April 18, 2019

What we Learned at ACTE Global Summit Chicago Part II

The TripActions team recently attended the latest ACTE Global Summit to learn more about what’s current and trending in the world of corporate travel. We saw a passionate crowd of travel industry professionals — both buyers and suppliers — all eager to share, learn, and network.

Earlier this week, we talked about some of the most interesting, exciting, and surprising insights and ideas we brought home from the conference. Below, we highlight a few more:

You have to invest in the traveler experience to drive adoption.

To be able to collect high-quality data and make the connections that help make your travel program a success, your travelers need to actively use your solution. But in the age of consumer experiences provided by brands such as Amazon and Netflix, where personalization and relevance are the norm, your travelers need certain expectations met or they'll seek inventory and support elsewhere.

During the aforementioned panel on how to drive adoption,VP of Americas Field Marketing and Demand Generation at Genesys Bruno Bertini was asked what travel can learn from other industries focused on customer experience and loyalty. He told the audience that very successful companies will develop a strategy around engagement, working to figure out intent and creating a full circle that connects the right experience through the right channel to the right traveler at the right time. Microsoft’s Meredith Smith talked about the ‘voice of traveler’ program at Microsoft, stating that the organization wants to hear and learn from travelers in order to grow and optimize their program, and incentivize travelers to book in the provided tool.

If you listen to your travelers and meet their needs by delivering more flexible and personalized programs through data and AI, you can make travelers’ lives easier, ensure compliance, and help drive the bottom line.

On the main stage on Tuesday, a panel called Redefining Care for the Modern Business Traveler also touched on the need to put the individual traveler experience at the center. The dual requirement for the travel manager is to find the right balance between fiscal control and procurement strategies and HR and people strategies in order to care for both the business and the employees who help drive its success.

Digital transformation brings better data, connections, and experience to the table.

In the end, it all comes back to digital transformation within the organization.

But where does a travel program manager begin? Tuesday’s main stage panel on digital transformation encouraged the audience to be focused on outcomes and ask what exactly you’re going to get from your technology investments. You want to make the end-to-end travel experience as easy as possible for the customer in order to drive adoption, collect data, and continuously improve. Decide your KPIs out of the gate, test and learn at every step of the way, and fail fast in order to grow fast. Bring in those key stakeholders from beyond the travel team, including finance and HR, and do what you can to identify and understand the gaps in the traveler experience so you can make improvements where they’re needed.

Another hot topic at ACTE was around how to grow in your career to become a leader in the travel management space, and it was again mentioned that it all ties back to data, connections, and digital transformation to improve the experience for the traveler and the bottom line for the business. During a panel on how to map out your career path as a travel program manager, it was said that as the role continues to evolve across organizations, it may end up sitting under HR (it costs a lot of money for turnover, after all) or finance. But wherever corporate travel strategy sits, if you make sure data is at the center of your program, you can communicate your value to the company by accurately collecting and reporting on metrics around savings and traveler satisfaction. At the end of the day, what a travel manager puts into a company really means something to the bottom line, and it’s easy to see that impact if you can help ensure the traveler’s experience is a good one.

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TripActions’ own Head of Product Anique Drumright also presented at the conference, echoing the sentiments of others on stage throughout the event who talked about the urgency of investing in innovation within the travel space. By gaining full alignment with suppliers and connecting your travelers with a vast selection of high-quality inventory, you’ll see higher satisfaction and adoption rates, which in turn gives you complete visibility and control over the end-to-end experience.

Learn more about how to successfully drive digital transformation for your travel program by connecting with one of our travel experience experts.