Senior travel buyers headed to London’s Grange City Hotel for the BBT Forum on October 3, to debate the evolving role of technology in corporate travel programmes.
Discussions included whether take-up of technology was age-related or down to willingness to use it – answer; willingness. The forum heard that the business travel sector is “retarded” in its adoption of technology compared to other industries – and while travellers’ tools on their own devices outperform those supplied by their travel managers, they will continue to search and book outside policy, derailing compliance and duty of care. However, delegates said leakage is often due to wrong travel policy rather than adverse attitude.
One session looked at expense management tools and the complex challenges around achieving fully end-to-end solutions. Delegates agreed the cost of replacing a legacy system was the biggest obstacle to companies adopting an end-to-end system, with ROI (return on investment) not seen for several years after starting to implement a solution. Integrating data from disparate systems – including self-booking tools, corporate cards and ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools – is key to an effective expense management programme.
Another debate looked at how to write a good RFP and get a constructive response. RFPs tend to force suppliers into a box, which does not allow them to communicate their attributes. An RFP should not be completed in isolation, suppliers need to understand clients’ business and travel imperatives. Suppliers often complete endless pages about environmental and sustainability, and meetings and events credentials – only for them to be ignored by travel buyers. It was incumbent on the issuer to define what they need in clear, concise questions – and on the supplier to read the questions.
The expert panellists included travel buyers, consultants, intermediaries and suppliers. BBT Forums are supported by ACTE and sponsored by Airplus International, BCD Travel, HRS, Get There, the Lufthansa Group and Grange Hotels.
BBT Forums are regular events for travel buyers to discuss and debate topical issues, engage in candid, open dialogue and network with peers. Click here for more information.