Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Observations from the NBTA convention

Last week's NBTA's annual convention was billed as the biggest and most successful travel management conference ever. A common question I was asked while roaming the tradeshow floor, "What do you believe was the hot topic at this year's conference?". My response was simplly stated "nothing really new here". In reality I believe more was left unsaid then presented in any particular seminar or general session. For example, Sam Gilliland, CEO of Sabre, presented a panel of ex-airline execs who chatted with Peter Greenberg. I really wanted to know what the private equity buyout of Sabre means to the industry not to mention the Travelport acquition by Blackstone and the recent IPO by Orbitz. Instead the two airline executives talked about the need for high speed rail for the NorthEast corridor (DOH!). A familiar theme in Sam's introduction speech was "you the corporate travel manager, really controls the industry", but is this really true?

Perhaps the problem with this conference is that the position of corporate travel manager is a moving target. This week, I have been updating my NBTA database from 2004 and I immediately noticed about a 70% turnover in names just for the letters A and B! Could it be that the coveted target of the suppliers at the conference is a moving one? Is the position of travel manager a long term career? My apologies to my friends and colleagues who have been in their role for many years, but the reality of the market is that at an average company a new travel manager emerges after about 4-5 years. Why is this? Corporate travel management is not a core competency of any organization (except TMCs that is). There is little room to advance in the position other than adding more commodities to the role if the the CTM is in procurement (as many are moving towards) or moving to other positions in the company. So if I were to conservatively estimate that 50% of all travel managers turnover in a 5 year period, marketing to these individuals becomes a constant re-education effort. No wonder the conference lacks innovation, there are so many newcomers to the position every year, it is nearly impossible to move to start a more forward thinking dialogue.

Friday, July 20, 2007

CorporateTravel Technology Today and Tomorrow

I am pleased to announce that my most recent corporate travel study: Corporate Travel Technology: Today and Tomorrow is now available for a pre-published order with a discount of $100 (purchase price is normally $600, pre-publication price of $499). In addition if you are attending the NBTA show next week you can receive an additional $100 discount if you order the study by August 31, 2007. The study will be released in mid- late August 2007. This research is the result of intensive review of products and services offered in the corporate travel space. You can check out the table of contents here and purchase the study through the TTCI or PhoCusWright stores.

Here is a link to the flyer we are distributing at next week's NBTA conference.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Back....

My apologies to my loyal blog readers. I was on vacation in Israel for most of June and I have been on the run finishing up various projects since I returned. A couple words of advice concerning travel to Israel. My family and I felt extremely safe during our stay. Don't let the US media make you believe otherwise. As the birth place of three of the world's major religions, visiting Israel is like no other experience. That being said we did have a slight mishap while enjoying the Dead Sea. My cousin's rent-a-car was broken into and about 1/2 our luggage (all the luggage we had with us) was stolen. This included our passports. Though Israel is very safe, personal property is not, especially in remote areas where Bedouin's live. I am sorry to report, per the Israeli police, that the Bedouin's main source of income is theft. So if you do travel to Israel and see a Bedouin wearing a Steely Dan t-shirt, wearing my wife's skirt listing to my son's IPOD, let me know! In reality personal possessions can be replaced. BTW if you ever do lose your passport in Israel I would recommend the consulate in Jerusalem rather than the Embassy in Tel Aviv. They were extremely helpful in getting us temporary passports.

I realize a lot has been happening over the last month in both travel and technology. I hope to make up for lost time this week with a number of entries.