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In 2019 we shared a similar blog post encouraging corporate travel business owners to consider the impact industry change was going to have on their programs.  What a difference a year makes! While our focus continues to be on GDPR and NDC, the end of Q12020 forces us to take the hardest look at risk management since 9/11.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has us scrambling to ensure the safety of our travelers and for many assessing the relationships with risk management software and our reliance on TMC data for people tracking.

As we wind down Q1 with the biggest adverse impact to corporate travel on record, finding time to review your corporate travel program may be difficult, but without serious consideration as to our business habits and processes will no doubt cause more angst well after the pandemic has subsided.  Indeed, sea change has come to the corporate travel industry, and we can either change with the times or face being lost with legacy programs, lost savings, and missed opportunity. As I mentioned in 2019, the burden ultimately rests on you, not your suppliers, to craft the strategy and implement it throughout the organization.

Let’s be clear. Our airline, car rental, hotel, travel management company suppliers, and risk providers are our friends. The relationships are symbiotic. That said, when you consider supplier strategy in light of industry changes, corporate goals do not always align. We’ve been down the GDS disintermediation road many times before, but this time corporate travel buyers have more buying options (including supplier direct sites) and powerful data aggregation tools at their fingertips.

While some TMCs may argue that NDC is not fair to the corporate buyer, we believe fairness rests in the eye of the beholder. The spoils go to those who think and plan strategically about their corporate culture, goals and program disposition.  And with the changing demographic in organizations, it is hard to envision how policy driven compliance yields our corporate travel programs any less leakage than in the past. In today’s environment, travel leakage means lost opportunity and a failed duty of care program.

Top 4 Items to Review in Your Corporate Travel Program

Duty of Care

While the risk management software options we have are powerful and robust, the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” holds true.  The integrity of the traveler tracking data companies receive is only as good as the integrity and timeliness of the data going into the tools.  And in the case where a traveler does not book through an approved agency of record, there most likely is no data at all – no ability to track or help your traveler in the event of an emergency.    The big question becomes whether the organization can rely on policy driven TMC compliance. If it can, all the better. The focus needs to be on making sure the data hand off from the TMC to the risk took is good.  If you’re like most organizations and you’re chasing non-compliant travelers then the issues we currently face with coronavirus and people tracking will surface again and again. Here, there is no reason in today’s environment with so many technology options in the marketplace that companies can accept an inability to track travelers and provide the duty of care it owes.  Tools like CapTrav were built with compliance and risk issues in mind.

Program Leakage and NDC

Policy driven compliance has become even more difficult as the demographic of corporations shift to a younger generation and as companies compete for talent.  The simple reality is that it’s getting more difficult for most organizations to drive corporate travel compliance when corporate millennials are proving to be savvy shoppers and grew up with intuitive technology that makes life easier.  What’s more, NDC has made it a reality that savvy shopping can pay off. The result is that corporate travel programs need to look at both their businesses and the changing landscape of corporate travel. Today’s best in class companies are striking supplier deals for direct bookings and are benchmarking travel purchases across multiple distribution channels.  Ultimately, if you can track your travelers and empirically prove that the company is spending its travel dollars wisely, it shouldn’t matter how or where your travelers book.

GDPR Updates

As many in the United States consider alternative booking sources and modes of lodging and transportation, data security in Europe tightens. If your organization has a European footprint, GDPR is playing a major role in how EU citizens procure travel. In our experience, companies approach the issue in a number of ways. Some take extreme caution, others work through local workers’ councils to gain required approvals while conducting business as usual.

Why Work with KesselRun Corporate Travel Consultants

Given the wide range of clients KesselRun has worked with in our years of corporate travel industry experience, it has worked with, advised on, and written numerous corporate travel policies. If your company is at a loss for what comprises a best-in-class travel policy, or what new policy questions and challenges arise during day-to-day travel and how other companies are handling them, KesselRun can fill you in.