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Business Travel Technology – Cryptocurrency, Chatbots, and Apps, Oh My!

We’re living during a time when technological innovation is easing practically every area of our lives. You can pre-order your Starbucks latte before even leaving the house. You can buy and ship groceries to your house, just by talking to your smart home device.  And it’s easy to see how business travel is being simplified too. Ride sharing apps are now acceptable forms of transportation for most businesses. Checking in to flights has never been easier. And managing expenses is a breeze. Even with these changes that seem so simple now, it’s eye-opening to think of what is likely on the horizon of business travel technology.

I recently attended a presentation by Johnny Thorsen from Mezi, an artificial intelligence-powered tech startup. As the Vice President of Travel Strategy & Partnerships, his perspective on the future of the business travel industry was surprising, exciting, and even a little mind-boggling.

Innovative travel apps currently available to business travelers

Many wonderful advancements are currently on the scene and in action for business travelers.  

  • Dufl– This luggage delivery app has been around for a few years now. This service provides busy travelers with a solution for luggage and clothing. Acting like a virtual closet that cleans, stores, and sends your garments to the traveler when they need it. Easily have the luggage sent to your hotel, and ship it back to Dufl when you leave. 
  • Seateroo– This app allows passengers to sell premium airline seats to another passenger once boarding has completed. Anyone looking to make a little extra cash can post their seat of the app for a desired price and see if anyone is willing to switch spots. 
  • Roomer– A solution for hotel guests who wish to cancel non-refundable hotel reservations. This app allows users to sell their reservation, rather than eat the cost of the room. Others looking for a room could use Roomer to find a good deal at typically discounted prices on hotel bookings.  
  • Turo– A peer to peer car sharing app and website which allows people to rent out their personal vehicle to others needing a car for a day or even weeks at a time. 

 

Innovative business travel technology on the rise:

I was surprised to find that many ideas that seem so futuristic are much closer to reality. Some, are even in action now without most of us realizing it.

  • Chatbots for travel- If you’ve used a chat feature on a website, you’ve likely communicated with a chatbot at some point. This artificial intelligence technology is a computer program that conducts messaging and conversation like a real human. Often an experienced agent stands by to intervene when the chatbot can no longer answer the questions. It is actually currently available, with about 60% automation. Chatbots and their capabilities are expected to increase and be used more seamlessly in the future.
  • Cryptocurrency will become more prominent- Without getting in too deep into defining cryptocurrencies and blockchain, this is a digital currency that is growing in popularity and acceptance. So much so that it is currently being used for business transactions in 29 countries. It is not controlled by banks, making transactions instant, with the flexibility to be used for public or private matters.
  • Smart Contract could replace hotel RFPs- Using the same block chain technology used in cryptocurrency, hotels may be able to benefit from its advanced security features. The idea is simple, Smart Contracts take out the middleman, the GDS, and replace it with transactions using cryptocurrency.  Implications could be interesting for Group, Meeting and Event contracts, as well as annual business travel contracts.
  • Self- driving cars- aside from changing traditional car rental, self- driving cars can potentially take the place of small meeting rooms. Why travel to one location, when you can meet, communicate and negotiate while already on the way to your errand? It could also serve as a more convenient mode of transportation for regional travel. It could be possible to travel by self-driving car, work and sleep in-route,  and wake up in your destination city. The need for a short flight and overnight in a hotel may be unnecessary.
  • TSA screening – TSA will change and become more profile-based; making the presence of the TSA screening that we know today almost invisible. Signs of this are already here, like advanced technology being tested in TSA Pre-Check lines in select airports. 

Only time will tell if these advancements will come to fruition. We will be watching the horizon closely for new and innovative ways business travel technology is evolving. Check back on our blog for industry updates or to learn how our preparatory technology, AirPortal, is advancing business travel management.

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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.