Travel Buyer Q&A: Michael McSperrin, Alexander Mann Solutions

BBT caught up with Michael McSperrin, global head of facilities and support services at Alexander Mann Solutions, who has been shortlisted for the Travel Buyer of the Year category at the Business Travel Awards 2019 and also sits on the advisory board for the Business Travel Show, to find out his predictions for the future of travel management

What’s keeping you awake at night? 
Making sure that our travellers are safe and informed. With so many natural disasters and other events taking place around the world, I always have one eye on the news and my alerts to make sure that we don’t have people at risk, and if we do then get on to supporting them to make sure they are safe. Relying on emails for sending all details and communications to people is just not as effective as it was ten or 20 years ago. There are simply too many of them, so we also need to work on new ways of getting information out to travellers.

What innovation will make the biggest impact on travel management in the next 12 months? 
I think consolidation in the market is going to make a difference, as you will see more money from TMCs directed to their technology solutions; whether that be chat bots or other forms of Artificial Intelligence and bots that can help make the process of buying and managing travel smoother and easier not only for businesses, but also for the end users.

How will business travel look in 2022? 
It will get more and more personal to the traveller in my view – catered to users based on their previous trips and their preferences that will be learned over time. Analytics in this space will make data really important to ensure that travellers get the best possible experience.

How will managing business travel look in 2022? 
I expect a lot more automation in terms of the data and information that travel managers/buyers need and use to make decisions. Rather than having to manually work things out, data and analytics are going to be more easily accessible through automatic platforms, either direct from the TMC or via a third party. This is going to help make life easier for travel managers as they battle to balance getting the best value for money for their business whilst also getting the best experience for their colleagues who travel for work.

How will the business traveller look in 2022? 
The business traveller is going to be even more tech savvy than they are today. They are going to be more in tune with technology and the various apps that come with it. The millennials who expect a more tailored and flexible travel programme will start to influence the approach that many companies take and will want to have things adjusted for them accordingly.

How will we, as an industry, best survive the next three years? 
Agility is going to be key. There will continue to be technology innovations that will disrupt how we have traditionally done things, and having an open mind to these will be important. It will also be key that we manage the change and expectations with our colleagues and other stakeholders so that everyone gets the best out of what will no doubt be some fascinating new approaches and ideas over the coming years.

Why do you attend the Business Travel Show? 
Having been for a few years now, I attend the BTS to get a better understanding directly from peers and suppliers about what is happening in the industry and see if there are things that I can take away and implement in our own programme. It’s great to meet current and potential future suppliers face to face – especially as I’m based in Poland, so we don’t really meet that much in person. It is also really enjoyable to meet the experts and peers who share their knowledge and experience on the key hot topics that are influencing the industry each year.

What are you hoping to see on the conference programme this year? 
I’m looking forward to seeing sessions on the technology side of things and how we as travel buyers/managers can adopt simple technology solutions to help make a big difference. I’m also interested to see how things like predictive analytics and adopting flexible approaches to our travel programmes can help with employee engagement and not necessarily hit the company purse strings too hard.

The 25th annual Business Travel Show will take place at Olympia London from 20-21 February 2019. Free visitor registration is now open at businesstravelshow.com/register. Qualified travel buyers can also apply for a hosted buyer place at businesstravelshow.com/hosted-buyer, which includes benefits such as complimentary travel and accommodation, as well as access to a personal online diary system for appointments.

There are also still a few tables and seats available for the 2019 Business Travel Awards. To book your place, click here

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