear their stories–as most of their stories are interesting.

Last week, I was in Chicago where I spent an hour with Uber driver, “Dervish.” My motivation for the “interview” was to learn from someone working directly in the so-called disruptive “sharing economy,” and also to simply get to know him.

This is Dervish’s story.

Fifteen years ago, Dervish and his wife, along with their two sons, were living in their home country of Albania when he applied for immigration to the United States. With a crackle in his voice, he told me about the day he received the letter from the United States of America granting his request.

When he and his family arrived in the States, he started out working in a factory in Chicago making $6.00 an hour, but soon got a job with a limo company and increased his earnings.

A few years ago he was able to buy an Uber car and he now “runs his own business.” His wife “works for an electronic engineering company” and his two boys have graduated from college, both with masters degrees. They too have good jobs.

Throughout the entire story, he kept repeating versions of, “This is the best country in the world. There is no other place where my family could have had the opportunities we have had.” He told me that most of his extended family and relatives still live in Albania. Most of them struggle to “get by.” None of them want to take the risk he took 15 years ago.

We arrived at the hotel at about 6:00 p.m. and I asked him if I would be his last ride. He said, “No. Business is good tonight. I’m going to keep working.” He then hustled back to get my luggage out of his trunk, shook my hand, looked me in the eye, thanked me for my business and said, “I’m going to give you a Five-Star Uber rating. I hope you do the same for me.”

Business Travel Travel Technology

Business Travel and the Digital Revolution

Mobile access to your travel management program is an essential part of the relationship you have with your travel management company.

I recently had an opportunity to participate on a panel with three other travel industry executives at The Beat Live in Washington D.C. The panel topic was “We Want Mobile And We Want It Yesterday.”

Participating on this panel caused me to reflect upon how mobile travel services have evolved quickly over the past few years, and how Christopherson Business Travel has participated in the overall digital revolution, which essentially started about 15 short years ago.

As the Internet, smart phones, and tablets have evolved, we asked ourselves these questions over time:

  1. Should we build a website for people to learn about us and contact us?
  2. Should we offer an online booking tool so our clients can book their own travel with us?
  3. Should we enhance our website to enable our clients to login and do business with us?
  4. Should we offer a mobile app to our travelers so they can access their travel plans and alert them about flight delays, gate changes and more?
  5. Should we expand our software development team to build a comprehensive proprietary travel management platform?
  6. Should we build our own iOS and Android mobile apps so our travel managers can do their job remotely?
  7. Should we make our entire technology platform “mobile responsive” so our clients can interact with us digitally anywhere, anytime, using any device?

Our answer was “yes” to each of these questions as we evolved and adapted to the digital revolution.

We have delivered mobile solutions with a combination of buying, building, and partnering, for example:

  • We bought the Concur Mobile App. We offer this booking app and Concur’s related expense app to our clients.
  • We built AirPortal 360 Mobile™. This mobile app was built specifically for the Travel Manager.
  • We partnered with TripIt. This app provides our travelers with a mobile app that gives them access to their itineraries. We were the first TMC to partner with TripIt in 2010.

AirPortal 360 Mobile delivers all the essential tools travel managers need to maintain their duty of care responsibilities, keep track of travelers and itineraries, approve travel, access and manage traveler profiles, ensure policy compliance, and more—anywhere, anytime.

Mobile access to your travel management program is an essential part of the relationship you have with your travel management company.

Business Travel Travel Technology

The Hotel Attachment Problem

Hotel Attachment
Hotel Attachment, Christopherson’s new hotel compliance system, assists travel managers in fulfilling duty of care responsibilities and commitments to contracted vendors.

The Beat’s Editor-in-Chief, Jay Boehmer, recently reported on Christopherson Business Travel’s new hotel compliance system, Hotel Attachment. The article and its title, “Christopherson Thinks It Has Solved The Hotel Attachment Problem,” were bold and certainly provocative. I’m not surprised that some responses were somewhere between curious and even incredulous.

Our view is that a low hotel attachment rate is not a simple problem to solve. There are many complex reasons as to why hotel attachment rates are low. Christopherson decided to take a holistic approach to the solving the problem.

At a high-level, there are likely four main reasons a client would book airfare but not book a hotel at the same time:

  1. They need a hotel and simply haven’t gotten around to booking it yet.
  2. They need a hotel and don’t have enough information about their trip to book it yet.
  3. They plan to book their hotel through a different channel, or it was booked for them.
  4. They actually don’t need a hotel.

Of course, there are many nuances within those four categories. For example, under reason No. 3, the traveler may have booked their room “out of channel” because:

  • They were part of a group who booked the hotel room block separately.
  • They’re attending a conference or a meeting that included the hotel booking.
  • They were not able to get the hotel inventory through the GDS-powered booking option.
  • They were able to get a lower price using a different booking method.
  • They have a personal preference for booking their own hotel (better user experience).

But ultimately, it’s not good for a traveler to have an incomplete itinerary with no hotel data included. Our goal was to first, identify which of the four reasons a traveler didn’t book a hotel and then provide them with a simple, digital path to help them easily complete their itinerary and solve the problem. Our technology platform, AirPortal®, supports and powers the Hotel Attachment system and provides us with enough unique information about the traveler, the company they work for, and their specific airline booking to simplify that process.

As clients begin to use our solution, we will be able to track why travelers haven’t booked their hotel initially and gather data on how we solved the problem. This will give our travel managers business intelligence metrics to increase their hotel attachment rates, provide better duty of care, and give them better negotiating power with their preferred vendors.

Our solution is much more than a marketing email.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Offers a Solution to Low Hotel Attachment Rates

Hotel AttachmentTravel managers and TMCs have always struggled with low hotel attachment rates, which the industry estimates to be less than 50%. This is problematic because the results of low hotel attachment rates are incomplete travel itineraries, weakened vendor negotiations, and compromised duty of care.

Christopherson Business Travel introduced a holistic solution to the problem at the 2015 GBTA Convention in Orlando, Florida–Hotel Attachment.

Hotel Attachment, a hotel compliance system, meets the needs of the travelers who want an acceptable hotel included in every itinerary. It also meets the needs of travel managers who want savings, knowledge of where travelers are in order to fulfill duty of care responsibilities, and the ability to satisfy the company’s commitments with contracted hotel vendors.

Hotel Attachment identifies itineraries with missing hotel bookings and provides the traveler with four options to close that gap:

1. Make a hotel reservation

  • For agent bookings – traveler is presented  with a form that connects to their booking agent
  • For online bookings – refers the traveler back to their online booking tool

2. Request another reminder for a later date

  • Presents a calendar to select date of next reminder

3. Attach a hotel reservation made outside the system to the itinerary

  • Pre-populates dates in a template based upon air reservation
  • Presents a map to zoom in a locate their hotel
  • Connects to Christopherson’s proprietary database to ensure correct hotel and GPS location coordinates

4. Waive the need for a hotel reservation

  • Requires an explanation as to how they’re meeting their housing needs

With Hotel Attachment’s digital reminders, companies can ensure trip plans are complete and hotel compliant prior to travel.

Business Travel Travel Industry

Christopherson Business Travel: 2014 in Review

Growth-ArrowIn 2010, Christopherson Business Travel’s executive team set a goal to double in size—from a $240 million company to a $500 million company—by 2015. One year early, we have reached that goal, booking $510 million in travel during 2014.

2014 Was A Year of Big Growth

  • We increased our sales from $384 Million in 2013 to $510 million in 2014–a 33% increase.
  • We implemented 84 new corporate clients last year. We now manage travel for more than 900 companies and organizations across the country.
  • We added 40 new team members, bringing the total number of travel professionals employed with Christopherson to 365.
  • We built 136 new Concur booking sites for both new and existing clients.

Christopherson’s Plans for 2015

In 2015, we plan to leverage the benefits of our larger scale and resources in the following ways:

Strengthen our Operational Excellence

  • We will review, evaluate, and combine the best practices from each of our five offices.
  • We will build a better disaster-recovery plan into our expanded geographical footprint.

Continue to Invest in Unique AirPortal® Technologies

  • We will invest in a UI/UX makeover and responsive design for our AirPortal platform.
  • We will invest in new, revolutionary technology that is useful, elegant, and intuitive.

Increase AirPortal Adoption

  • We will continue to listen, prioritize, and act upon feedback from our clients.
  • We will provide more training to a “higher, wider, deeper” group of client users.

Screen shot 2015-02-02 at 5.05.11 PM

Business Travel Travel News

Dubai: The Fastest Growing City

3I recently had the opportunity to travel to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to attend the Virtuoso Chairman’s Event. The UAE was established as a country in 1971 and is located in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf.

Dubai has undergone a rapid transformation—from a desert located, pearl-diving culture, to one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Today, Dubai is a tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services hub and has become a world-class cosmopolitan city.

The city has become famous for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai’s oil revenue accelerated the early development of the city, but its reserves are limited today. Less than 5% of their revenue comes from oil.

While they are famous for their “over the top” buildings and tourist attractions, the thing that most impressed me was the vision the city’s leaders had to invest their oil windfall in building their future.

Forbes Magazine said this about Dubai: “The recipe for success is not complex: rule of law, free trade, low taxes, business-friendly regulations, free movement of people and capital, no tolerance for corruption, physical safety, and security of property. That’s it.”

Dubai’s ruler was quoted to have said: “When the oil runs out will we be clapping or crying?” He wanted to invest the money in a way that they would be “clapping.” This is a stark contrast to some of their neighbors in the region who have squandered their oil revenue on terrorism and other things that will not build a future for their people.

Business and Leadership Travel Industry Travel News

Lose fears, take risks, and be more genuine, says Virtuoso Travel Week Keynote Speaker, Patrick Lencioni

Virtuoso Travel Week opening session at the Bellagio
Virtuoso Travel Week opening session at the Bellagio

I recently had the opportunity to listen to author and consultant Patrick Lencioni–whose book, Death by Meeting, I had previously read–at the Virtuoso Travel Week convention at the Bellagio Hotel.

In his remarks, he shared how to take our relationships with our clients to a higher level of value by losing our fears, taking risks, and being more genuine. His thesis is that this approach will build stronger relationships that can lead to much bigger rewards. He calls the approach “getting naked.”

At its core, “naked service” is the ability of a service provider to be vulnerable, to embrace humility, selflessness, and transparency for the good of a client.

He explained that most of us live our lives trying to avoid awkward and painful situations, which is why we are all susceptible to the three fears that sabotage client loyalty. He defined them as follows:

Kirsten Little, Manager of Andavo and Mike Cameron, President of Andavo & Christopherson Business Travel

Fear of Losing the Business – Worrying about losing a client’s business may cause service providers to avoid doing or saying the things that could create strong trust and loyalty. He recommends that you be honest, that you “tell the kind truths,” and that you “consult” instead of “sell.”

Fear of Being Embarrassed – Rooted in pride, this fear can lead service providers to withhold their best ideas from clients. He recommends that we go ahead and ask our “dumb questions” and make our “dumb suggestions.” Don’t be afraid of them. Playing it safe can eliminate your relevance.

Fear of Feeling Inferior – To avoid feeling irrelevant, service providers try to achieve a high level of importance in their clients’ minds. He recommends that we don’t be afraid to do the “dirty work.” Make everything about your client, they will appreciate the small things you do and will see you as being invaluable.

As a business travel agency, we plan to take these tips to heart in our dealings with our clients.

Business and Leadership

Twitter’s Biz Stone Talks About How He Defines Success

Twitter’s Biz Stone, image source: GBTA

I recently heard Biz Stone, the co-founder and co-inventor of Twitter who also helped create and launch Xanga and Blogger, speak at the GBTA Convention in Los Angeles. In his remarks, he shared the story behind the idea and invention of Twitter. He also shared some of his insights into how he defines success. I took the following notes:

  • First, it must be fun before it can be important.
  • Twitter is not a triumph of technology. It’s a triumph of humanity.
  • Opportunity can be manufactured.
  • Creativity is a renewable resource.
  • To succeed spectacularly you need to be willing to fail spectacularly.
  • Altruism is important, be willing to help other people.
  • Get started helping others early. There is a compounding impact in helping others. Time matters.
  • A lot of the improvements made at Twitter came from watching how people used our software.
  • My hope is that all of this hyper-connectivity will create more empathy in the world.

Speaking of Twitter, you can follow Christopherson Business Travel’s feed here.


Travel Industry Travel News

Groundbreaking Held for Salt Lake International Airport’s New Terminal Project

Salt Lake City International Airport

The groundbreaking ceremony for Salt Lake International Airport’s new terminal was held last month on July 18. According to the press release, the 8-10 year construction plan will result in a new terminal and associated facilities at Salt Lake City International Airport.

“A single terminal will be built southwest of the existing terminal complex, featuring dual level access, new parking, and more spacious, modernized facilities,” the press release stated. “It is anticipated that the terminal will be completed in 2019.”

The $1.8 billion project will transform Salt Lake City International Airport into one of the nation’s most efficient airports. A more efficient Delta hub will also help drive Salt Lake City’s economic development.

A rendering of what the new airport will look like can be seen here.

Highlights of the new airport facility can be seen here.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

The Big Shift – What Leaders Must Know About The New Economy

I recently attended the Virtuoso Symposium in Berlin, Germany. One of the keynote speakers was Nancy Giordano, CEO and Brand Futurist at Play Big Inc.

Nancy shared some insights about the new economy and what we need to do in order to be successful in the future. At a high level she talked about “big shifts” or radical changes in technology, economics, culture, and values.

Screen shot 2014-06-02 at 8.02.12 AM

The essence of her remarks was that there is a “Big Shift” occurring—the world is in transition. As leaders, we need to translate this into what we need to do differently in order to remain relevant.

One of the things she mentioned is the need for companies to have a “User Experience (UX)” designer to help improve the user interface of their technology. She explained, “We must improve and simplify the user experience. At the center of a great UX designer is empathy. They need to ask what does the customer need and want. How do we look at the world through their eyes, not ours?”

We are in the process of doing this at Christopherson Business Travel with our AirPortal 360® travel management platform. We are reviewing all of our technology to ensure we are making relevant products that matter, with an elegant design, and an intuitive user experience. We look at everything we build with a “mobile first” attitude, understanding the need for a simplified experience. We plan to make “the big shift” and we can’t wait to show you the improvements.

Nancy concluded with this: “The future offers unprecedented possibilities. And it will be very bright for those ready to embrace these shifts and the invitation they extend to consider what you are in a unique position to contribute, commit, collaborate and courageously create. The future is asking you to play big! Please.”

Business Travel

Christopherson’s Newly Acquired All Seasons Travel Undergoes Rebranding

Christopherson Business Travel purchased All Seasons Travel in December of last year. As we continue to integrate our new Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama offices into our organization, we will be rebranding the Alabama operations into three separate divisions:

1. Christopherson Business Travel

CBT_SmallThe Alabama business travel team members will all operate under our Christopherson Business Travel brand, with Jeanine Eissler as the manager of the Southeast region. We have already won $20 Million in new business travel contracts in the Southeast, all of which is in the process of being implemented into our Alabama offices.

2. Andavo Travel

Andavo Logo_335x60The leisure travel agents and independent contractors will operate under our Andavo Travel brand (which specializes in luxury travel and hosted agent travel), with Meredith Price as the operations manager of the Southeast region. Our Alabama offices will also be part of Andavo’s world-class luxury travel consortium, Virtuoso.

3. All Seasons Sports Travel

AllSeasonsSportsTravel_Logo-v2All Seasons Sports Travel is a newly created division and will primarily focus on the fan-based collegiate sports travel that All Seasons has done so well for so many years. Ellen Ray has been named manager of this division. Click here to see the new website,


Business Travel

Driving Loyalty: Turning Every Customer and Employee into a Raving Fan for Your Brand

book-img21I had the privilege of hearing Ron Cerko, Vice President of Travel Industry Relations for Enterprise Holdings, speak at the BCD Affiliates annual sales and account management meeting, held at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia last month.

In his remarks, Ron referred to Driving Loyalty, by Kirk Kazanjian. The book, though written about the National Enterprise Rent-a-Car story, teaches how any business can be successful through brand loyalty. Some of the highlights Ron pointed out included:

  • Think differently!
  • Meet an overlooked need in the marketplace
  • Find and serve a specific un-crowded niche
  • Take care of your customers and employees first–the profits will follow
  • Be ready to seize an opportunity when it strikes
  • Be the best company your clients have ever done business with
  • 68% of lost customers leave because they had poor customer service
  • Deliver dazzling service

At Christopherson Business Travel, we work diligently to create and maintain a unique competitive advantage. We have approached the development of our unique services and technology offerings as a science. This is the only way you’re able to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

In order for something to be defined as a “unique competitive advantage” we require that it pass a four-part test:

  1. It must be objective.
  2. It must be quantifiable.
  3. It can’t be a cliché.
  4. It can’t be claimed by our competitors.

Read more about Christopherson’s four-part test here.


Business Travel Travel News

Christopherson’s CEO Shares His Notes from Jim Collins’ GBTA Keynote Address

Camerons with Jim Collins
Mike and Matt Cameron with author, Jim Collins

I recently attended the Global Business Travel Association’s Masters Program with my brother Matt, our COO. While there, we had the privilege of hearing the Concur-sponsored keynote speaker, Jim Collins. Jim is the author of the book Good to Great, which, in my opinion, is one of the all-time great business books on how to build successful, enduring companies.

If you haven’t read his book, you should. If you haven’t attended the Masters Program, you should.

Jim’s remarks summarized some of his famous principles and I took notes as follows:

If you want your company to go from “Good to Great” you must identify how you are doing with regards to the following 12 questions:


1. Do I have the will to become a level 5 leader?

Leadership is the art of getting people to “want” to do what needs to be done

    • Level 5 Executive – Inspires people to follow a cause
    • Level 4 Effective Leader – Inspires people to follow them
    • Level 3 Competent manager
    • Level 2 Contributing team member
    • Level 1 Highly capable individual

2. Are you humble?

Humility is a most important leadership trait.

3. Do you have the right people on the bus?

This is the single most critical executive decision you need to make with your leaders. Do your leaders have the necessary:

    1. Values
    2. Will
    3. Skills

Great leadership isn’t worth much without exceptional unit leadership.
Great unit leaders are really good at building pockets of greatness.

4. What are the brutal facts?

Pick up the “rocks” and look at them underneath to see what needs to be fixed.

5. What do we understand about our hedgehog?

Click here for an explanation of Jim’s hedgehog concept.

Foxes love complexity.
Hedgehogs understand one big thing.
Simplify things, reduce concepts down to a simple concept.
Three things that play into your hedgehog strategy:

    1. What are you passionate about?
    2. What are you the best in the world at?
    3. What drives your economic engine?

6. How can you accelerate your flywheel by committing to a 20-mile march?

Two teams set out to get to the South Pole in 1911. They both left for the South Pole at the same time. Only one team made it there and back by committing to a 20-mile march EVERY day.

    • Fanatical discipline
    • Productive paranoia
    • Empirical creativity

Once you get the flywheel moving, fine-tuned and growing, it can’t be stopped.

7. Where should you place your big bets?

How do you blend creativity and discipline?
Creativity is natural.
Discipline is not natural, it must be learned.
There is a difference between how the winners did innovation.
Those who didn’t win didn’t fire enough bullets.
First fire bullets, then cannon balls.
Keep trying things until you find something that works, then fire cannonballs.

8. What is your BHAG–your big hairy audacious goal?

The “goal” will stimulate progress.
Preserve the core while stimulating progress.
Change practices without changing core values.

9. What is the right 20% that you need to change and why?

10. How can we maximize our return on luck?

Level 5 leaders credited good luck for their success
Are the big winners luckier? No.
The winners got a higher return on their luck.

11. Do you show any stages of the five stages of decline:

    1. Hubris born of success
    2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
    3. Denial of risk and peril
    4. Grasping for salvation
    5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

12. What should be on your “stop doing” list?

True discipline lies not in what we do, but to know what to stop doing.
What can we do to seek not to attain a good life, but instead a great life?

Travel Management Travel Technology

AirPortal 360™ Mobile Provides Travel Management And More

AirPortal-360-Mobile-blackWhen Christopherson Business Travel developed AirPortal 360™ Mobile, our objective was to create the first mobile app designed exclusively for the corporate travel manager. We succeeded!

With AirPortal 360 Mobile, you can do your job wherever you are, whenever you need to.

The app is now available in IOS and Andriod versions and includes the following functions:

SecurityLogic®: Provides a map to see who is traveling and where, plus the ability to alert travelers of delays and dangers

Airtinerary®: All your travelers’ itineraries—past, present, and future are accessible

ProfileLogic®: Access and edit your travelers’ profiles, deactivate/activate users, and reset passwords

PolicyLogic®: Summary view of your company’s travel policy plus access to your vendor contracts

Contacts: All the numbers you need, stored in one place

But as it turns out, AirPortal 360 Mobile does so much more.

Now that our corporate clients have been using it for four to five months, we have learned that the app is helpful in so many additional ways. For example:

  • One of our travel managers recently told us, “Every time I’m in a meeting, someone will ask me where so-and-so is, assuming that I have every traveler’s itinerary memorized. Now I do!”
  • When a group of travelers are attending a meeting or event together, there are always questions about who is arriving and departing when, who has a rental car booked, and how you will coordinate transportation. With AirPortal 360 Mobile, it’s done! Logistics are easy to coordinate because all that information is at your fingertips.
  • When traveling with others you often need to know who is staying at which hotels to schedule logistics and events. Again, done!
  • When traveling for business it is often necessary to find a coworker’s itinerary, should you be interested in booking others on the same fight. Done.

We are pleased with the adoption of AirPortal 360 Mobile and the way in which it has enhanced not only travel management, but also day-to-day travel coordination and the logistics of business travel.

If  you have questions about how AirPortal 360 Mobile can benefit your company’s travel program, please contact one of our executives.

Business Travel Travel Industry

2013: A Big Year of Change, Investments, and Growth for Christopherson Business Travel

Christopherson experienced a big year of investment, growth, and change.
Christopherson experienced a big year of investment, growth, and change.

As we look back on 2013, Christopherson Business Travel had a great year with lots of change, major investments, and lots of growth.

We Made Big Changes:

  • We implemented the Agresso ERP accounting & business information system.
  • We updated and implemented our travel management technology platform, AirPortal®.
  • We moved, expanded, or remodeled our offices in Marin County, Salt Lake City, and Denver.

We Made Big Investments:

We Experienced Big Growth:

  • We implemented 96 new corporate clients, plus we added 170 new clients in Alabama.
  • We added 75 new team members (27 new employees/agents and 48 new employees in Alabama).
  • We added about $50 Million in sales.

Twenty-thirteen was a year filled with change, investment, and growth. And as we look forward to 2014, we have set the stage for even more growth. We are looking forward to another amazing year.

Mike Cameron, CEO
Christopherson Business Travel

Business Travel Travel Technology

AirPortal 360™ is a Travel Management Nerve Center

Effective travel management must meet and balance the needs of two key groups:

  1. Travel managers, who need to save their company money on travel and who also have duty of care responsibilities
  2. Travelers, who want service, safety, and convenience.
AirPortal 360 is a travel management nerve center.
AirPortal 360 is a travel management nerve center.

Our objective at Christopherson Business Travel, when we developed AirPortal 360, was to meet the requirements of both groups. While our key stakeholders are the companies for whom we manage travel because they pay for our services, we must also take good care of the travelers, in order to be successful.

AirPortal 360 is the solution that provides companies:

  1. One platform integrating full-service and online travel management.
  2. A 360° real-time view of their entire travel program providing high-level “situational awareness and increased visibility.
  3. Actionable intelligence allowing travel managers, our account managers, and our agents to respond to our clients’ needs.

The key components of our proprietary AirPortal 360 platform are:

AirPortal 360™ Dashboard

  • Provides SecurityLogic heat map on the homepage, plus customizable widgets to provide awareness and actionable intelligence


  • Create a travel management policy to monitor and manage your travel program
  • Manage preferred vendor relationships and ensure compliance to help save money


  • Set up a company and their travelers’ profiles and optionally organize them by division, department, and team


  • Access past, present, and future traveler itineraries


  • Handle duty of care by identifying who, when, and where travelers are, and respond appropriately when there is an incident that requires action


  • Increase savings through recovery and management of unused airline tickets


  • Provide real-time access and on-demand reporting of travel program data

My Travel™ Dashboard

  • Provide travelers with the information they need before, during, and after their trips

To learn more about how Christopherson’s AirPortal 360 platform can benefit your company’s travel program and save you time and money on business travel, please contact one of our executives.



Business Travel Travel Industry

Delta Air Lines Continues to Invest in Los Angeles

delta_airlines_logo1Delta Air Lines continues to invest in their presence at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and in meeting their clients’ global travel needs. Some of their exciting 2013 milestones are:

  • Commenced a $229 Million renovation at LAX which, when complete, will feature four new check-in islands, a new baggage claim area, same-floor security check-in with 10 lanes and even more restaurants and shopping options
  • Closed on their 49% equity stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways, giving Delta non-stop, twice daily LA-London service on Virgin’s industry-leading product. This service will commence in January 2014.
  • Launched a new “Shuttle Service” on the busy L.A.-San Francisco route with 15 daily hourly trips with a top-of-the-hour memory schedule similar to the East Coast shuttles between New York and Boston/DC/Chicago
  • Standardized flat-bed seats with no-step over aisle access in business class on all Delta transoceanic daily international flights from LA to Sydney and both of Tokyo’s airports, Narita and Haneda
  • Launched new destinations from LAX including Seattle, Portland, San Jose (CA), Nashville, Spokane, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose (Costa Rica)

Delta recently announced the best 3rd quarter financial results in their history. They are performing well on all fronts.

The airline also won in double categories in The Beat’s sixth annual Readers’ Choice Awards, for Most Admired Airline and the Supplier of the Year.

Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Technology

A Brief Overview and Evolution of the Travel Industry

Travel is so commonplace and easy in today’s world, most people don’t stop to thing about the evolution of the travel industry. Just how far have we come? Where did we start? Read our ultimate guide below for a history on our current travel and reservation system, which ultimately changed how we work and live.

Historical highlights in the evolution of the travel industry:

  • In 1841, Thomas Cook, a Baptist preacher, struck a deal with the Midland Railway to organize the transportation of members of his temperance society. Cook received a commission from the railway and effectively became the first recorded travel agent.
  • The rapid growth of the airlines began in the 1920s and Delta, American, and PanAm were formed at this time.
  • Joe Saunders, an entrepreneur from Omaha, started an “Automobile for Hire” business that is recognized as being the first recorded car rental company.
  • Later that decade, John Hertz would purchase one of Saunders’ competitors and form the Hertz company.

The evolution of travel technology and reservation systems:

In 1952, American Airlines installed the Magnetronic Reservisor. This is an electromechanical system of vacuum tubes and a magnetic storage drum. It allowed the airline to store seat availability on a centralized platform.

  • Around the same time, Trans Canada Airlines (TCA), in conjunction with the University of Toronto, developed the world’s first computerized reservation system. Called Reservations Electronically Controlled, it was commonly known as the Reservec.
  • American Airlines, aware of the early Reservec success, invested in the development of their own computerized reservation system.  In partnership with IBM, they developed the Sabre computer reservation system. Used by travel agents, it acted as a clearing house for US travel.
  • By late 1970s, reservation terminals were installed in travel agencies across the US.
  • Meanwhile, Sabre, in partnership with the growing computer network services business, Compuserve, provided the first known instance of online bookings for both airlines and hotels via EAASY Sabre.
  • The increase in travel agent hotel reservations and the advent of smaller and more powerful desktop computer systems prompted the creation of hotel reservation systems. Now, the reservation systems could be located at the hotel front desk, increasing convenience.
  • In 1996, a small division of Microsoft, called Expedia, launched its website offering online bookings for air, hotels, and car rentals.
  • Later that year, Travelocity, owned by Sabre, launched its own site to help the “do-it-yourself traveler.”
  • The co-founders of Orbitz and Experdia realized consumers were shopping across multiple websites looking for deals on airline fares. They developed Kayak, allowing customers to find airline pricing results across multiple sites with one search. This model is known as metasearch.

Today, the travel industry has morphed into a combination of self-service internet tools  and full-service travel management companies. One suits the ‘do-it-yourself’ traveler, while the other manages travel for businesses and organizations. Christopherson Business Travel provides a crossover with our proprietary travel technology known as AirPortal®. We manage travel for busy companies, but provide simple and straight-forward technology so they can easily book travel themselves too.

Vacation Travel

Destination Highlight: Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I recently visited Iguazu Falls, prior to attending the Virtuoso Symposium in Buenos Aires. (Isn’t it nice when you can add some leisure travel to your business trip?) Iguazu Falls is on the border of Brazil and Northern Argentina, and consists of numerous waterfalls varying from about 200-270 feet high. It is divided into upper and lower Iguazu and is so large that there is no vantage point that allows you to view the entire falls at once, unless you are in a helicopter. The upper falls are called the Devil’s Throat, where about half of the rivers flow falls. The Devil’s Throat is about 270 feet high, 490 feet wide, and 2,300 feet long. It is incredible to see the amount of water flowing through it!

About 20% of the falls are on the Brazil side and 80% are on the Argentina side. The Argentina side takes you almost the entire day to visit, because of the numerous catwalks along the entire top of the falls. It also takes you to a great vantage point right in the middle of the Devil’s Throat. I did not visit the Brazil side, but it seemed that the Argentina side got you much closer to the falls overall and had a lot more to see, where as the Brazil side gave good panoramic views from across the river.

The best place to stay is the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa. It is the only hotel inside the park. You can literally walk out the back side of the hotel and you are at the falls. The other hotels are in Puerto Iguazu, which is a small town about 20 minutes from the falls. The Sheraton is more expensive because of its proximity to the falls, but it’s still the best option.

We spent a day at Iguazu Falls and I believe it was the perfect amount of time. Two days would have allowed for us to take our time, but much more time would have been excessive. The only thing to see is the falls, but they are definitely worth the trip. Even though Iguazu is packed with tourists and far away from anything, it is still absolutely amazing and completely worth seeing.

Business Travel Travel Industry

The Science of Maintaining a Unique Competitive Advantage

competition_advantageWhen in business, whether you own the company or are an employee of it, it is important to understand the difference between “unique competitive advantages” and “business strengths.” Many companies will tout their “advantages,” but what they’re really presenting are just their basic strengths and most cases, are likely are only spouting clichés. An example of a common and overused business cliché is: “we will exceed your expectations.”

While business strengths are important, they are not differentiators. You need strengths just to stay in business. You need unique competitive advantages to grow and prosper, faster than your competition.

At Christopherson Business Travel we have approached the development of our unique competitive advantages as a science. This is the only way you’re able to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace.

In order for something to be defined as a “unique competitive advantage” we require that it pass a four-part test:
1.    It must be objective.
2.    It must be quantifiable.
3.    It can’t be a cliché.
4.    It can’t be claimed by our competitors.

An example of one of our unique competitive advantages is the recent introduction of AirPortal 360™ Mobile, the first comprehensive mobile app to provide corporate travel managers the ability to manage their company’s travel program from the palm of their hand. Read about it here.

The introduction of this newest unique competitive advantage garnered a great deal of media attention (see here), which is objective and quantifiable.

Can we objectively say that our unique competitive advantages have helped us grow faster than our competition? During the last five years we have more than doubled in size, growing from a $160 million company in 2007, to a $341 million company in 2012. Christopherson was recently ranked #11 in size, in the U.S., by Business Travel News (BTN). We were also the fastest growing of all the top 20 Travel Management Companies in the U.S., in terms of percentage growth. Read more here.

The BTN ranking and applicable growth rate are objective, quantifiable, not a cliché, and can’t be claimed by our competitors. Thus, Christopherson Business Travel can present our technology to be a “unique competitive advantage.”

Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Releases AirPortal 360™ Mobile: The First Comprehensive Mobile App for Corporate Travel Managers

AirPortal 360 Mobile is the first mobile app that allows corporate travel managers the ability to manage their program wherever, whenever.
AirPortal 360 Mobile is the first mobile app that provides corporate travel managers the ability to manage their company’s travel program–wherever, whenever.

Christopherson Business Travel will soon be launching AirPortal 360™ Mobile, the first comprehensive mobile app to provide corporate travel managers the ability to manage their company’s travel program from the palm of their hand—wherever, whenever. (Read the full press release here.)

As the mobile version of Christopherson’s intelligent travel manager dashboard, AirPortal 360 Mobile delivers a collection of essential management tools that allow travel managers, and other key players in a company’s travel program, to maintain and manage their duty of care responsibilities, ensure better policy compliance, keep track of travelers and their itineraries, and more.

In the recent Business Travel News (BTN) article, “Assessing Mobile Travel Services and Strategies,” BTN stated that, “However nimble a corporate travel program might be, changes in its culture inevitably occur more slowly than did the rapid, massive embrace by business travelers of mobile technology.”

At Christopherson, we have noticed that while mobile technology innovation has progressed rapidly for travelers, there has not been much innovation when it comes to mobile technology for travel managers. The mobile apps that do exist for that market only provide a third-party software developer’s niche service, and until now, there have been no comprehensive mobile apps to help travel managers oversee their entire travel program. AirPortal 360 Mobile is the solution to that void.

Christopherson has long been a leader in adopting mobile business travel technology, as evidenced by the fact that we were the first travel management company to fully integrate TripIt’s interactive trip management services for all Christopherson business travelers. This occured three years ago, prior to Concur buying TripIt. (Read TripIt’s full press release here.)

Christopherson will be unveiling AirPortal 360 Mobile at the 2013 Global Business Travel Association convention, in San Diego, CA, August 4-7. The app is first available to iPhone users, and the Android version will be released in September 2013.

We invite you to stop by our booth (#3625) to take a look and demo the app for yourself.
GBTA Signature

Business Travel Travel Industry

BCD’s Acquisition of TBiz Continues the Convergence of Full-Service and Online TMC Channels

BCDBCD Travel acquired Travelocity Business, otherwise known as TBiz, from its parent company Travelocity. Travelocity is a unit of Sabre Holding.

This is particularly interesting to us at Christopherson Business Travel because we are an affiliate of BCD Travel. We see this as a positive announcement and anticipate that this should benefit our clients in the future, by giving us access to any discounted hotel and other discounted vendor content that Tbiz might have.

This transaction brings full circle the decade-long trend of online travel agencies and traditional full-service travel management companies converging. The trend started in 2002 when Expedia bought full-service corporate travel agency, Metropolitan Travel.

An interesting side-note to the story is that World Travel Partners, the predecessor company to BCD Travel, was the original fulfillment partner for Expedia. They issued and serviced all of the tickets for Expedia for many years, and by 1999 had as many as 250 customer service representatives assigned to the account.

Orbitz joined the convergence trend with the launch of Orbitz for Business in 2002 and then Travelocity followed suit by launching Tbiz in 2003. Expedia bought Paris-based Egencia in 2004 and eventually rebranded its entire business travel unit under the Egencia name.

During this same time period full-service business travel management companies were converging from the opposite direction and rapidly selling and implementing corporate online booking tools. Online adoption rates soared with TMCs over the past decade. Concur expanded the convergence trend by acquiring the Cliqbook on-line booking tool from Outtask and integrating it into their expense management service.

We can now say that effective travel management requires all TMC participants to offer and embrace the full spectrum of online booking tools as well the as the high-touch travel agent and account management services offered by the traditional TMCs.

Christopherson is also participating in the convergence trend with increased online booking adoption rates. While our total airline transactions in 2012 increased 17% over 2011, our online bookings increased at a much more robust rate of 78% during 2012!


Travel Management Travel Technology

Great Design Matters–How Christopherson Bridged the Gap Between Technology Form and Function


Everyone sees Apple as the gold standard for great technology design. Their minimalistic, clean, user friendly interfaces are great because they are simple and intuitive. They hide the complexity of the technology from the user. Great design is an integral part of every decision they make.

Many technology companies have great technology (function), but they leave the user-interface (form) up to their internal software engineers. In these instance, the design often appears to be an afterthought, at best. Popular psychology tells us that those who are often best with the “left brain” work, the logical stuff, might not be as good at the creating great designs, the “right brain” activities.

When Christopherson embarked on our journey to completely redesign AirPortal®, our integrated business travel technology platform, and introduce AirPortal 360™, our travel manager dashboard, we wanted to treat form and function with equal importance. We made the decision early on to hire a creative, user-interface design company to help us with our “form.” But this also then creates a separate challenge, which is that if you get too creative, your technology might not be as functional as a simple, yet boring, design might be.

How did we bridge the gap? We created two separate designs–one was done by our outside design company and the other by our internal development team. We then sat down and merged the best of both worlds. We were also fortunate that we have one of those rare individuals on our technology team who has great skills on both sides of the brain. The process was interesting; designers are artists and they often think of their design as their “baby.” And who wants to tell anyone that they have an “ugly baby,” right?

In the end, we came up with a design that nailed our form-versus-function objectives. And while we’re certainly not Apple, we do think our new AirPortal 360 design is clean, creative, and functional–so please don’t tell us that you think we have an “ugly baby.”

Business Travel Travel Management

The Acrobatics of Rock & Roll Business Travel

business travel management for rock groups

What event takes 130 people, 27 trucks, a 747 cargo plane, multiple cars, hotel rooms with late check-in and late check-out, catering, advance travel teams, and contingency plans? Here’s a hint: It’s all for one two-and-a-half hour rock and roll show.

Welcome to the Sir Paul McCartney tour!

The travel requirements for this tour were described as “practically a paramilitary operation,” by Global Business Travel magazine editor Peter Greenburg in his recent  article “Band on the Run: Anatomy of a Mega Rock and Roll Tour.”

It’s not just the musicians’ needs they have to consider. Planning a concert tour means coordinating travel for the entire crew, including lighting and sound techs, caterers, and accountants, plus the arranging of numerous hotel rooms, navigating weather, and dealing with lost luggage. It’s nothing short of a business travel management miracle.

But having had the privilege of attending two of Sir Paul’s concerts, I can confidently say that all the behind the scenes acrobatics are certainly worth it!

(Oh, and while you’re browsing the latest issue of Global Business Travel, check out Christopherson Business Travel’s ad on page 7!)

Business Travel

Christopherson Business Travel is an Affiliate of BCD Travel

BCD_AffiliateChristopherson Business Travel is a BCD Travel affiliate. BCD Travel operates in more than 95 countries, with $22.8 billion in total sales and a combined worldwide workforce of 11,000. (Read more about BCD, here.)

Operating throughout North America, the BCD Travel Affiliate Program is a model of innovation and excellence. A select group by design, there are more than 35 affiliates of BCD Travel in North America, with 450+ locations, totaling more than $2 billion in airline sales alone. In many regions of the U.S., the BCD affiliate is the leading independently owned TMC in the markets they represent.

Christopherson Business Travel is currently ranked as the third largest TMC amongst the BCD affiliate group and the largest TMC located west of the Mississippi.

BCD provides affiliate agencies a wealth of resources to strengthen the company and to provide clients with local presence around the world. BCD provides Christopherson with:

  1. Global footprint, clout and buying power (size)
  2. Training and sharing of industry insight (expertise)
  3. Networking and best-practices reviews (community)

BCD resources include the following buying power for our clients:

  • International Airline Programs
  • Global Hotel Program
  • Rental Car Exclusive Rates

The senior BCD leadership teams meet with us regularly and provides invaluable insight and training to our teams.

As a group, the affiliates meet regularly and act as a sounding board with each other, exchanging best-practice solutions on travel management. Personally, I have the privilege of serving on the BCD Affiliate Board of Advisors which gives me the ability to contribute to the direction of the program.

Business Travel Travel Industry

BCD Travel Founder, John A. Fentener van Vlissingen, Talks about BCD History

BCD_AffiliateChristopherson Business Travel is a BCD Travel Affiliate. We joined as an affiliate 20 years ago, when it was then called BTI Americas. Being affiliated with the third largest global travel management company has been good, both for us and our clients.

BCD Travel operates in more than 95 countries, with US $20.8 billion in total sales, and a combined worldwide workforce of 11,000.

Recently BCD’s founder, John van Vlissingen spoke with Business Travel News editorial director Jay Campbell about “his legacy and lessons of business.” In his interview, he related the story of the 1998 acquisition of BTI Americas and the subsequent BTI-WorldTravel Partners merger. (Read more about that merger here.)

I was actually serving on the affiliate board of BTI Americas, prior to the acquisition by World Travel Partners taking place. We knew that BTI was for sale so we held an emergency board meeting in August of 1998 to talk about the various selling options BTI was contemplating, as well as the possible consequences of each one to the BTI affiliate organization. We learned about the deal with World Travel some time later and were thrilled to hear they decided to make the deal with WTP. It turned out to be a good thing for the affiliates.

In his interview with Business Travel News, van Vlissingen talked about the advantages of being privately owned and being able to make better long term decisions rather than what he calls “the quarterly thinking” (the short term need to meet “earnings numbers” required as a publically traded company).

Christopherson Business Travel is also privately owned and we too have the ability to make decisions based upon a longer term horizon. For example we have recently been investing significant amounts of capital in our people, new facilities, and technology that will benefit our long term future.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

AirPortal 360™ is a Business Travel Management Nerve Center

Christopherson Business Travel recently released AirPortal 360™ which was the culmination of major investments and two years of work in building our proprietary travel management technology platform.

In creating AirPortal 360, we had three main objectives:

1.    To create a fully integrated platform

  • We had too many disparate 3rd party travel technology systems that were hard to make work well together.
  • We wanted better integration of full service & online travel management methodology and related policy compliance tools.

2.    To offer a 360°, real-time view that would enable high-level “situational awareness”

  • We wanted to create comprehensive dashboards and customizable widgets with KPIs.
  • We wanted to offer drill-down capabilities to solve specific problems.
  • We wanted to allow increased visibility and accountability.

3.    Provide Actionable Intelligence for all Users

  • External Clients: Travel Managers, Travel Arrangers and Travelers
  • Internal (TMC) Clients: Account Managers, Agents and Support

We also evaluated the individual stakeholder’s needs before we began building

AirPortal 360

Travel Managers want savings, policy compliance, and duty of care.  Thus AirPortal 360 offers:
•    Policy/vendor management tools for full service and online
•    Accurate management of unused airline tickets
•    The ability to identify who, when and where travelers are

Travelers want service and convenience. Through our traveler dashboard, business travelers have:
•     Document delivery (desktop & mobile)
•     Single sign-on connectivity to third party tools – TripIt®

TMC travel agents & account managers want tools to better manage their clients’ travel programs. To facilitate this, we created tools to:
•    Manage & monitor travel policy compliance
•    Manage preferred vendor relationships

We certainly think we’ve met our objectives and invite you to take a look at AirPortal 360™ here. You can also contact one of our executives to learn more about how we, and our business travel technology tools, can save you time and money.

Business Travel Travel Management

Christopherson Business Travel Offers the 2013 BCD Travel Hotel Program

As an affiliate of BCD Travel, Christopherson Business Travel offers the BCD Travel Hotel Program to our clients. BCD is a provider of global corporate travel management and operates in more than 95 countries, with US$20.8 billion in total sales.

The BCD Travel Hotel Program offers a comprehensive selection of more than 40,000 properties across 170 countries and 6 continents, with 99 percent of the properties now offering Best Available Rate (BAR) pricing. Hotels participating in the BCD Hotel Program are obligated to offer the BCD rate code at parity (equal to or less than any other travel management group or channel). In some cases, hotels offer a discount from BAR and/or offer a BCD Travel negotiated rate. All negotiated rates are guaranteed for last-room availability.

The BCD Travel Hotel Program is designed to provide the best value at quality properties, not only in key business markets, but in secondary and tertiary markets as well, where specific client negotiated hotel rates traditionally do not exist. Christopherson’s program complements client negotiated programs by providing an alternative to rack rates without steep or impractical penalties should plans change, in locations not covered under a client-negotiated program.

In addition to discounted rates, many participating hotels include value-added features or amenities, allowing travelers to realize savings off their total travel expense. Features may include complimentary breakfasts, high-speed internet access, telephone usage and airport transfers to name a few.

The percentages of hotels offering a few of the most popular complimentary amenities are as follows:

  • High speed Internet access included – 61%
  • Wi-Fi included – 58%
  • Breakfast included – 50%
  • Parking included – 52%
  • Fitness Center included – 65%

For more information about how your company can benefit from this hotel program contact your Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager or a member of our Business Development Team.

Business Travel Travel Industry

Forecasting Business Travel Spend for 2013

As 2013 approaches we’re all involved in planning and forecasting for the new year. And in fact, the business travel industry tends to act as a “leading economic indicator.” As the economy improves, the travel industry actually grows ahead of many of the other economic measurements.

When CEOs, business owners, and other decision makers begin to feel bullish about the future, they tend to invest in travel to expand their markets, meet with their customers, and invest in training and other marketing opportunities.

Conversely, when business owners feel uncertain they become more conservative in investing in travel. This appears to be the current state of the economy. The combination of the ”Fiscal Cliff,” the European debt crisis, and the prospect of higher taxes has slowed business travel growth.

At Christopherson Business Travel, we are still growing but at a slower pace in the second half of 2012 as compared to the first half. Our ticketing transactions were up in the mid 20% range for the first half of the year and the growth rate has been tracking in the mid teens range in the second half of the year. This is still significantly higher than the industry average. U.S. travel agencies, as a group, processed 1.4 percent more air transactions in October than they did a year earlier.

This slower 2013 travel growth trend was confirmed in a recent Morgan Stanley survey of corporate travel managers. They found that a majority of corporate travel buyers expect to spend modestly more on air travel next year, with most projecting year-over-year increases in trip volumes and average airfares. “Executives indicated that budgets are expected to grow 1.3 percent in 2013 on a budget-weighted basis,” according to Morgan Stanley airline analysts.

Business Travel Travel Industry

How to Accelerate Change

accelerate change in businessJohn P. Kotter wrote an interesting article in November’s Harvard Business Review about how organizations can increase the likelihood, and the success, of making necessary changes. A key component of his strategy is to recruit volunteers who are more naturally adaptable to change, combined with “change agent” type leaders, to offset the natural tendency of some leaders to resist change.

Following are some excerpts from his recommended “Accelerate Change” strategy:

“Organizational leaders are torn between trying to stay ahead of increasingly fierce competition and needing to deliver this year’s results. Hierarchies and standard managerial processes, even when minimally bureaucratic, are inherently risk-averse and resistant to change. Part of the problem is political: Managers are loath to take chances without permission from superiors. Part of the problem is cultural: People cling to their habits and fear loss of power and stature—two essential elements of hierarchies. And part of the problem is that all hierarchies, with their specialized units, rules, and optimized processes, crave stability and default to doing what they already know how to do. To move faster and further, you need to pull more people than ever before into the strategic change game, but in a way that is economically realistic.”

Mr. Kotter recommends looking for volunteers with the following qualities in mind:

  1. A want-to and a get-to—not just a have-to—mind-set.
  2. Head and heart, not just head.
  3. Much more leadership, not just more management. The game is all about vision, opportunity, agility, inspired action, and celebration.

Mr. Kotter proposed the following Eight Accelerators:

  1. Create a sense of urgency around a single big opportunity.
  2. Build and maintain a guiding coalition.
  3. Formulate a strategic vision and develop change initiatives designed to capitalize on the big opportunity.
  4. Communicate the vision and the strategy to create buy-in and attract a growing volunteer army.
  5. Accelerate movement toward the vision and the opportunity by ensuring that the network removes barriers.
  6. Celebrate visible, significant short-term wins.
  7. Never let up.
  8. Institutionalize strategic changes in the culture.

The travel industry is all about change. At Christopherson Business Travel we are rapidly introducing new technology, new systems, and new process. Change is, indeed good and we’re accelerating it.

Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel Technology

Creating and Maintaining a Unique Competitive Advantage

As we have grown Christopherson Business Travel from a $1 million company to a more than $300 million company over the last 21 years we have maintained a tight focus on creating a unique competitive advantage. We have worked hard to develop services, tools, and products that give us an edge in the business travel management marketplace.

The “VRIO” framework is a great tool that can be used to evaluate and maintain a company’s competitive advantage. VRIO is an acronym for a four question analysis every business should conduct before investing in any service, tool, or capability to determine its competitive potential.

  1. The Question of Value: Will this technology/service/strategy add value for your clients?
  2. The Question of Rarity: Is the capability or technology in the hands of a relative few?
  3. The Question of Imitability: Is it difficult to imitate and will there be significant cost to a firm trying to duplicate the capability?
  4. The Question of Organization: Are you organized, and ready to exploit the capability?

As Christopherson continues to grow, we will continue to ask these very important questions before we invest in the next service, tool or capability. Stay tuned for some exciting new tools and technologies that we will be releasing soon.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel Tips

Zoom Up and Zoom Out: Best Business Practices from the CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar Company

Most frequent flyers have preferences for how they like to use their “flying time.” Personally, my inclinations vary from reading, to watching movies, to playing Scrabble with my wife, to catching up on e-mail. Delta’s addition of Wi-Fi on domestic flights has certainly changed my “flying time” habits over the last few years, as well. But the one constant flight activity I’ve found to be quite beneficial is something I call “Zoom Up and Zoom Out.”

Over the years I have used the time when I “zoom up” into the air to “zoom out” for strategic thinking. During my flights, however long or short, I do three things to help me get the creative juices flowing so I can think more strategically about the future:
1.    Catch up on my reading in trade publications
2.    Read a good business book or article on leadership or innovation
3.    Take notes on any ideas I may have in my travel journal

Reading trade publications gets me thinking about all the current trends and events occurring in my industry (travel management). A good business book or article helps me think about how I can do things better. And perhaps most importantly, my travel journal provides the opportunity to capture and record my ideas as they flow.

While many of those ideas get tossed out eventually, and while others may not be applicable or feasible at the time they are written, I’ve found that the real value of the travel journal is that I can watch the patterns and connections between my ideas over time. Sometimes ideas just need to evolve and mature, and I’ve seen how many of my thoughts, though perhaps small and independent when I write them down, become important pieces in bigger puzzle that forms over time. As you record your thoughts, they may not “work” standing alone, but together they might eventually create a viable strategy for your company.

So on your next flight, give it a try. “Zoom out” while you “zoom up.” The combination of doing those three things, in a setting without interruptions, can be very beneficial.


Mike Cameron is the President and CEO of Christopherson Business Travel, the independently owned leader in intelligent business travel management. Founded in 1953 and purchased by Mike and Camille Cameron in 1990, Christopherson, at that time, had two employees and booked $1 million in travel. Today, Christoperson ranks as the 12th largest business travel agency in the United States, operating from three full-service locations (Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California) as well as 35-client dedicated on-site locations, maintains a successful leisure travel division (Andavo Travel), employs more than 250 travel professionals, and booked $287 million in travel in 2011 for more than 900 clients across the country.

Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Expands at LaGuardia and Invests in the Customer Experience

Delta Launches the Final Phase of Their Expansion at the New York-LaGuardia Airport
In July Delta added 11 new destinations from the hub in addition to a dozen new routes launched in March, completing the largest route expansion at the New York City gateway in more than 40 years. Since March, Delta has increased service at LaGuardia by more than 60 percent, with 100 new flights and 26 new destinations.

Delta Offers Improved Productivity and Convenience for New York Travelers
Travelers arriving at LaGuardia enjoy the airport’s easy access to Manhattan. They can also connect at the conveniently positioned hub to dozens of business destinations. At LaGuardia, Delta operates a combination of narrow body and regional jets, the latter of which offer the convenience of First Class Cabins on most routes.

Facility Improvements at LGA Enhance the Customer Experience
In addition to new flights at LaGuardia, Delta is investing more than $160 million to modernize LaGuardia, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2012. The project includes a 630-foot connector bridge linking Terminals C and D, a new Delta Sky Club in Terminal C and expanded security lanes in both terminals. The connector bridge will allow Delta customers to walk between terminals behind security, providing easy access to departure and arrival gates and facilitating convenient connections.

$1.2 Billion in Improvements at JFK Complements LaGuardia Expansion
Besides modernizing facilities at LaGuardia, Delta also is part of a $1.2 billion expansion project at their JFK hub to add nine additional gates to Terminal 4. That terminal, which will become Delta’s international gateway at New York, will include a state-of-the-art baggage handling system, additional Customs and security lanes and one of the largest Delta Sky Clubs in the airline’s system. Customers can use their global hub at JFK to reach nearly 50 international destinations on five continents.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel News

Christopherson Business Travel Ranks #12 in the 2012 BTN Annual Business Travel Survey

Business Travel News (BTN) recently ranked Christopherson at #12 among all participating travel management companies nationwide.

We are pleased to receive this important recognition. Further analysis of the data reveals that Christopherson Business Travel was ranked as:
•    #1 among the travel management companies headquartered in the Western United States
•    #2 among the participating BCD Travel affiliates (our business travel affiliation)
•    #3 among the travel management companies using the Travelport GDS (our computer reservation system)
•    #5 among the participating Virtuoso travel agencies (our luxury travel affiliation)

Click here to see the full report.






*BTN invites travel management companies who book more than half their sales for business travel through the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) to release ARC data for their respective companies. This insures that the rankings are valid and independently verified by actual booking data.

Travel News

Q1 Was a Mixed Bag for the Airlines

The major U.S. domestic airlines had widely varied results for the first quarter of 2012.
Delta Air Lines posted a first-quarter net profit of $124 million versus a $318 million loss for Q1 a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the company’s pre-tax loss was $36 million, representing a $355 million improvement from the first quarter of 2011, despite $250 million in higher fuel expense. The airline posted a 10 percent increase in revenue, year-over-year, to $7.2 billion.
US Airways Group posted a first-quarter net profit of $48 million versus a $114 million loss for Q1 a year earlier. The net profit included a special $70 million credit associated with a slot transaction executed with Delta, at New York LaGuardia and Washington National airports. Passenger revenue increased 11.5 percent, year-over-year, to $2.9 billion.
United Continental Holdings posted a first-quarter net loss of $448 million versus a $213 million net loss for Q1 last year. The loss included $162 million in special costs, primarily related to United’s integration of Continental Airlines, according to the carrier. Corporate revenues increased 10 percent year-over-year.
American Airlines parent AMR posted a first-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion, versus a $436 million net loss for Q1 last year. Bankrupt AMR attributed the loss to $1.4 billion in reorganization items and an increase in fuel costs. Consolidated unit revenues increased 10.3 percent year-over-year.

Business Travel Travel Management

Travel Agency or Talent Agency?

Is Christopherson Business Travel a travel agency or a talent agency?

I’d say that in order to be a successful travel agency, you first have to be a successful talent agency.
Some may wonder, how did Christopherson grow from $1 Million to $287 Million in just 22 years? In order to achieve this, there are three basic points on which we focused:

  1. We hired the right people
  2. We developed a unique value proposition
  3. We shared the wealth, with those who generated it

Hiring the right people means putting together a team that has the ability to help you develop a superior value proposition, which will, in turn, provide monetary returns to your company. Then, if you’re willing to “share the wealth,” those “right people” will want to stay with you and the cycle of investment, return, and growth will continue. It sounds cliche, yes. And it sounds simple. But it begs the question: “Why doesn’t everybody do that?” Most businesses probably do, but many don’t.
Talent Management 101 says:

  • People want to be listened to
  • People want to be empowered to make decisions
  • People want to be part of a growing and successful organization
  • People want to receive incentives, which reflect their contribution to the success

So yes, we learned early on that we are a talent agency. We identified the best people in the travel industry, we hired them, and we keep them!

Travel News

Merging Continental and United Means Endless Decisions

United Airlines and Continental Airlines migrated to a single airline reservation system on March 3, 2012. Deciding which reservation system to migrate to was one of a thousand of decisions which had to be made for the two airlines to merge, integrate, and become one airline.

In addition to selecting the combined reservation system, following are some of the interesting decisions which had to be made, in order to create “the new United”:
•    Which coffee supplier to use (they brew 62 million cups per year)
•    Serving roasted nuts to the first class travelers (heated or not)
•    Boarding procedures (back-to-front or window-to-aisle)
•    Boarding passes (information and printing format)
•    Shape of the plastic drink cups (width and height)
•    Branding (including logo, slogan and uniforms)
•    On-board animal policies
By way of anecdote, on July 1 the “new United” coffee was introduced to fliers. However, due to the barrage of complaints the received following this introduction, they had to change their decision. To read more about this and other details of the United Continental merger, see this Bloomberg Businessweek article:
Making the World’s Largest Airline Fly

Business Travel Travel News

Salt Lake City Airport: Strategic Location and Bright Outlook

Christopherson Business Travel‘s headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah and we are pleased to share the news that one of our partners, Delta Air Lines, has recently agreed to participate in an ambitious $1.8 billion remake of the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Business Travel Executive Magazine spotlighted the SLC airport in their February 2012 issue, which included the following information:
•    The new airport facility will have 74 gates, a new rental car facility and a new parking garage
•    Salt Lake City airport ranks tops in North America, in on-time departures, at 86.55% of its flights
•    The SLC airport is ranked as the 25th largest in North America
•    Delta operates 249 flights per day from SLC to 85 domestic and international destinations
The entire article is available at
We are fortunate to have a forward thinking airport board in Salt Lake City, along with a solid aviation partner, Delta Air Lines.

Travel News

American Airlines Continues to Reorganize

American Airlines continues to experience difficulties, as compared to most of their legacy airline peers. Their recent bankruptcy filing as well as the recent announcement that they plan to cut 13,000 employees are indications of this continued struggle.
A combination of three factors has created a perfect storm for American Airlines at a time when other major airlines are actually experiencing strong comebacks:

  1. American was the only one of the legacy airlines who didn’t file bankruptcy in recent years. This has left them straddled with unrealistic labor contracts.
  2. They are the only one of the major airlines that didn’t find a merger partner (Delta/Northwest, United/Continental, and US Air/America West).
  3. They have led the charge in going “direct” for their distribution, which has alienated their sales and marketing partners (see “Where is American Airline’s Distribution Strategy Headed?“).

American Airlines once had a legacy of being an industry leader in many areas. Under the leadership of Bob Crandall they pioneered computer reservation systems with SABRE. They were a pioneer with their AAdvantage frequent flyer program. They also have a rich history of great service and many accomplishments. We hope that with this reorganization they will be able to find their way and continue to contribute to making the airline industry a solid part of the US economy.

Travel News

Delta Receives Top Honors from Business Traveler Magazine Survey

Congratulations to our partners at Delta!
The readers of Business Traveler magazine have chosen Delta as the recipient of four “Best in Business Travel” Awards in its list of 2011 honorees – more than any other U.S. airline:

  • Best North American Airline for Business Class Service
  • Best North American Airline for First Class Service
  • Best Frequent Flyer Program
  • Best Airline Web Site

“These awards are widely recognized in the business travel industry,” said Steve Sear, vice president – Global Sales. “Because the awards are solely determined by readers, they reflect the direct voice of business travelers and their recognition of our commitment to making flying easier, more comfortable and more flexible for
our customers.”
Click here to review the full list of awards.

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

The Airline Ancillary Fee Conversation Needs to be Redefined

The ancillary fee discussion between the airlines and the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) is centered on the following premise, as viewed by the airlines:

  1. Airlines want to develop a more intimate relationship with the travelers, along the lines of the model.
  2. Airlines want to differentiate their product so they are not compared in the “GDS green screen”, with other products, based upon price alone.
  3. Airlines believe that the current GDS technology is not able to meet these needs.
Travel News Travel Technology

Boeing Delivers First 787 to All Nippon Airways (ANA)

The world’s first carbon-composite passenger jet was delivered to ANA on September 27, 2011. The plane left Seattle, Washington to be delivered to ANA in Tokyo, Japan. The “Dreamliner” is touted as one the most significant technological improvements in aviation history. It is being delivered three years behind its original schedule and Boeing now has the task of delivering on a backlog of 820 more planes. They have set the goal to ramp up production to 10 per month by the end of 2013.

Travel News

GBTA Study: 2011 Global Business Travel Poised To Surpass $1 Trillion

The Global Business Travel Association Foundation is predicting that business travel spending will increase 9.2% in 2011 and surpass $1 trillion. Some of the growth is because of increased traveling and some because of vendor price increases. The increased cost of fuel has driven airline ticket prices up during 2011. You can view the Business Travel News article here.
Christopherson Business Travel is currently tracking at a 20% sales increase in 2011, as compared to 2010. The difference between our growth and the business travel industry growth is primarily because of market share gains.

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

Delta is Investing in the Customer Experience

Delta is investing more than $2 billion through 2013 to enhance their customers’ experience on the ground and in the air, with improvements to their global products, services, technology and airport facilities. They’re also focused on continuing to improve their operation. Consider the following achievements so far in 2011 (and click on the video links to learn more):

  • Improved operational performance for 2011, thanks to continued customer service training, expanded maintenance infrastructure and updated technology to better assist customers affected by delays.
  • 2,000 additional First Class seats aboard 228 regional jets. No other airline offers more first class seating than Delta.
  • Wi-Fi service on their entire domestic mainline fleet.
  • Full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite that offer optimal privacy and direct-aisle access. Their Boeing 767-400 and 777 fleets are now complete and work is well underway on their Boeing 767-300, 747-400 and Airbus A330 fleets. All Delta transoceanic flights will offer full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite by 2013.
  • Economy Comfort on international widebody flights, featuring up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline.
  • Mobile apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that let customers check in, view flight status, access their boarding passes, get airport information, check the weather, rebook their flight and store an airport parking location, among
    other functions.
  • Significant progress on the new Terminal 4 at New York-JFK, opening in 2013, and the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal in Atlanta, opening in 2012.
  • Two new Delta Sky Club lounges in Indianapolis and Philadelphia and renovated Sky Clubs in Atlanta, New York-LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Atlanta
    (Concourse B). In addition, a renovated club is scheduled to open later this summer in Seattle.
Travel Management Travel News

Airline Ancillary Fees

There is a lot of uproar going on in the travel industry surrounding ancillary fees.   How much are the airlines collecting in ancillary fees? Amadeus Reports Airline Ancillary Fees Totaled $22 Billion in 2010
I personally think the basic concept of treating special services like a “toll road” makes sense, in general. I would prefer to pay a lower price, if I bring a small carry-on bag, than the person who is bringing three giant luggage trunks that look like they are designed to hold enough clothing to move to the new location permanently.
The main issues relating to the uproar are:

  • What is the definition of an Ancillary Fee?
  • Consumer protection and regulatory rules
  • Travelling corporation’s reporting requirements
  • GDS technology for booking of the ancillary services

What are some of the ancillary fees that are causing all of this industry uproar? Time magazine breaks the “Extra Fees” down into nine categories, in this interactive visual description.
On the Consumer protection and regulatory side, The Department of Transportation recently proposed a rule requiring airlines to report all ancillary revenue to the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The Global Travel Business Association (GBTA) has taken the lead to find an industry solution for reporting ancillary airline data. This article provides an update on where they are at.
American Airlines has been in a dispute with the providers of the travel agent’s booking systems (known as the global distribution systems, or GDSs.) American has threatened to pull out of the GDS and require travelers to book their airline tickets directly with them. They have used “the marketing of ancillary services” as the main reason for wanting to do this. American recently made a settlement with Travelport to extend their existing full-content agreements for Travelport’s three GDS platforms – Apollo, Galileo and Worldspan. They have not come to an agreement with Sabre or Amadeus.

Travel News

Airlines Positioned For Big Gains in Efficiency

U.S. airlines lost a combined $1 billion in the first three months of this year. This is largely because of escalating fuel prices. Fuel costs are now the number one operating cost for airlines. To put that in perspective:  ten years ago fuel represented 15% of an airlines operating budget, while salaries and benefits represented 39%. Today fuel costs represent 35% of their budget, and salaries and benefits represent 28%.
The airlines are hoping to offset the escalating cost of fuel in part by increasing the efficiency of flying their airplanes. They are making progress towards this goal, as discussed in this recent article from Yahoo! Finance.

Travel News

Delta Named No. 1 in Six Executive Travel Leading Edge Awards

(June 23, 2011) – The readers of Executive Travel magazine have chosen Delta as the gold medal winner in six categories for the publication’s 2011 Leading Edge Awards – more than any other airline. Delta also received five silver and two bronze medals.

Travel News Travel Technology

TripIt Wins Best Travel Mobile App in 15th Annual Webby Awards

Did you know that Christopherson Business Travel features TripIt as our mobile application?  As such, we are excited to see TripIt win a prestigious Webby Award! The Webbys are the leading international award honoring excellence in interactive design, creativity, usability and functionality on the Internet.
Our clients enjoy using TripIt even more than the next guy, since our AirPortal technology sends all of their travel itineraries directly to TripIt – no forwarding necessary.

Travel News

Jeff Smisek: United Continental’s King of the Skies

Fortune magazine recently reported on how Jeff Smisek, the new United CEO, will make the United/Continental marriage work: “Take the best from both and bring them together.”
When United and Continental merged last year to create the world’s largest carrier, the official announcements never came out and stated the deal’s true rationale: to blend Continental’s management with United’s scale. That’s one reason former Continental chief Jeff Smisek is CEO of the new company.
In the Fortune interview Smisek talks about the importance of business travelers to United, the importance of their capacity discipline, dealing with the high price of oil, code sharing and dealing with United’s history of nasty labor relations. He maps out his vision for the future.
Click here to read the full article.

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

A 21 Year Formula for Growth

My wife and I bought Christopherson Business Travel 21 years ago today. Today is also the one year anniversary of us buying Andavo Travel. I’ve often been asked: is there a formula we have used for consistent growth? How did we grow from $1 Million to $240 Million in 21 years? Anniversaries are good days to reflect upon things.
The formula is:  the right people + the right value proposition + the right incentives = GROWTH! I know, that sounds simple, right? Yes, it’s that simple.

Travel News

Delta Adding New “Economy Comfort” Section on Long-Haul International Flights

Delta announced a major investment in its international fleet with plans to introduce a premium economy section – “Economy Comfort” – on all long-haul international flights in summer 2011.  The new seats will feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats.
The product, which is similar to upgraded Economy services currently available on flights operated by Delta’s joint venture partner Air France-KLM, will be installed in the first few rows of the Economy cabin on more than 160 Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft by this summer.
Customers who have purchased an international Economy ticket on Delta will be able to choose Economy Comfort seats for an additional fee of $80-$160 one-way through, kiosks and Delta reservations beginning in May for travel this summer.  Complimentary access to Economy Comfort seats will be available to all SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallions; up to eight companions traveling in the same reservation with Diamond and Platinum Medallions; and customers purchasing full-fare Economy class tickets.  Gold and Silver Medallions will enjoy 50 and 25 percent discounts on the Economy Comfort seat fees, respectively.
“Just as Delta is investing in BusinessElite, which is among the industry’s most competitive premium products, it makes sense to offer enhancements to our Economy Class service that provide additional comfort,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president – Network Planning, Revenue Management and Marketing.  “Economy Comfort is one of many elements Delta is committed to delivering to our customers as part of a more than $2 billion investment we are making in the air and on the ground to improve the customer experience and position Delta as a leader in customer service.”
In addition to more leg room and recline, customers seated in Economy Comfort will board early and enjoy complimentary spirits throughout the flight.  These benefits are in addition to Delta’s standard international Economy class amenities, including complimentary meals, beer, wine, entertainment, blankets and pillows. In-seat power will also be available on aircraft equipped with personal entertainment systems which come with free HBO programming and other for-fee content(1). The seats will be designated with a specially designed seat cover.
Full flat-bed seats on all international widebodies by 2013
In addition to investing in the international Economy cabin, Delta today announced it now plans to install 34 horizontal flat-bed BusinessElite seats with direct aisle access in each of its 32 Airbus A330 aircraft by 2013.  With this announcement, Delta now plans to offer full flat-bed seating in BusinessElite on all international widebody flights, or more than 150 aircraft, by 2013.
The new A330 seat, manufactured by Weber Aircraft LLC, will be 81.7 inches in length and 20.5 inches wide, similar to the flat-bed product currently offered on Delta’s 777 fleet. It also will feature a 120-volt universal power outlet, USB port, personal LED reading lamp and a 15.4 inch personal video monitor with instant access to 250 new and classic movies, premium programming from HBO and Showtime, other television programming, video games and more than 4,000 digital music tracks.
Today’s announcements are the latest in Delta’s previously announced plan to invest more than $2 billion in enhanced global products, services and airport facilities through 2013.  In addition to adding the Economy Comfort product and offering full-flat bed seats on its entire international widebody fleet, Delta is upgrading its domestic fleet with more First Class seats and in-seat entertainment; adding personal, in-seat entertainment for both BusinessElite and Economy class customers on all long-haul international flights; adding in-flight Wi-Fi service to all domestic aircraft with a First and Economy class cabin; and building new terminal facilities for international customers at its two largest global gateways – Atlanta and New York-JFK.
Economy Comfort seating will be offered on Delta’s Boeing 747, 757, 767 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft flying long-haul intercontinental routes between the U.S. and Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and South America (Lima, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago only). Economy Comfort seating is limited and may not be available on all flights. The Economy Comfort Medallion travel companion benefit is applicable for up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation as the Medallion member. Group reservations are not applicable. For companions of Gold Medallion members, fees apply per seat. All SkyMiles program rules apply to SkyMiles program membership, miles, offers, mile accrual, mile redemption and travel benefits, respectively.
(1) HBO programming to begin in July 2011 on select aircraft with personal video-screens; In-seat power and personal entertainment being installed through 2013.  

Travel Management Travel News

Where is American Airline’s Distribution Strategy Headed?

There is a battle brewing between American Airlines and some of their distribution partners. For starters, I want to say that American has been a good partner of ours for many years and they have not currently brought the U.S. based full service travel management companies (TMCs) into the fray. The current fray is between one of their online distributors (Orbitz), one of their reservation technology partners (TravelPort) and some of their non-US based travel agencies.
So why do I care? We use two of Travelport’s GDSs to book most of our airline reservations on behalf of our corporate clients. Depending on where this goes; we could become stuck in the middle of the fray.
This is a very complex industry dispute, which I won’t attempt to explain in detail. This BTN article describes an overview: AA, Travelport Mobilize for Air Distribution War.
The “short of it” is that the airlines have been trying to reduce their costs by reducing or eliminating their distribution costs for many years. The Internet has helped them become successful in bringing much of their ticket distribution in-house, with their own web-sites. The airlines pay TravelPort and the other the global distribution systems (GDS) to manage their airline seat inventory and provide travel agencies the content which we need to take care of our mutual corporate customers. The airlines have been successful in reducing their GDS costs during the past 4-5 years and American would like to reduce them even further.
The questions are:

  1. Haven’t we reached a fair equilibrium in the cost/benefit relationship between airlines, GDSs and TMCs? Most industry people seem to think so.
  2. Are “hard ball” tactics the best way to negotiate with your marketing/distribution partners?
  3. Why has American selected weak economic times to take on their marketing and distribution partners?

I would hope that we are generating a benefit to them by selling their seats to our corporate clients. The economy is still weak and they are a bit of an underdog right now in the airline merger game. We are seeing the two larger domestic airlines strengthen their commitment to TMCs, as their marketing distribution partner. I hope that American is not going down a different path; that this is merely political posturing and eventually everyone will “hold hands and work together” in these difficult economic times.

Travel News

Delta Boosts International Flights in 2011

Delta will expand its international schedule with new and expanded service to cities in Asia and Europe for spring and summer 2011. This will be continuing Delta’s focus on markets with high demand for business travel, including a significant expansion in Asia. Delta applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin new routes to Beijing and Guangzhou and plans expanded service to Shanghai and Manila.
You can read more here.

Vacation Travel

Micato Safaris

I recently returned from a Safari to Kenya, which was coordinated by Virtuoso, Micato Safaris and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. The experience was amazing and included:

  • Multiple game drives through the Maasai Mara National Reserve
  • A hot air balloon ride over the African countryside
  • Meetings with some Maasai Elders and a visit to their village
  • Mountain bike riding at the Mount Kenya Safari Club

We stayed at the three fantastic Fairmont properties in Kenya:

  • Fairmont The Norfolk – in Nairobi
  • Fairmont Mara Safari Club
  • Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club

The trip was capped off with a visit to the Micato AmericaShare project in Mukuru. We got a chance to meet some of the children and see firsthand how Micato is helping this poor African community improve itself through:

  • Education
  • Community Outreach and
  • Economic Development

I made several observations:

  • Micato has built a first class Safari business in East Africa. There is good reason that they have been named “World’s Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter” by the readers of Travel+Leisure an unprecedented seven times.
  • The owners, the Pinto family, are actively engaged; we even had dinner at their home
  • Micato is doing the community a great service with their AmericaShare Non-Profit organization
  • Fairmont Hotels has an amazing set of Kenya properties; the quality and service can’t be duplicated
Travel Management Travel News

Delta Introduces New Diamond Service at JFK Airport

I was traveling home from Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday with my wife and we experienced a nice surprise from Delta Air Lines.
As we deplaned from our London-JFK flight, a young man, with a sign which had our name on it, greeted us. He said; “Welcome back to the U.S. Mr. Cameron, My name is Joseph and I’m here to help you get through immigration and onto your next Delta connection.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Joseph escorted us through U.S. immigration, customs and TSA for our re-check in. He took us to the head of every line and literally whisked us through the process without waiting anywhere. He helped us carry our bags and he checked the status of our connecting flights. He noticed that our Delta computerized bag tags showed “JFK” as our final destination and reprinted tags to say “SLC.” He escorted us into the terminal, showed us where our departing gate was and explained how to get the nearest Sky Club. He was articulate and engaging in conversation all the way through. He is 24 years old, a native of Long Island and had recently completed a college degree in finance.
I asked him what this service was all about. He said it is a new program that Delta has implemented for all Diamond Elite travelers who fly internationally into JFK. I was impressed. Joseph told me they have hired 25 employees for this assignment and plan to hire an additional 15, bringing the Diamond Elite “Meet and Greet” staff to 40 employees.
I had earned the new Delta Diamond Elite frequent flyer designation earlier this year. This means I’ve traveled or earned 125,000 Medallion Qualification Miles this year; which translated, means too many nights away from home, sleeping in hotels. Medallion Benefits
Delta Air Lines has brought elite, “white glove” personal service to a new standard in JFK. I am pleased to be their partner as the president of the premier Travel Management Company in the Western United States.

Travel News

Airlines Have Best Quarter Since 1978

Airline earnings for third quarter 2010 are the best since deregulation happened in 1978. Delta Air Lines earned $363 million in profit, United Airlines earned $387 million, Continental Airlines earned $354 million, and Jet Blue also had a record quarter.
The airlines were able to accomplish this during weak economic times by raising their prices, cutting their seat capacity and adding ancillary fees for miscellaneous services such as checked baggage.
While the airlines seem to have a history of losing money over time, the current environment has been very good for them. We need to have a strong airline industry for companies to be able to have a reliable air transportation system which they can depend on. Continuous airline bankruptcies and financial instability does no one any good. Corporations, travel managers and travelers should all be happy to see the recent positive airline financial results.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Introducing TripIt Pro Enterprise pricing model

TripIt Pro is amazing. We hear great feedback from our travelers that have been using our direct AirPortal integration with TripIt.
A few weeks ago I was on a flight scheduled from Ft. Lauderdale to Salt Lake City (via JFK). Our aircraft had mechanical troubles. Before the pilot came on to notify the passengers, TripIt notified me of the delay. Alternate Flights (a feature of TripIt Pro) showed me other available options. I called my agent who talked to Delta and got me on the last seat (first class, woop!) to Salt Lake City via Atlanta. I told the flight attendent I was confirmed on another flight and left the plane. Several of the travelers around me heard my conversation and asked how I was able to change so quickly. They thought I had traveling super powers. I told them it was just TripIt and my full service agent.
On top of that, my would be flight from JFK – SLC was also delayed 2 hours. Without TripIt I would have landed in SLC around 1 am. Instead, I made it home 4 hours earlier. For me, TripIt Pro is absolutely worth the $39/year (Christopherson discounted price).
We want all of our travelers to have the benefits of TripIt Pro, but for those of our travelers that only travel once or twice a year, $39/year can seem a little bit expensive. That’s why we’re introducing a new TripIt Pro Enterprise pricing model.
Travel managers, here’s how it works. Instead of $39/year per traveler, every traveler in your company can have all the great benefits of TripIt Pro for only $1/trip.
The math is pretty easy. If your average traveler goes on less than 39 trips per year (which should be most of our clients), it is less expensive to go with the Enterprise Pricing model. As a travel manager you end up looking like a hero to your company (saving money) and your travelers by making their traveling experience easier.
Sounds great, right? How do I sign up, you ask? Just contact your Christopherson Business Travel account manager and they can set you up!

Travel News

United – Continental Airlines Merger Closes

On October 1, 2010 the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines received legal approval, allowing the two airlines to operate under a Chicago-based holding company called United Continental Holdings, Inc.
The United Continental merger milestone happened at the end of the same week that Southwest Airlines announced its purchase of Airtran Airways. While the airline industry consolidation has been taking place for many years, the recent combination of Delta-Northwest, United-Continental and Southwest-Airtran has put the consolidation process in hyper-mode.
The merged United-Continental will be based in Chicago and will operate under the United name; it will feature Continental’s logo. The airline will be run by Continental’s CEO, Jeffery Smisek. Both carriers will begin to merge operations in 2011 and a single operating certificate from the FAA is expected by 2012.

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Launches TripIt Mobile Application

Christopherson Business Travel is pleased to announce the launch of their partnership with TripIt to provide TripIt’s award-winning trip management services and mobile application to all Christopherson travelers. TripIt was recently presented with the NBTA Innovation Award for Outstanding App and Christopherson is excited to make TripIt available to their travelers.
TripIt will help Christopherson’s travelers stay…

  • In control, with web and mobile trip management
  • In the know, with travel alerts and itinerary sharing
  • In the loop, with collaboration tools for productivity and visibility

Travelers will continue to book travel as usual. After authorization with TripIt, Christopherson will automatically input travel plans directly into a traveler’s TripIt account and will synchronize any changes.
Technology for travelers – particularly in the mobile arena – is proliferating at lightning speed and Christopherson is ensuring they are able to keep up. TripIt’s open architecture and public application programming interface allow Christopherson, through a single integration point, to provide access to dozens of other TripIt integrated applications that their clients and travelers want to utilize to enhance the travel experience.
Christopherson will also provide its clients with preferred access to TripIt Pro, TripIt’s premium service for frequent travelers. TripIt Pro offers itinerary monitoring with mobile alerts, alternate flight options, frequent-traveler point tracking and other tools aimed at improving the travel experience.
Press Release

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

Christopherson Receives Fast 50 Award

Last week Christopherson Business Travel was recognized, by Utah Business Magazine, as one of Utah’s 50 fastest growing companies, for the second year in a row. The recipients are recognized “for their innovative business tactics and their skyrocketing revenue growth.” We were all congratulated for demonstrating notable entrepreneurial spirit, innovative business tactics, and the ability to drive revenue growth in the midst of a multi-year economic downturn.
Each of the CEOs had an opportunity to be interviewed and we were asked what the key drivers were behind our success. In our case, I noted three factors

  1. Focusing intently on a specific niche; business travel management
  2. Attracting the best people and keeping them happy
  3. Creating a unique competitive value proposition

Creating and maintaining a unique competitive advantage, which isn’t claimed by the competition and is not a cliché is how we built our strategy. We broke our value proposition into three separate “legs of the stool”; the value provided by:

  1. Our travel agents
  2. Our account managers
  3. Our proprietary technology

We relentlessly look at each “leg of the stool” and create unique services and value which aren’t offered by the competition. This strategic approach helped transform Christopherson into the fastest growing and largest travel agency in Utah and in the west!

Travel News Vacation Travel

Vacation division has new name Andavo Travel

In January 2008, Christopherson Business Travel, located in Salt Lake City, and Andavo Travel, located in Denver, began a merger process forming the nation’s 14th largest travel management company.
We are pleased to announce the merger process has concluded with a consolidated ownership and branding of our companies. Effective this month, we will be operating our entire leisure vacation division under the name Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company. Our corporate travel division will be operating under the name Christopherson Business Travel. Both divisions are now under the common ownership of Mike and Camille Cameron of Salt Lake City, Utah.
As we emerge a unified leisure travel management company under the Andavo Travel name, we want to assure our long time Christopherson Travel vacation clients that the same travel advisors who you have come to know and trust will continue to service your vacation travel needs. Along with many other special offers and promotions only available through our agency, we are pleased to bring our clients the added value of our preferred partner programs through Andavo’s long time membership with Virtuoso®.
“What is Virtuoso®?”
Virtuoso provides Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company connections with the best hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour companies in the world. For our clients, this means access to exclusive travel offers which are not available to the general public. If you rely on experts to reduce the complexity of travel arrangements and ensure smart choices, our travel advisors are able to design exceptional customized travel experiences using the resources and relationships available only through Virtuoso®.

  • Global Connections: With personal contacts at more than 1,000 airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, and premier destinations worldwide, our travel advisors will put these relationships to work for you.
  • Unparalleled Expertise: Our travel advisors are among the most well-traveled people on the planet. They draw on their first-hand experiences when customizing vacations for our valued clients.
  • Customized Travel Experiences: From weekend getaways to trips of a lifetime, counting on the expertise of our travel advisors insures your greatest experience.
  • Confidence: Our clients rest easy knowing their personal preferences are reflected in every aspect of their itinerary, delivering the best value for their time and money.

At Andavo Travel, a Christopherson Company, our promise to our clients is to drive world class service through a foundation built on excellence, trust, integrity, loyalty, family, caring and community. Since our inception in 1956, our fundamental core company values reflect this philosophy and translate it into our daily business practices. For those who have a passion for travel, we invite you to take advantage of our specialized expertise and insider connections.
Thank you for being our valued client and for allowing us to service all your vacation travel needs.
Mike Cameron

Travel Management Travel News

Christopherson Andavo Travel Consolidates Ownership and Branding

Two years ago Christopherson Business Travel and Andavo Travel began a merger process, which formed the nation’s 14th largest travel management company.
We are pleased to announce that this process has now resulted in a fully merged company with consolidated ownership and branding. Effective June 1st, we will be operating our entire corporate travel management division under the name, Christopherson Business Travel.
As we emerge a single company, we want to ensure our Andavo Travel clients that the same travel advisors, account managers, and operations staff which they have come to know and trust will continue to service their travel needs. However, they will now enjoy the benefit of vast resources and tools of our combined operation and our integrated proprietary technologies.
We will continue to operate our leisure travel division and our independent contractor division under the Andavo name.
Brenda Rivers built the Andavo Travel business over the past eighteen years and we are proud of the legacy, people and value proposition she has established. We have been partners for the past two years and I have now purchased her interest in the corporate and leisure travel divisions of the company. Brenda will retain ownership of the Andavo Meetings and Incentives (AMI) division.

Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Tripit Pro

Tripit Pro is a robust, mobile application that works with your Android, Blackberry or iPhone based smartphone. Christopherson Andavo is an authorized Tripit Pro reseller. This means we can get you a huge discount on your Tripit Pro annual rate (huge = almost half off). The basic Tripit application is free, but if you choose to upgrade to Tripit Pro, you get:

  • Itinerary monitoring and travel alerts
  • Alternate flight option information
  • Point tracking systems for frequent flyer and hotel reward programs
  • Inner circles that allows travelers to automatically share every trip with key associates

Also, Tripit now supports Airtinerary, our proprietary approach to itinerary delivery. To import your Christopherson Andavo itinerary to Tripit, just forward your Airtinerary to It’s that easy.
To get your discount, contact your Christopherson Andavo account manager or agent to get a promotional code to use when signing up for Tripit Pro.
You can always find out more about Tripit by visiting their website at

Travel News

The not so friendly skies (warning! science content)

From one of my favorite sites comes some very interesting information to consider on your next long flight. Here is a teaser quote from Science@NASA:

Instruments scanning outer space for cataclysmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts are detecting intense flashes of gamma-ray energy right here in the friendly skies of Earth. These terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) surge through thunderstorms at about the same altitude where commercial airliners fly. Do these blasts of gamma-radiation pose a hazard to air travelers?

Read the full article (full of delicious science content) here:
P.S. – don’t let this stop you from booking your next international flight. The speculation is that we’re safe as the bursts are propagated upward, not horizontally toward all of us unsuspecting travelers. Phew!

Travel Management Travel Technology

TravelAcumen® – Travel Manager Suite

TravelAcumen® provides the Travel Manager access to robust travel management tools.


Over the years, Christopherson Andavo Travel has created a powerful group of proprietary technology tools for travel management. Most of these tools were developed to provide a solution to specific challenges that our clients presented to us.
We realized we needed a branded, single-sign-on portal that would provide travel managers keen insight into their travel program, all in real time.
We have now taken our technology to a whole new level by integrating ALL of our technology tools into two powerful travel portals:
AirPortal® ? Traveler Communication Suite
Communicates better with travelers to improve their travel experience

TravelAcumen® ? Travel Manager Suite
Reduces a company’s travel spend through improved travel management

  • AirBank® – Audit, catalog, enforce and report reuse of your unused tickets
  • Hotel & Car Re-Check® – Monitors lodging and transportation reservations for lower rates
  • HotelPrepayLogic™ – Secure payment for a hotel guest’s prior to check-in
  • ValueLogic® – Measure the ROI on your travel management program
  • SecurityLogic® – Global security and crisis management platform
  • ProfileLogic® – Advanced profile management
  • DataLogic® – Travel spend analytics
Travel Management Travel Technology

Innovation – Developing Successful New Products

The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “the Path to Developing Successful New Products”.
The WSJ surveyed businesses with the best product-development track records and found three common denominators:
     1. A clear sense of focus on project goals
     2. Strong project culture in the workplace
     3. Close contact to their customers
Christopherson Andavo Travel has been successful in developing many new proprietary technology products. I’m not sure if I can say that it is specifically because we have the above three strengths, however, I do recognize, at least, glimpses of each in our corporate culture.
Keep it Focused
We have been focused on developing really powerful proprietary technology for many years. Our 11 separate proprietary products and our continued investment in new technologies validates this.
Project Culture
This is an area we can improve in. We recognize this and our management team is in the midst of an entire “project management” training program and cultural makeover. We are using a program called “Just Enough Project Management”, written by Curtis R. Cook.
Talk to Customers
Some of our technology was developed to meet specific client’s unmet needs. Most of our technologies have one or more client “champions” who work directly with our developers to provide regular feedback and valuable input. We appreciate the partnerships

Travel Management Travel Technology

Reimbursement efficiencies with HotelPrepayLogic™

HotelPrepayLogic™ currently helps our clients securely and easily pay for non-employee hotel costs (think contract workers, interviewees, etc.) but it is also helping our clients recognize operational efficiencies with employee travel and the painful reimbursement process that follows.
Before HotelPrepayLogic™, our clients’ travelers would provide a personal credit card as a form of payment for their hotel guarantee. After travel was completed, the traveler would have to find the folio, expense it and wait to be reimbursed. On the accounting side, the reimbursement had to be verified, coded and completed, requiring manual intervention or oversight.
All this for something that presumably was approved by a supervisor before the booking was done.
That’s where HotelPrepayLogic™ comes in. Along with the other benefits, it provides two additional, nifty features for employee travel:

  1. It combines all hotel spend for the company. Instead of spend being spread out among all your travelers (with them getting the perks) it is done under one account, leveraging your buying power and potentially bringing in rebates that can offset your total travel program’s cost.
  2. It eliminates the reimbursement process. The one time use credit card is automatically created by HotelPrepayLogic™ for only the sum of the room, tax and any pre-approved incidental charges. All encoding information (up to six customizable fields) is then populated directly from the itinerary. No back and forth between the travel and accounting departments trying to determine how to code a specific trip.

HotelPrepayLogic™ has been driving a lot of savings for our current clients. Travel and accounting departments love it! We know it can save you time and money with your travel management program. Contact us to find out more.

Travel Management Travel Technology

Does your Company have a Unique Competitive Advantage?

Author and consultant Jaynie L. Smith asks this question. Businesses must differentiate between “unique competitive advantages” and strengths. While strengths are important they are not differentiators. You need strengths just to stay in business.
Most businesses tout advantages, when they’re really standard strengths and most likely clichés. One of the best examples of a worn-out cliché is “we exceed your expectations”. Every time I hear that claim I cringe. Doesn’t everyone do that now?
A timely and classic Warren Buffett quote is: “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” At Christopherson Andavo Travel we have built our business by doing things unique and better. This is the only way you are able to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace. Most of our competitors who thought they had “strengths” are either gone or they are much smaller than they were during the good times.
We have built our unique competitive advantage by differentiating the three legs of the TMC “value proposition stool”:
     1. Our agents
     2. Our account managers
     3. Our proprietary technology
We focus intently upon creating unique competitive advantages in all three areas. This is the only way you can grow your business during difficult economic times, or as Warren Buffet says “when the tide goes out.”

Travel Management Travel Technology

AirPortal® – Traveler Communication Suite

AirPortal® Screenshot

The genesis for AirPortal® came from the banking model. It occurred to us that everyone can access their banking transactions from one simple log-in. Whether you transact your banking on-line, use the drive-up window, go inside the bank, use mail or do it with electronic transfers, you can always find all of your banking transactions in one place. Conversely, access to your travel bookings is fragmented, depending on how, when and where you booked your travel.
AirPortal® gives you the ability to view all of your historical and future itineraries and travel data in one place with one log-in.
From that starting point, AirPortal® has gone through many upgrades and enhancements and has become Christopherson Andavo Travel’s exclusive travel portal which allows the business traveler the ability to manage all their travel needs from one simple login.

Travel Management Travel News

Upward Inflection Points in Christopherson’s Growth Story

Christopherson was recently recognized as number 21 of the 50 fastest growing companies in Utah. The award is based upon sales growth over a five year period (2004-2008).
We were asked to explain some of our company’s big revenue jumps and milestones. A review of our growth history shows a number of significant upward inflection points in our growth story:

  • 1996 – We opened a second office, in downtown Salt Lake City, and increased our sales 33% the following year.
  • 1998 – We grew 80% over 1997. This was largely a result of us entering the “client dedicated on-site” sector of the travel management business. We opened up travel offices inside Evans and Sutherland and CHG Healthcare. Today we have over 30 client dedicated travel on-sites located from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale.
  • 2001 – We moved into our new 42,000 square ft. building on the week of September 11th 2001. We essentially lost the 4th quarter’s sales and still ended the year with 17% sales growth over 2000.
  • 2004 – We reached $100 Million in sales/bookings for the first time.
  • 2005 – We entered the Denver, Colorado market by purchasing Travel Connections, a travel agency located in downtown Denver. This contributed to our 26% sales growth over 2004.
  • 2007 – We merged with Andavo Travel, with offices located in Denver and San Francisco.
  • 2009 – Christopherson Andavo Travel was ranked by Business Travel News as the 14th largest TMC in the U.S.
Travel News

We’re the 21st fastest growing company in Utah

Christopherson Business Travel was named as the 21st fastest growing company in Utah by Utah Business Magazine at the Fast 50 event.

Travel Management Travel Technology

How HotelPrepayLogicTM saves you money

HotelPrepayLogicTM does more than catch incorrect billings on prepaid hotels, it prevents it!
Here’s an example chain of events and how HotelPrepayLogicTM can save you money on your prepaid hotel transactions:

  • Hotel punches in credit card number from the automatically generated fax (check out here for how the fax is generated and sent).
  • They enter in an amount over the agreed upon rate in the travel agency reservation system (the traveler can’t keep the hotel honest, he doesn’t know the rate, nor does he care in most cases – he’s the client).
  • The card is denied.
  • Hotel calls the travel department number listed on the fax (in big bold numbers on the fax – in three places).
  • Hotel explains the card is denied.
  • Travel department looks up what they tried to charge and compares to the booked GDS rate.
  • Travel department informs that the booked hotel rate in itinerary was $65 less.
  • Hotel (sheepishly) admits it was wrong and knows that it needs to charge the agreed upon amount in the future.

Before HotelPrepayLogicTM, you don’t find out until you try to reconcile your travel reports with your credit card statements. By that time you may have to write off the difference.
To see a description of what HotelPrepayLogicTM does, check out this blog entry.

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

Introducing HotelPrepayLogicTM

A lot of our clients need to send credit card form of payment information to hotels for travelers who don’t have corporate cards. In travel speak this is called “prepaid hotels.”
There are a lot of reasons our clients do this – contractor or interview travel, an employee doesn’t have enough personal credit to put on their own card, they’re paying for a client and don’t want to bother the traveler with reimbursement, etc.
Prepaid hotels can be problematic in a couple areas.

  • First, hotels often require a front and back copy of the credit card to be charged. This requires a lot of manual work. You have to copy both sides of the card, manually add all the traveler’s information from the reservation system, find the fax number, print it out, and walk over to the fax machine to send it. Very time consuming.
  • Another problem is the credit card often will sit on the fax machine, at the hotel in a high traffic area (say the lobby). That can be bad if you’re using a corporate travel card with a $20 million dollar limit. It opens you up for a lot of fraud.

That’s why we built HotelPrepayLogicTM. We automatically (some would say automagically!) pull all traveler and hotel information from the GDS (global distribution system) APIs, create a one time use credit card through your credit card company (if we support them – but our list is growing), generate a PDF that includes an image of the front and back of the one time use credit card and then finally fax it. The fax is monitored and when determined successful it sends an email notification and documents the itinerary history in the GDS. It’s like science fiction, right?
The one time use credit card is locked down to a credit limit of just over room and tax and set to expire a few days after the traveler checks out. This limits fraud exposure. It also makes the travel agents or housing departments much more efficient. Both really good things.
If you want HotelPrepayLogicTM you have to become a client (but I promise, that is also a very, very good thing).
Check out an example PDF that is automatically faxed to a hotel (yah, we blacked out some of the information).

Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

AirBank® Connector for MySabre Enhancements

AirBank® is one of our most successful proprietary products preserving almost $1 million dollars worth of our clients unused tickets every month. We built it – from scratch. Like most unused ticket products, it automatically catalogs your unused tickets. But it doesn’t just stop there.
After all, what good is cataloging those unused tickets if your agent or on-line booking tool isn’t reusing them? Most agencies catalog your unused tickets in a profile or a spreadsheet and then do nothing with them until they expire. Not us. We store them in a centralized database and expose them to the agents and on-line booking engines via a web service and integrated point-of-sale tools.
We recently just released an upgrade to our AirBank Connector for MySabre with a more advanced ticket display table to help your agents make informed exchange decisions and reuse your tickets more effectively.
When an agent books a reservation, and you have an unused ticket, this is what pops up! Awesome, no?

Travel Management Travel Technology

AirSelect® – Marries personalized agent service with the efficiencies of online

Christopherson’s AirSelect® Flight Options Matrix was created by our in-house IT developers specifically in response to meet the needs of one of our top corporate booking agents, John Thomson.
John had his larynx removed as a result of throat cancer. We were all devastated. As a company we made a commitment to him, to find a way to protect his career. Because of this commitment, we needed to find a way for him to communicate travel options to his clients in an efficient manner. Our technology team created this technology, specifically for John. Something magical happened; John’s productivity increased. His clients loved the visual options and they were able to keep his personal service and expertise! Oh, and John was able to keep his job.
We created this solution because it was the right thing to do. It worked so well, we improved it, we branded it and we recently receive trademark approval from the U.S. Patent Office! We now make  it available to all of our full service clients.
PS: John is now the operations manager of our Salt Lake City business travel reservation center!

Travel Management Travel Technology

The Accidental Software Company

AirPortal®Provides the business traveler a single point of access
We never set out to be a software development company. The old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” played out for us here.
The genesis for AirPortal® came from the banking model. It occurred to us that everyone can access their banking transactions from one log-in. Whether you transact your banking on-line, use the drive-up window, go inside the bank, use the mail or do it with electronic transfers, you can always find all of your banking transactions in one place.
Conversely; access to your travel bookings is fragmented, depending on how and where you book your travel. AirPortal® was developed to match the convenience which on-line banking provides. It provides the business traveler a single point of access to all of their travel itineraries and data anywhere at any time.
Christopherson Andavo Travel, “The Accidental Software Company” has now built 11 proprietary travel technologies which have improved the travel management services for our 800 corporate clients across the U.S.

Travel Management Travel Technology

Contracted rates in AirSelect®

We all know how much value a dedicated travel agent can bring to your company’s travel program. But have you ever tried to get a comprehensive list of flight options over the phone? It takes a lot of time and isn’t very practical.
That’s why we developed AirSelect®. It allows the best of both worlds – a full service agent and flight pricing matrices that make it easy to choose your flights.
Recently we added support for any and all contracted rates – corporate, state, and federal government.
We have two different views, one that is more price centric (and more familiar to those who use some of the on-line leisure sites) and one that is more schedule based.

Travel Management Travel News

Economic Downturn Perpetuates TMC Consolidation

The current economic downturn has perpetuated the TMC consolidation which has been happening during the past decade.
There is a natural consolidation process which occurs in economic downturns. We have seen this taking place in the major markets we operate in; Salt Lake City, Denver and San Francisco. We have also seen the consolidation trend taking place at the national level.
Christopherson Andavo Travel’s ranking at #14 in the BTN Annual Business Travel Survey is reflective of our own growth through consolidation.
A review of the Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) statistics as of 5-31-09 shows the following trends:

  • There were 29,486 ARC locations as of 5-31-2001
  • There are 16,695 ARC locations as of 5-31-2009, a reduction of 43%
  • ARC sales are down 26% for the first five months of 2009
  • ARC locations are down 8% for the first five months of 2009
ARC Processing Data ? YTD as of May
2009 2008 2001
ARC Locations 16,695 18,084 29,485
Total Sales $28,007,936,882 $37,714,073,290 $34,052,812,000
Total Transactions 59,622,069 68,926,509 80,982,177


% Change
2009 / 2008 2009 / 2001
ARC Locations -8% -43%
Total Sales -26% -18%
Total Transactions -13% -26%
Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

AirPortal®, now served with Rearden Commerce

Travel is a pretty data intensive industry. There is a lot to keep track of. One thing that makes it even worse is that the data and systems are so disparate (um, that would be disparate, not desperate – although one could argue at times they are both, hehe).
You have your itinerary in one system, your booking engine in another, your corporate reports in yet another. It just keeps going.
That’s why we developed AirPortal®. We want to provide a single login for all your travel needs.
Where it makes sense, we also want to provide you access to other tools directly from AirPortal®. That’s why, if your company chooses, we can integrate AirPortal® directly with any of four world-class, on-line booking tools: ResX, GetThere, Cliqbook, and now Rearden Commerce.

Travel News Travel Technology – now in “HD”

We’ve made a recent layout change to We went from SD (standard definition) to HD (high definition). Ok, we really didn’t go from analog to digital, nor did we change our aspect ratio (well, that may be a little closer to the truth).
What we did is increase our layout width from being optimized for a lowest common screen resolution of 800×600 to now be optimized for screens 1024×768 and greater. We track our visitors screen resolutions and over the last year noticed that a very small (2.28% small) had screen resolutions of 800×600 or less.
The best part about the wider layout is it gets us ready for some new proprietary products we’ll be integrating into AirPortal®, our exclusive travel portal that allows you to manage all your travel needs from one simple login. Stay tuned!

Travel News Travel Technology

1,000,000 Airtineraries®

We just sent our millionth Airtinerary®.  What’s an Airtinerary®?  It’s Christopherson Andavo’s approach to itinerary layout and delivery.  It was developed from scratch, right here, by us. There are a lot of reasons why we think it is the best itinerary delivery system around. Here are our favorite three:

  • We translate everything – we went to great lengths to take the mystery out of all those countless travel acronyms. That means no more guessing on class of service, airport codes, aircraft types, etc.
  • We’ve got links – online check-in links, hotel map links, off airport car rental location map links, and where it makes sense, links that give you automatically calculated directions between segments.
  • Calendar attachment – we include all your relevant itinerary data and then make sure it works with the most email clients around by using the iCalendar standard.

You can always read more about Airtinerary® here.

Travel News

Christopherson Andavo Travel Ranks #14 in the BTN Annual Business Travel Survey

Business Travel News has ranked Christopherson Andavo Travel #14 among all participating travel management companies. The data used to rank the agencies was independently verified by ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation), which is the airline ticketing clearinghouse for all travel agencies and airlines. Air transaction counts excluded refunds, exchanges and voids.
The ranking was the first to reflect the combined operations of Christopherson Business Travel of Salt Lake City, Utah and Andavo Travel of Denver, Colorado. The two companies merged on January 28, 2008. The merger agreement between the two travel management firms combined operations to form one of the largest travel management firms in the United States and the largest national BCD Travel affiliate.
The merged company has over 220 team members, 35 offices and supports more than $250 million in annual travel bookings. Christopherson Andavo Travel provides intelligent travel management to more than 600 successful companies.
“We are pleased to see how the merger has placed us in a Super Regional status and has set the stage for us to continue to grow in this highly competitive market”, said Mike Cameron Co-CEO. “The merger was done for strategic reasons and has put us in a position where we are now qualified for larger travel management bids. We are currently implementing 6-8 new clients in states from coast-to-coast.”

Travel Management Travel News

Business Travel Downturn

There has been a sizable cutback in business travel during the recent economic downturn. We’ve seen many of our clients reduce their business travel budgets in the 20+ percent range. I’ve spoken to many of my associates, who own travel management companies around the country. They’re all seeing about the same percentage of client travel reductions.

Business travel tends to be a leading economic indicator. It is one of the first expenses a company reduces during an economic downturn and conversely, it tends to be one of the first things to go up during an economic expansion.

We have been fortunate because we have been increasing our market share, during the past six months, which has offset some of the travel reductions from our existing clients.

There is a certain amount of mission critical travel which can’t be avoided. We have seen our clients respond to the need to cut their travel costs in many ways.

The first trend is simply cost avoidance. Companies can “avoid” travel in many ways:

  1. Meeting alternatives. We are seeing more clients hold meetings using web conferencing tools like WebEx and GoToMeeting®.
  2. Training the trainer. Some Clients are sending fewer people to a training conference and then come back and train their teams.
  3. Shorten the trip. Clients are packing more meetings into a shorter period of time to trim an extra day’s expense on the hotel and car rental.
  4. Cancel incentive trips. This is partially in response to our government’s portrayal of AIG’s and other financial services industry incentive trips.

The second trend we have seen is clients are moving down the value chain. Clients who used to allow business and first class travel overseas have restricted their policy to only allow coach travel. Clients who used to stay at the higher priced hotel chains are moving down to the more moderately priced hotels. We’re seeing clients rent smaller cars and rent them with the less expensive off-airport car rental companies.

The third trend we’re seeing is clients are using this opportunity to renegotiate their contracts with their travel vendors. Most airlines have cut their capacity to right-size their “available seats” with the reduced travel demand. Hotels and car rental companies can’t do that as easily. With empty hotel rooms and lots of car rental inventory our clients have been able to get better deals.

Business cycles come and go. The successful companies are the ones who can respond quickly without affecting the value they provide to their customers. They will be stronger when the economy turns around… and it will!