November 28, 2019

TripActions 5 Takeaways From GBTA Europe

Cliona Moulton
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The TripActions team revels in the opportunity to connect with business travel community in Europe and last week was a highlight. We attended GBTA & VDR conference in Munich where we shared insights and discussed ideas with more than 1,000 travel professionals.

Throughout the three days of content, a few topics emerged as a focus for suppliers and buyers moving into 2020: Sustainability. NDC. Trade and regulatory uncertainty. Traveller wellbeing. Predictive analytics.

TripActions Director of Transport & Supply Anna Jeanblanc led a conversation around our recent NDC partnership with Lufthansa and the growing importance of Carbon Impact Data. If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch her full talk on video.

Whilst there were a diversity of opinions and insights shared, it was clear that the European business travel community is united in its passion to solving the challenges.

Here we share the TripActions team’s five main takeaways from the event:

Sustainability is the Intersection of People, Planet and Profit

Throughout the event, there were multiple sessions and announcements around offsetting carbon emissions, flight shaming, fuel costs and each stakeholder’s role in driving change within the industry.

Randy J Tinseth, VP of Commercial Marketing at The Boeing Company, highlighted the efficiency gap within air traffic controls explaining that there’s no unified system to currently streamline these operations. Tinseth said that if this was solved by improving flight path efficiency, we could see a decrease in carbon emissions by 10-15% and reduced delays.

The industry is also seeing airlines grow their investment in new aircrafts to reduce their carbon footprint. Easyjet announced their intentions to become the first airline worldwide to operate net-zero carbon flights through offsetting their plane emissions. The budget airline plans to invest around £25m over the next financial year in "forestry, renewable and community based projects". EasyJet also promised to support the development of hybrid and electric planes to help "reinvent and de-carbonise aviation over the long-term".

According to Booking.com, 49% of travellers are choosing slower transportation (train vs air) due to sustainability consciousness. Travellers crave transparency when it comes to their carbon footprint so they can make more informed decisions during the booking experience. This approach really creates accountability for travellers.

Here at TripActions, we aim to empower our customers with Carbon Impact Data. Through leveraging TripActions’ mileage data and reports, businesses and their travellers can opt in to better understand their company’s carbon footprint both as a whole and as individuals. This level of transparency will provide travel managers, finance, HR and operations leaders the opportunity to address growing traveller concerns over their carbon footprint.

The Rise of NDC

The momentum behind NDC continues to grow as airlines proceed to differentiate content from the GDS. There were lots of conversations at GBTA around who drives this forward and how they can collaborate to make it a win-win-win for everyone -- including the traveller.

NDC allows airlines to directly list their flights, ancillaries, and information on travel platforms. Some benefits of NDC include richer offers, more customer touchpoints, new types of sellers and improved tracking. Concerns sit on the consumer side where ensuring that travellers are front of mind as companies start building out these solutions. IATA has established a Travel Manager Advisory Group to understand what this means for the industry and the benefits associated to push the traveller agenda.

There was a positive outlook on how the NDC model will reduce fragmentation of airline content. As a result, this will drive further development in the NDC space for TMCs in Europe and provide both the business and travellers with a better experience, more choice and better prices.

Trade and Regulatory Uncertainty

It’s no secret that there is a lot of uncertainty worldwide right now with complex issues facing us around Brexit, US policies, and the EU Posted Worker Regulations. Immigration law experts from Fragoman discussed current trends, best practices, predictions for 2020, and the impact on business travellers.

In general, experts have seen a decrease in business travel from 1.8% to 1.7%, over the last year, particularly with an increase of security and travel bans on people entering the U.S. Additionally, 56% of global outbound travel is due to global trade. If cargo trade decreases, flight prices for passengers will increase. Most business travellers don’t realise cargo also flies on passenger flights.

New regulations, such as PSD2, requires companies in the European Economic Area to comply with new payment requirements called SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) -- aimed to provide more innovative payment services and protect consumers from online payment fraud. Eighty-eight percent of travellers want to stay at a property where the company offers a payment solution. A surge in virtual payments has followed and across the event it was clear that payment solutions will be key to driving adoption of corporate travel programs.

Predictive Analytics

Data is always a hot topic, but how are companies actually using data to predict travel spend and save their business money?

There was a session which focused on leveraging the forecasting of yearly spend with macro and micro-trends. It recommended that leaders then hone in on the trip specific prediction, which looked at traveller behaviour and measuring ROI.

As a travel manager, data is powerful and important -- especially when reviewing which suppliers you want to partner with and looking at how you can drive costs down. With this predictive model, speakers suggested partnering with fewer suppliers to enable businesses to optimise their spend and negotiate better targets and rates.

Specific predictive models can be built to examine a travel programme’s key performance and specific areas of improvement. For example, at TripActions, we use machine learning to optimise our processes and also enable businesses to forecast their annual spend and savings for the year.

Empowering Travellers with Support Every Step of the Way

We are seeing more and more businesses focusing on their employees’ wellbeing and building traveller-centric policies. Their aim is to help employees appreciate the role they play in the growth of the business whilst offering the freedom and flexibility to grow their own careers and retain a healthy work-life balance.

Martin Wilczynski, Head of Global Management at Bayer, and Marina Hegemann, Managing Director at TouristMobile, discussed providing all travellers with a VIP experience including proactive support and dynamic customised messages via mobile applications, email, and SMS. With sustainability in mind, they also spoke about how messaging could even extend to notify travellers of colleagues on the same flight or flag when a user can make a better choice of transportation showcasing carbon emissions data.