Business and Leadership Executive Q and A

Executive Q&A: Christopherson’s COO Talks About Delivering the Right Service Experiences for the Future

Next up in our Executive Q&A series is an interview with Christopherson’s Chief Operations Officer, Nathan McClellan. Nathan shared his optimism for the future of business travel as well as what’s needed in order to deliver the right service experiences for that future.

Q: In a recent leadership meeting, you outlined three things management team members can express to effectively lead their teams—reality, vision, and hope. Can you share a bit more about how those three things can help us all as our industry recovers?

A: I have always liked the quote attributed to Napoleon who said, “The leader’s role is to define reality, then give hope.” Reality is seeing the world as it actually is. Defining reality creates trust within the organization that its challenges are known, understood, and quantified. This need not be bleak, nor should it be covered up. 

A leader’s role is also to give hope. Hope provides confidence that positive outcomes are achievable. When leaders cast the vision for employees, outline the path forward, and set clear expectations, hope is felt.

As the travel industry recovers, new challenges arise. Every leadership challenge has its own set of constraints. Constraints catalyze creativity. People are the source of creativity. When people understand the problems and are engaged in their work, good things happen. Defining reality and giving hope fosters this environment. This simple leadership skill can turn into a very tangible competitive advantage.

Q: Why do you feel hope and optimism for the future of Christopherson and business travel in general?

A: Conducting business face-to-face remains as essential for companies now as it did before the pandemic. It is true some travel will be displaced through technology and virtual interactions. However, business conferences, networking events, sales calls, special projects, consulting engagements, and recruiting trips, to name a few, still have value. 

Company policies regarding when travel will take place are evolving, but travel itself is a mainstay. Companies will leverage future travel as an investment in their business with a clear ROI, as opposed to simply viewing it as an expense. This type of purposeful travel recognizes that personal relationships enable companies to transact business. 

I am optimistic for our industry because of the power behind these relationships. Travel is a key component for building and leveraging relationships. 

I am also optimistic for our own company due to the investment we are making to meet the expectations and demand of the future while also reinforcing our own relationship-based service model.

Q: What changes are you seeing in operations as recovery begins and business travel rebounds? 

A: The service industry is shifting from a transactional model to a consultative model. This is true whether engaging in a digital or human channel. Travelers are increasingly comfortable with technology to book their own trips. This is ideal for simple itineraries. When things become more complex, customers want the confidence of working with a trusted professional. 

A next generation travel advisor cannot simply be an order taker possessing technical proficiency and industry knowledge. They must also be problem solvers, offer useful advice, consult proactively, and take ownership of the traveler experience. 

A next generation digital experience will use predictive analytics to streamline the interaction, anticipate customer needs, match preferences, and optimize the traveler journey.

Q: Christopherson has communicated that it’s undergoing a human and digital transformation. Both of these things affect operations. How are you and your team positioning your side of the transformation? 

A: Operations is an exciting part of a company where the human transformation and digital transformation come together to create the best possible service experience for customers. Many companies have perfected the human experience, and others have mastered the digital experience. Few, if any, are able to deliver on both. Enter Christopherson Business Travel. 

Our investment in the digital transformation is two-fold. First, we are investing in the technology used at traveler touch-points to make things easy for our customers. Second, we are investing in behind-the-scenes technology to facilitate the service experience. This is how the human transformation and digital transformation come together. The easier we make it for our employees to take good care of our customers, the more likely we are to consistently achieve this goal. 

In addition to our technology enabled human transformation, we have also restructured our organization to focus on the human-to-human customer experience. The tenets of our coaching framework enable advisors to create positive connections with customers, create trust and confidence, and create value. This approach seamlessly integrates both the digital and human components of our business transformation efforts.

Q: Why is accessibility/availability so important for customers and how is Christopherson making it happen? 

A: Our goal in operations is to provide the right service in the right moment. We don’t choose those moments. The customer dictates the terms of an interaction. They determine when to contact us, in which channel to contact us, and whom to contact. The role of operations is to be available to provide an excellent experience whenever, and wherever those interactions take place. 

Online interactions are managed through automation. Offline interactions require a human touch. Metrics like accessibility and availability enable Christopherson to more accurately forecast our staffing needs to accommodate anticipated business volume. They also ensure we do a better job matching the utilization of our existing staff to the contact arrival patterns of our customers. This translates to a better experience for customers who can quickly have their needs resolved. 

Our travel advisors are the ones making this happen. We have invested heavily in creating an environment of intrinsic motivation where employees use self-discovery and self-management to maintain high levels of engagement. Engaged employees give discretionary effort to their work and exude a love for what they are doing. Our customers notice the Christopherson difference.

Q: What is your vision for the future of Christopherson’s operations? 

A: Our vision in Operations is to continuously improve our capabilities. It’s one thing to talk about continuous improvement, and another to build the kind of infrastructure where it permeates our DNA. Someone once said, “a good customer experience anywhere changes customer expectations everywhere.” 

The service experience of the future is evolving quickly. Walker Information, an experience management consulting firm, has noted that the furiously fast pace of innovation will continue and that customers expect companies to keep up. 

Our vision at Christopherson is not only to keep up, but to set the pace. We can’t do this by relying only the things that have made us successful so far. We are never done getting better. This environment of constant refinement requires a commitment to change across the entire organization. Accomplishing this vision starts by increasing our advisor capability, followed by expanding our customer capability, and finally by growing our operational capability.

Q: Nathan, thank you for sharing your thoughts about Christopherson’s operations. One final question just for fun: What’s your favorite travel destination and why?

A: The more I travel, the more I learn about the world around me. The more I learn about the world around me, the more I want to travel. It is a virtuous cycle. Traveling to Thailand exemplifies everything I love about travel. It’s rich in natural beauty and culture. 

For western societies, Thailand has been a well-kept secret—although I think it is starting to get out. In addition to the jungle scenery, mountain terrain, vibrant cities, and delicious miniature pineapples, I am most impressed with the people. Thai people are some of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met. Yes, the country as a whole is amazing, but it is the people that make it beautiful. Through them, I have been inspired to become better myself.

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Business and Leadership Business Travel Choice Humanitarian Press Release

Christopherson Receives CHOICE Humanitarian’s Corporate Impact Award

SALT LAKE CITY – June 23, 2021 – Christopherson Business Travel received the Corporate Impact Award from CHOICE Humanitarian at their 13th Annual Breakfast of Humanitarians, held June 17.

For more than 25 years, Christopherson has supported CHOICE Humanitarian’s mission to end extreme poverty in remote and under-served communities around the world.

According to CHOICE Humanitarian Board Member and Volunteer Chief Financial Officer Bret Backman, the corporate impact award “recognizes a corporate partner that has really gone above and beyond in supporting CHOICE and its programs. Christopherson Business Travel has been a committed business partner of CHOICE Humanitarian for more than 25 years.”

Through a commitment to quality-of-life improvements in the broader community, Christopherson enables voluntary employee contributions to CHOICE and provides a 2:1 match. The company also sends a rotating group of employees on a week-long, international humanitarian expedition each year. 

“They firmly believe [in] sharing the wealth and taking care of the global community,” continued Backman. “Christopherson also offers travel services for our expeditions . . . through their CV Humanitarian Travel [division] and helping get the best prices for our travelers and also returning part of the proceeds to CHOICE.”

Christopherson’s involvement with CHOICE began when CEO Mike Cameron participated in one of their expeditions to a small village in central Mexico with two of his brothers, three of their sons, and their father. After experiencing how CHOICE carries out its model in the field, Cameron selected CHOICE as the non-profit organization Christopherson would work with and became a corporate partner. 

“We’ve had all sorts of opportunities to be blessed as a family by serving and participating with CHOICE,” Cameron said. “There is no better way for your employees to build relationships than to go on a company humanitarian expedition.”

Cameron also notes that “as a father and grandfather, it is incomprehensible to watch children go to bed hungry.” He concluded his award acceptance with a quote from his granddaughter, Alyssa Murray, after her CHOICE expedition to Guatemala: “I thought I was going to help end poverty and change the lives of people, but in the end they changed mine. They taught me how to be happy, they taught me how to be happy with very little. We all have an opportunity to come together and learn from each other.”


Christopherson Business Travel, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the independently owned leader in business travel management, digital travel tools, and business travel resources. With more than 350 team members located across the country, Christopherson supported $687 million in annual travel bookings in 2019 for more than 1,000 successful companies and organizations. Christopherson is an affiliate of BCD Travel. To learn more, visit

Business and Leadership Business Travel Executive Q and A

Executive Q&A: Christopherson’s CRO Shares What Companies Really Need From TMCs

Next up in our Executive Q&A series is an interview with Christopherson’s new Chief Revenue Officer, Kathleen Roberts. She shares her thoughts on what organizations really need from corporate travel management companies, the value of partnership, and the opportunities that lie ahead for the business travel industry.


Kathleen Roberts, CRO at Christopherson Business Travel

Q: As we come through to the other side of the pandemic, there seems to be a shift occurring in how organizations manage their business travel. Can you share your insights on what you’re seeing as you help these organizations find solutions?

A: The majority of business trips taken during the pandemic have been business critical. As companies prepare for a broader return to travel we are seeing increased interest in traveler safety and well-being, as well as the employees’ overall disposition to traveling again. The sharp decline in 2020 travel budgets is leading to increased awareness from finance and leadership around the value of each trip. And while the industry has made significant advances in duty of care, there are new expectations emerging. These factors are leading to an increase in pre-trip authorization requirements, ease of access to planning tools and travel vendor safety information, and improved risk-management resources.

Q: What seems to be most important right now for organizations as they revamp their travel programs?

A: Travel policy. Historically, travel policy review often centered around cost-savings and reimbursement. The current environment requires a more holistic approach involving additional topics and stakeholders. HR, security, and legal teams may become involved or at least topics relating to the areas of traveler safety, risk management, and liability.

Q: What do you think is the greatest value a travel management company (TMC) brings to the table to meet these pressing needs?

A: Partnership. By using a TMC, organizations are able to consolidate travel spend, vendor negotiations, risk management, policy compliance, data, and reporting into a trusted partnership. They gain integrations with industry-leading technology, improved traveler experience, and significant cost savings. We’re able to customize travel programs that align with our customers’ culture and corporate objectives. We’re then able to quantify the value of our partnership through detailed scorecards and traveler surveys.

Q: You’ve worked in travel for a while—what are the biggest opportunities you see today in business travel?

A: Consolidation. The pandemic has organizations of every size evaluating how they purchase and manage travel. Existing customers that allowed outside booking methods are directing travelers to utilize our services to ensure program consistency, compliance, and consolidation. Prospective clients with travel budgets of various sizes and who have not previously worked with a TMC are eager to engage with us. They found themselves facing numerous challenges at the start of the pandemic and are seeking a better solution post-pandemic. Providing the benefits of a managed travel program and assisting them with developing solutions that address organizational requirements, improve the traveler experience, and help them prepare to return to travel is absolutely rewarding for both parties.

Q: Not only have you worked in travel for a while, but you’ve been with Christopherson for 15 years now. How has the company changed or evolved?

A: Growth. I joined the Christopherson team in 2006 as they became the largest travel company in the state of Utah with $125 million in annual bookings. We ended 2019 at nearly $700 million and in the top 15 travel firms nationally. While 2020 was a detour from our revenue growth, we successfully implemented 96 new accounts last year, most of which have yet to resume traveling. With a solid financial plan in place, we have maintained our momentum and growth strategy.

Q: As a sales executive, you traveled frequently before COVID. Why do you think travel is so important for doing business?

A: Relationships. Virtual meetings have provided valuable connection throughout the pandemic, but they’re not a substitute for in-person interaction. The following scenario may be overused, but it’s a valid point: “Once the person who presents over webinar loses a deal to the competitor who presented in person, they’ll get back out on the road.” This applies beyond sales to include most business interactions. The Global Business Travel Association reported in their January 2021 survey results that 49 percent of business travelers are currently “somewhat willing or very willing” to travel for business. As the vaccine rollout continues, I expect that percentage to increase.

Q: And finally, just for fun, what are your favorite business and leisure travel destinations?

A: Business travel has taken me to exciting places that I may not have otherwise experienced. Memorable business trips in recent years included traveling to interact with Christopherson team members in Colorado and Alabama. I’ve also enjoyed amazing leisure travel experiences. Some of my highlights include Africa, Australia, and Europe. But I think my first post-pandemic, international vacation might be my most appreciated. I’m ready to travel again!

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Business and Leadership Business Travel Executive Q and A

Executive Q&A: Christopherson’s CEO Reflects on the Past, Present, & Future

As we begin a New Year, we took the opportunity to sit down with our CEO, Mike Cameron, to reflect on the challenges of 2020, learn how Christopherson is currently doing, and get his take on what he sees for the future.


Mike Cameron, CEO of Christopherson Business Travel

Q: Mike, as you reflect on the last year, what are your thoughts about what we’ve collectively been through? 

A: Early on I used a metaphor with our team that enduring COVID-19 would be like driving through the long tunnels in Switzerland where there is no obvious end in sight but you have confidence that that part of the journey is temporary and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been just as confident there will be light at the end of this tunnel. The vaccines have definitely created some visible light.

When the pandemic hit, we had to be decisive, conservative, and compassionate. We immediately made a pivot from our growth strategy to a protection strategy–one that protected our people, our clients, and our customer experience–while also protecting our cash.

Although it has been painful, I’ve had a calm feeling during the past ten months that our strategy was solid, our liquidity was adequate, and we were going to come out stronger and better than before the pandemic began. Fortunately, we are still ahead of the plan.

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult aspects of the year? 

A: As a family owned company,?we had?to reach deep into our souls?to?accept the reality of what was happening?and?find?solutions that would be as compassionate?as possible,?but?also?realistic to ensure that the company would survive. My wife and I had to make?the most difficult?decisions we’ve made?in our 30 years of owning the business. It was gut-wrenching to ask our team members to embrace sacrifices that would impact their personal lives in dramatic ways.

We took decisive action and made the necessary furloughs, layoffs, and pay cuts all at once in that first week as the pandemic wreaked havoc in the U.S. We got some bad press for doing so, but we have since been able avoid making any more significant personnel changes relating to the economic pressures of COVID-19.

Decisive action early on also gave us the luxury of steadily improving things over the last 11 months. It allowed us to avoid the alternative of asking our employees to face continual rounds of layoffs or “death by a thousand cuts.” I believe this helped make our team’s morale more positive, and thankfully, we still have more than 50% of our team intact even though our bookings are less than 25% of 2019’s.

Q: How do the challenges 2020 brought compare to previous challenges Christopherson and the travel industry have faced?? 

A: Previous challenges, including the airline commission cuts that began in 1995, the launch of Expedia (the first major online travel competitor) in 1996, the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and the financial collapse in 2008 were nothing compared to last year. We were able to adapt and navigate the other four major challenges with relative ease. In 30 years we never had a non-profitable year or even a half-year until 2020.

That said, we’re prepared to lose money, or as I like to call it, “make investments,” in 2020 and 2021. We hope to be profitable again in Q4 of 2021 and for sure by 2022. In either case, we’re prepared to make whatever investments are necessary.

Q: Did anything positive come out of 2020 for Christopherson? 

A: There has been so much positive that came out of our most difficult year ever. We started with a focus on managing the travel crisis, taking care of our people, and stabilizing the business. As soon as we felt confident that we had a solid plan for long-term viability, we started investing in strategies to be leaner, smarter, and better.

To be leaner, we created a smaller footprint with less office overhead. To be smarter, we eliminated costs that didn’t create value and replaced some of the technology we previously built with best-in-class, third-party alternatives. To be better, we began reinventing a better digital and human customer experience.

Q: How does Christopherson stand today as a company? 

A: We now have more people working on our team than we had after the initial layoffs and furloughs. We’ve called some team members back, and we’ve also recruited from outside for the digital reinvention in which we’re investing. We still have the liquidity to weather the rest of the storm.

Q: What do you think are the greatest impacts the pandemic had on the travel industry? 

A: The most significant by far is the human cost. The layoffs, furloughs, and compensation reductions have impacted tens of millions of people in what was previously a fairly stable, robust industry. There are countries and even U.S. states where travel and tourism was their leading economic driver. It has been devastating for everyone.

Q: What are your goals for Christopherson in the coming year and beyond? 

A: Two weeks before the pandemic began, we had just announced a billion-dollar booking/sales goal. Frankly, it didn’t seem like much of a stretch, based on our 30-year trajectory. What a difference two weeks makes! We know we will be back on track soon to reach that goal. We’ve had bit of a detour, but our journey forward will be more secure with us being leaner, smarter, and better.

Q: In your opinion, what should companies do to position themselves for success in 2021? 

A: At a high level, don’t forget about the people that helped you become successful and don’t forget about the strategies that made you successful. While many of the cost cuts everyone made were necessary to survive the crisis, don’t assume that they can all be permanent. Some will be because we had to become smarter.

To that point, even travel cuts, which were made for safety reasons and did provide budget-cut benefits, will not likely all be permanent. While we probably won’t see many people traveling for a one-hour internal meeting because Zoom is a much better alternative, when it comes to winning new business, organizations will quickly see the ROI on travel when a competitor does their presentation in person and you do yours on Zoom. We may also find that where some organizations bring their teams together for collaboration, engagement, or performance rewards, and others don’t, Zoom may be a losing strategy when trying to outpace competitors. Ultimately, no one knows how much travel will be forever reduced.

Q: What new opportunities do you think the pandemic opened up? 

A: The pandemic accelerated digital adoption. It transformed business forever and created both the need and the opportunity for travel management companies, or any company really, to accelerate and transform their own digital and human customer experience in order to remain competitive.

Those who have the ability to meet that need will be more successful than others. Those who can find the right blend of both a digital and human customer experience service model will grow faster than others. We can no longer do business as usual.

Read more Executive Q&As here. 

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:

Business and Leadership Business Travel

How to Live a Championship Life? Dr. Kevin Elko

It’s a new year and one of my resolutions is to attend more motivational seminars in 2017. Last month I attended a motivational conference at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery Alabama.  Led by Dr. Kevin Elko, he is a world renowned performance consultant, speaker and author.  Elko has worked with professional sports teams Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. He also has consulted with BCS National Championship footbal teams including; the University of Alabama, LSU, FSU, and the University of Miami.

In the business world, Dr. Elko focuses on helping organizations in the areas of leadership, goal setting, and various other motivational topics. His corporate clients have included; ING, Tyson Foods, Abbott Labs, LPL Financial, The Hartford, Genworth, Jackson National Life, Pioneer Investments, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Sun Life, just to mention a few.

The theme of the night was ‘How to Live a Championship Life?’. What a great motivation for the new year! Several of the takeaways could be directly applied to 2017 and the many years to come.

How To Live A Championship Life

  • Learn to talk to yourself – Be your own motivation.
  • Decide – Decide to be positive, Decide not to complain, Decide to be a better friend, parent, co-worker, spouse.
  • Be a blessing to someone.
  • Write more handwritten “Thank you notes.”
  • Enjoy Life!

Dr. Elko is the author of four books, Nerves of Steel, The Pep Talk, True Greatness: Mastering the Inner game of Business Success and Touchdown: Achieving Your Greatness on the Playing Field of Business and Life.


Business and Leadership Business Travel

Professional Tip: How To Make A Positive First Impression

I recently had the pleasure of attending GBTA-North Carolina’s Education Day. This year’s theme ‘Let’s Get Personal’, kept the interest of the audience for the entire day. The first session on Body Language in Business was conducted by Tanis Roeder, owner of Elevate Your Communication. The 90-minute segment focused on how to improve your first impression with five main areas. Many of these tips can be done even before you say a word.

5 Ways To Make A Positive Impression

1- Friendly and Engaged Face
• Eye contact can lead to likability and can set you apart from others.
• A genuine smile with wrinkles around the eyes is powerful.
• Signs of listening include nodding, tilting head and leaning inward slightly.

2- Open Gestures
• Hands should always be open.
• Gestures to use occasionally include; interlaced fingers to show you are listening, steeple hands to show confidence, and hands on your face to show engagement.
• Some gestures to avoid are pointing, hands over your mouth, hands on hips and hands in pockets.

3- Confident Handshake
• Handshakes are important as they help you develop rapport with the person you are speaking with and also help you remember names.
• There is a correct way to shake someone’s hand. Your palm must meet the palm of the person’s hand you are shaking.

4- Thoughtful Stance
• Men tend to stand more to the side while women stand face-to-face.
• A space bubble of four feet is appropriate for business, while between 12 inches and four feet is more appropriate for social settings.

5- Engaged Seated Position
• Appropriate seated positions included legs straight or crossed toward your audience with arms at your side.
• It is best to avoid crossing your arms in front (too submissive) and crossing your arms overhead (too confident).

Studies show that 85% of our communication comes from non-verbal queues.  If you can send the right message before you even begin speaking, you know you are on the right track for the rest of the conversation.

Blogs to read next:

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.

Business and Leadership Travel Industry Travel Management

Increasing Compliance With Your Millennial Business Travelers

In case you haven’t noticed, the Millennial generation have recently become the butt of  jokes at conferences, twitter chats, and professional gatherings. Millennials, or Generation Ys,  are the most recent generation to enter the workforce. Currently in their early 20s – early 30s, they are putting the traditional workforce into a spin with their differing work styles and priorities. Whether you are from the camp believing they have a productive work ethic or they are self-entitled children, we as a society need to learn how to adjust our work environments to productively work with them. As Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors of the book ‘Managing Generation Y’ said “Organizations that can’t – or won’t customize training, career paths, incentives, and work responsibilities need a wake up call.”

Millennial Generation Characteristics

  • Millennials expect everything to be customizable to their preferences. If they don’t like their profile picture on Facebook, they change it. They can have just about anything shipped directly to their house. It’s how our world works now; almost everything is customizable and instantaneous. The difference is they’ve grown up with the expectation that if you don’t like something, there is always another solution available.  
  • They are on average highly educated, but value a higher work-life balance. This often makes them appear lazy and lacking respect when they take long lunches or work from home.
  • Growing up with computers and quickly advancing technology, they are quick learners to new technology and can easy adjust to new protocols or changes in the company.
  • They value experiences, especially travel. Millennials can make the best roadwarriors. Every city they enter is new and full of promise.
  • Sharing these experiences are highly valued. Why go to a new city and not take pictures?
  • Communication is important, but not in the traditional sense. Good luck getting them on the phone. They are more apt to sending a email or text than leave a voicemail.

Millennials and Reporting Compliance

Regarding travel management, Millennials have the highest rate of non-compliance. According to Tim Hines, the presenter at a Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association luncheon, they average 46% compliance. Compared to Baby Boomers, who are on average 80% compliant, the difference is concerning. If Millennials are always connected, why are they so bad at reporting their travel expenses? Well, the devil may be in the details here. Often the reporting process is lengthy or slow. For a group that expects results instantaneously, this can be a giant hurdle.   If you need something done, it should have a quick and easy approach.

6 Tips For Improving Compliance Rates:

  • Allow customization of the reporting platform and the ability to make adjustments.
  • Make the process as automated as possible. Use text alerts or automatic updates.
  • Enhance traveler experience, possibly with incenetives.
  • Leverage social tools, like Concur, TripIt, or Airtinerary.
  • Explore alternative communication methods like Twitter, Google Chat or Slack. Providing additional channels may open up lines of communication you didn’t know was needed.
  • Put them in charge of creating a new system for regulating compliance. They are quick to learn new technology. If they are responsible for finding something that will work for them, compliance will certainly be higher.
Business and Leadership Travel Industry

Christopherson Is A SAP Concur Preferred Partner

One of the key differentiating factors for Christopherson Business Travel is our SAP Concur Preferred Partner status. Though this is one of our most beneficial components, it is often overlooked by prospective travel managers or business travelers. Working closely with the leading spend management provider allows us to further provide our clients with easy and affordable online travel management solutions. Their cloud-based services allows for updates and upgrades automatically. Combine that with our top-of-the-line integrations to our own travel technology means our clients are always supported, no matter the situation.

What makes a SAP Concur Preferred Partner:

  • Fully aligned with SAP Concur’s mission and vision, and consistently collaborate with the SAP Concur team
  • Market leaders in the industry, committed to driving innovation for their clients
  • Fully supportive of SAP Concur’s business traveler suite of solutions
  • Connected with SAP Concur sales and business development teams to ensure complete alignment
  • Proactively engaged in key industry events and initiatives

We were one of the first SAP Concur Preferred Partners, an exclusive membership that includes only 25 partners worldwide. SAP Concur Preferred Partners achieve the platform benefits of full, open technological integration. This enables us to offer our clients comprehensive service and the ability to evolve with the industry and our client’s growing travel needs. We currently manage more than 800 sites for more than 650 companies using SAP Concur.

Christopherson is a longtime direct reseller of SAP Concur, our clients are assured of high-quality service, responsive interaction, and an on-time implementation and transition. Most importantly, Christopherson has two specialized teams to build, customize, and maintain our client booking sites. These teams are ready to provide prompt and insightful assistance to travelers with navigational and system questions via phone or email.

“Christopherson Business Travel was one of our original TMC Partners to earn the Preferred Partner designation. This is due primarily to their leading edge in-house technical capabilities and their ability to successfully build out an API to Concur which allows for a robust data exchange process. Christopherson was also one of the first agencies to be TripLink certified and they are an active participant on our Preferred Partner Advisory Board. Their Executive team from the CEO down are some of the finest and well respected professionals in the industry and I truly enjoy working with them as a Concur TMC Preferred Partner.” —Will Elliott, Senior Alliance Manager, Concur

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Professional Tip: Body Language Shapes More Than You Think

In attempt to motivate and instill confidence in a fellow business professional, I recommended the TedTalk presentation, ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ by Amy Cuddy. Though I had seen it before I decided to watch it again and I’m so glad I did! Her presentation holds a very valuable professional tip, backed by science, credibility and passion. Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Business School, who has dedicated her life to uncovering the subconscious traits our bodies communicate to others.

In this inspiring Ted Talk, she explains that our body language defines who we are to others. With slopped shoulders we appear submissive. With crossed arms we convey not being open to new perspectives. Conversely, standing tall will make us appear more in control. But Cuddy says body language can effect more than just the perceptions of others. Her research uncovered how our body language effects our physiology. You read that correctly, our body chemistry changes based on the way we hold ourselves.  How can we use this to our benefit? Feeling nervous before a big meeting or proposal? Or maybe just a little unsure before a networking event? Stand in a ‘power pose’ to change your mindset. I wont spoil the entire video for you, but certain poses make you more confident, emotionally, socially and physiologically.

If you haven’t watched this video yet, you’re in for a treat. Even if you have seen it before, I highly recommend a second viewing. Whether you are a struggling with a difficult client, nervous about attending a networking event, or just need a self-confidence boost every once and awhile, you will find a valuable take away in this video. It’s 20-minutes long but worth the time out of your day.  Enjoy!

Read Next:

7 Tips For Staying Productive On Business Trips 

Tips For Staying In Shape While Traveling

Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Management

Concerns for Corporations using Public Online Booking Sites

Sure, it’s quick and easy for business travelers to search for flights on public travel websites.  Watching the ticket price continually drop in front of your eyes; it’s hard to believe there’s a better deal anywhere else! But in the end that’s not always the truth. Both the traveler and their employer are missing out on additional benefits when they use public booking sites for business travel. There are many variables that play a part in efficient travel service and price, many are often overlooked in the process of using those simple public online booking sites.

What you need to know about public online booking sites

  • Hidden transaction fees. Some sites include their transaction fees in a small hidden link called “additional taxes & fees”.  Users assume those are sales taxes, etc., but in some cases, an additional transaction fee is also slipped in.
  • Hotel cancellation fees and discounts. Yes, there are great hotel prices on public sites.  But those are usually non-refundable, non-changeable and you have to pre-pay the full stay.  Even if you end up cancelling once, those charges often outweigh any savings you attained throughout the whole year. If you end up cancelling only one hotel stay in a entire year, those charges can outweigh any savings you attained throughout the year.
  • No duty of care.  There is a moral and legal obligation for employers to know where their employees are when traveling for the company. Employees must email their employers their itinerary.  Who manages that? The traveler’s boss?  The travel manager?  The office manager?  In the event of an emergency,  who in the company will be digging through their emails to determine if their traveler is in harm’s way. Public online booking sites are not equipped for handling duty of care responsibilities.
  • Poor after-hours care.  Who wants to call an 800 number at 10pm when the snowstorm hits the Eastern seaboard and every other traveler is doing the exact same thing? Hold times are outrageous.  On top of your personality sanity, these public booking websites don’t know what your company’s policy is around re-booking flights.
  • No built-in travel policy.  What stops your traveler from booking the Four Seasons or Business Class on a public site?  What stops your traveler from booking the $400 flight on Delta when there is a similar flight on United for only $310?  We’d all like to think that our employee will “do the right thing”, but that’s not always the case.

Public online sites may seem like the easiest and cheapest route for corporations, but in the long run these corporations are falling short.  Travel management companies on the other hand give travelers the tools they need to make the correct choices for booking their business trips.  Pricing is transparent and policies are followed.  The company’s travel policy is built in to the online booking tool so the traveler can choose the best option within the company’s guidelines.  And if a flight is cancelled or delayed, the traveler will receive prompt and friendly assistance from an agent that knows the company and knows the traveler.  In the event of an emergency or disaster, the company can quickly locate and alert each and every traveler and assist those travelers when in need.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience in the field. We pride ourselves on our efficient travel technology and consultative customer service.

Read Next-

The Downside of Using Online Booking Sites

What Is Duty Of Care

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 and Leadership Travel News

Christopherson Business Travel Named No. 1 Woman-Owned Company in Colorado

Christopherson Business Travel has been ranked as the No. 1 Woman-Owned Company in Colorado by ColoradoBiz Magazine.

Three members of the Christopherson team (Allyson Cross, Business Development Executive; Jess Bautista, Account Manager; & Krista Maurer, Marketing Manager) attended a reception honoring the Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies to have made the list, on behalf of Christopherson’s owners Mike and Camille Cameron. Christopherson was also an associate sponsor of the event where the rankings were unveiled.

Christopherson team members L-R: Allyson Cross (Business Development Executive), Krista Maurer (Marketing Manager), and Jess Bautista (Account Manager) attended the award reception and had a great time being “on the cover” in the ColoradoBiz photo booth.

The reception was held at Redline Gallery in downtown Denver and featured a panel discussion on branding and marketing. Members of the panel included Nadine Pietrowski, CEO of Crowe GHP Horwath; Natascha Hubert, CMO of Crowe GHP Horwath; Lida Citroen, Principal at LIDA360; and Robin Ashmore, Principal at Amélie Company.

Christopherson is honored to be numbered among so many successful and thriving companies, including Vladimir Jones, one of Christopherson’s valued clients, who was also ranked on the list at No. 3.


Christopherson Business Travel was founded in 1953 and was purchased by Mike and Camille Cameron in 1990. The company, at that time, had two employees and booked $1 million in travel. Today, Christopherson ranks as the 11th largest business travel agency in the United States, operating from five full-service locations as well as 35 client-dedicated on-site locations, maintains a successful leisure travel division (Andavo Travel), and booked more than a half-billion dollars in travel in 2014 for more than 900 organizations across the country including private businesses, Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, government entities, and universities.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

KPIs vs KPMs: What’s the difference?

When communicating to your stakeholders, it is important to know three key items:

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Know your metrics.
  3. Know your message.

In this post, I would like to focus on No. 2–know your metrics–as it’s important to correctly measure and report the value of KPIs and KPMs.

Below is a helpful graphic from BCD Travel to help distinguish the two.

Screen shot 2015-06-02 at 4.32.11 PMUltimately, you should focus on the measurement that will have the most impact on your stakeholders and create the most value.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Business Traveler Behaviors Based on the DISC Assessment

As a business traveler, you probably think you know what kind of traveler you are. But ask yourself: Is your behavior consistent on every business trip? Or does it change depending on the situation? If you’re uncertain, perhaps you should take the behavioral assessment test known as DISC. With DISC, behavior types are divided into four categories: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

To illustrate, let’s relate business traveler behaviors to the behaviors of shoppers. With permission from Dr. Mimi Hull, I will share her DISC assessment of holiday shoppers, as there are many similarities to travelers. I have added travel commentary in italics.

Which shopper (traveler) behavioral category are you?

D Shopper – Dominant, Direct, and Decisive

  • Does it all in one day–typically the day before.
  • Would prefer you to tell them what you want and where to get it.
  • Shops online buying gift cards, typically all from the same place.
  • Hates long lines, the crowds, traffic jams.

For a D Traveler, same day trips are a must. They exclusively use Christopherson Business Travel’s AirPortal®/online booking tool for all travel needs. Airline status is important and he/she will expect his Christopherson Account Manager to get him bumped to a higher status.

I Shopper – Influencing, Interactive, and Including

  • Loves the pageantry of the season.
  • Feels bad if not invited to a party.
  • Buys “Pretty more than Practical.”
  • Impulse buyer who likes to shop with friends and make a day of it.
  • Talks to anyone and everyone.
  • Sees lines as an opportunity to get to know people!

I Travelers love the hustle and bustle of the airport and may wish they could go in the SkyClub lounge to “hang out” with everyone.  They enjoy browsing and shopping at the airport stores to buy gifts for a loved ones. They enjoy getting to know their airplane seat mates. Once at their destination, short meetings turn in to long meetings and then going out for drinks with everyone afterwards.

S Shopper – Supportive, Systematic, and Steady

  • Makes a list in June and starts buying in July.
  • Has a list and a plan before leaving the house.
  • Gifts are thoughtful, practical and often homemade.
  • Out-of-town gifts are wrapped and sent by Thanksgiving.

S Travelers purchase their airline tickets far in advance and have an agenda for the entire trip. They takes treats, pens, and notebooks when visiting clients. They prepare presentations far in advance so not to be caught off guard.

C Shopper – Conscientious, Cautious, and Calculates

  • Creates a budget and spreadsheet on who is getting what gifts.
  • Researches price and buys practical lasting gifts.
  • Would prefer to compare prices online.
  • Hates the crowds and the lines.
  • Does not want to talk in line.

C Travelers will have a copy of their presentation for everyone, including a blank page for notes. They demonstrate (with spreadsheets and graphs!) long term goals and cost saving opportunities. They are a member of TSA Pre-check so as to avoid long security lines. They wear head phones to listen to his/her favorite motivational speaker while waiting in line.

To learn more about the DISC assessment, visit Dr. Hull’s website. Take your own DISC assessment, here.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Christopherson Business Travel is Nine-Time Utah 100 Award Winner

Utah-100Twenty years ago, MountainWest Capital Network introduced the Utah 100 Awards Program, a premier recognition that awards three categories of businesses: 1) Utah’s 100 fastest growing companies, 2) the 15 Emerging Elite (businesses that have between 2–5 years of operation and show significant promise for future growth and success), and 3) the top 15 revenue growth companies (businesses who have had significant revenue gains from year to year).

The 100 fastest growing companies in Utah are selected from thousands of eligible applicants throughout the state and represent a broad cross-section of industries.

Christopherson Business Travel is honored to be recognized as one of Utah’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies, for the ninth time in 20 years. In addition to this prestigious award, Christopherson was also ranked #13 of the 2014 Top 15 Revenue Growth Companies.

We acknowledge our ownership, employees, and loyal customers for making this growth and continued success possible!

To view the full rankings and list of other recipients, click here.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

3 Steps to Effective Client Collaboration

Christopherson Business Travel recently collaborated with our client CHG Healthcare in an effort to identify best practices and create simplified solutions for their travel management program.

col·lab·o·rate \k?-?la-b?-?r?t\ (verb) : to work with another person or group in order to achieve, do, produce, or create something

Collaborating with clients is an important part of my role as an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel. Recently, I was invited to participate in a collaboration meeting with our client CHG Healthcare, in an effort to come up with best practices and simplified solutions for them.

CHG did a fine job organizing the details, the meeting itself was highly beneficial as we were able to create and modify processes that will make their overall “user experience” better, and follow up tasks were assigned. It also gave me an inside view of CHG’s organizational and professional practices, which impressed me greatly.

Having been involved in this meeting, I have identified three important steps to encourage an effective collaboration effort:

1. Identify a clear goal.

Know why you’re meeting together. What is the end purpose? What are you trying to fix or create? Once you’ve identified the goal, don’t allow anything to sidetrack your collaboration.

2. Involve/invite all the key players (and make sure everyone participates).

Every individual (or department) is going to have a different perspective, and each of those perspectives is important. What might seem like a solution for one group, may create problems for another. Make sure that everyone has a chance to share opinions and ideas. If one person is dominating the discussion, shift the focus and specifically invite others to weigh in on how certain ideas will affect them.

3. Assign follow-up tasks.

Make sure someone has been assigned to keep track of assignments. Once the meeting is over, send those assignments out with clear deadlines for completion. The whole meeting will have been for naught if action isn’t taken and followed up on.

I appreciate my relationships with all my clients and am certain that collaboration and sharing ideas is the best way to learn and be engaged.

Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Industry

Six time winner of the Utah Business Fast 50 Award

indexUtah Business Magazine recently presented the 7th annual Fast 50 Awards, recognizing 50 of the fastest growing companies headquartered in Utah. Christopherson Business Travel was thrilled to be a recipient for the sixth year in a row, coming in at #26, having risen 12 places over 2013.

The top 50 companies were selected based on a combination of revenue growth and revenue generation. Utah Business also honored the Emerging Eight, which are growing companies that are less than five years old.

It is a pleasure for Christopherson to be recognized among such an elite group of successful companies, many of which do business with Christopherson.

To see the full list of recipients, click here.

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.


Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Management

Adapting to the Current Shifts in the Business Travel Industry

UntitledIn his book, Winning The Battle For Relevance, Michael McQueen talks about how to stay relevant in a constantly changing world. His principles apply to both businesses and individuals. In one section, he uses a sailing metaphor to describe dealing with change.

Three Rules of Sailing:

  1. You can’t change the wind. As adverse or inconvenient as the wind may be, we must accept that it is out of our control.
  2. You can’t fight the wind. The wind is a greater force than us.
  3. You can’t ignore the wind. If we simply ignore the wind we will be knocked off course or dashed against the rocks.

However, we can utilize the wind to navigate to our desired destination. Simply set your sails based on the current wind and the direction you want to go. In fact, we can even head straight into the wind if that is the direction of our destination. We simply need to tack across the wind until we reach our goal.

The wind is constantly shifting in the world of travel and we need to adjust our sails. Let’s consider some of the shifts we are currently experiencing in the business travel industry:

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Women Business Travelers: Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

I recently returned to work after being on maternity leave with my second child. As I was mentally preparing for this, I had anxiety and stress and wondered, Can I do this? How do women maintain their careers, continue to grow professionally, and still be a mother too?

I began to think that perhaps it was time for me to focus solely on my children for now. Then I started looking for success stories of women who stayed at their jobs after having children. Many of them didn’t have to give up focus on their children to grow their careers. They were able to adjust their schedules and work with their employers to continue their growth.

When I discussed my return plan with my boss, I found that my employer was willing to be flexible too. I knew that I could return, I could grow professionally, and I could still be a mom too. My number one priority could still be family.

The reason I’m sharing this our blog is because many of my co-workers, and many of the clients I work with as an Account Manager, are moms too. In fact, women make up nearly half of all business travelers, and that number is projected to increase in the decades ahead. But despite these significant and growing numbers, woman still often experience professional difficulties as they try to overcome the challenges associated with being a working mother. However truthfully, I think all of us–men included–question our work/life balance and wonder how to be successful both at work and at home.

I think there are two keys to achieving that balance. First, begin by being honest with yourself and your time–really evaluate your goals and plans, as well as the reality of your situation. What is it that you want most? What needs to happen in order for it to occur? That might mean staying home. Or it might mean returning to work. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Only you know what’s right for you.

Second, it is essential to seek employment with a company that supports your goals. And those companies do exist! I feel fortunate because my employer, Christopherson Business Travel, supports workplace flexibility. In fact, Christopherson Business Travel has been awarded the The Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility every year since 2009. They understand my commitment to my family as well as my commitment to my job and the company. I also know that I have the opportunity to advance my career with them, but without detriment to my home life.

I also recommend reading this article on It helped me see exactly how working mothers are redefining success.


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 and Leadership Business Travel

4 Ways To Improve Workplace Communication

Effective communication is essential to every relationship–be it business, work, or home/family–and is essential for continued success. If you’ve worked with other people in any capacity, chances are you have experienced both good and bad communication.

The benefits of good communication are endless, including the ability to get more done in less time as well as cultivating a culture of respect. On the other hand, a lack of communication (or poor communication) leads to stress, frustration, misunderstandings, disrespect, and it impacts the company’s bottom line.

Here are four ways we can improve communication in the workplace:

Tone of voice.

You’ve heard, “It’s not what you say but how you say it.” Your tone of voice communicates either respect or disrespect. It communicates confidence or fear. Sometimes we don’t even realize the way we speak to others. It’s vital to pay attention to how you speak and how you respond to others.

Nonverbal communication.

Much of our communication is nonverbal. Crossed arms, not smiling, or not looking a the person speaking to you says that you aren’t interested in what they have to say. Whereas if you are pleasant, sitting forward, and involved, you are promoting good communication. The other person is more receptive, and it pulls you into the conversation.


Don’t assume you understand exactly what someone means. The phrase, “So what I hear you saying is…” will help you make sure you understand what the other person is saying. It causes you to listen carefully. If you don’t understand something, simply say, “Can you clarify that for me?” or “What do you mean by that?”

Follow up.

Follow up is key and can be as simple as sending a short email after a conversation. It includes offering updates on your progress with assignments and/or projects.  When you follow up with your boss, managers, and co-workers, it keeps everyone in the loop and informed. When the lines of communication are open within a team, productivity soars and it becomes a harmoneous work environment.

Business and Leadership Business Travel

Making Personnel Adjustments: 3 Questions to Determine if it’s a “Right Fit”

I had the opportunity to attend the GBTA Masters Conference earlier this year, along with our CEO, Mike Cameron. While there, we were able to meet and talk with Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great. In fact, Mike shared his notes from Jim’s keynote address with our blog readers in this post.

One of the concepts Jim teaches in Good to Great is that as leaders, we need to get the right people “on our bus,” and make sure they’re in the right seat. I have always found this metaphor useful when making critical personnel decisions. I also believe that we, as company leaders, need to take responsibility for the development and growth of our managers by providing training and coaching opportunities.

But the question on my mind during Jim’s speech was: How do we know when we should continue to invest our time and energy to help an individual be successful in our organization, and when do we decide that they are in the wrong seat, or worse, that they should not even be on the bus? Clearly the decisions derived from that question can be pivotal for both the company and the individual impacted by the decision.

I posed this question to Jim and he offered an insightful response. He said it helped him to reflect on three questions when faced with a tough personnel decision:

1. Are the individual’s values aligned with the organization’s?

If there is a mis-match in values then there is no hope that the relationship will work. No amount of training or coaching will solve this problem. The best decision is to end the relationship.

2. Does the individual have the will to succeed in the organization?

If lack of will is the issue, but the individual has both the values and the skills for the position, then the best course of action is to provide coaching to help motivate the individual. Some patience is appropriate in this situation, however you can’t continuously “blow air into their balloon.” At some point, they must develop their own willpower for long-term success.

3. Does the individual have the skills necessary to succeed in their role?

Individuals can have both the values and the will to succeed, but lack in key skills needed in their position. In these situations, we can afford to be more patient because skills can be taught, particularly if they are willing and able to learn and have the desire to succeed.

I hope you’ve found this framework as useful I have in making important personnel decisions that will help your organization achieve the success you deserve. I also encourage you to read Good to Great to discover additional leadership insights. And remember: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).