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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.”

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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.