Travel Technology, Ahead of Travelers' Changing Expectations (featuring Kathy Karlesses from Deem)

June 20, 2022 00:22:40
Travel Technology, Ahead of Travelers' Changing Expectations (featuring Kathy Karlesses from Deem)
Your Window Seat
Travel Technology, Ahead of Travelers' Changing Expectations (featuring Kathy Karlesses from Deem)
/

Show Notes

Business travel is back! Great… but the way we travel, the way we think and what we expect is changing. Technology must lead the way to stay ahead of travelers’ expectations. Joining this episode is Kathy Karlesses, VP Channel and Large Market Sales at Deem to discuss the challenges and opportunities head on!
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:11 Hi, and welcome to this episode of your window seat, where we at travel incorporated discuss the topics that you care about most in this ever changing business travel industry. I'm Tracy Carillo, your host for today's topic, travel technology ahead of Traveler's changing expectations. Business travel is back and it's time to be looking forward. Let's face it. The times are changing our attitudes where, and how we work is changing. And technology is definitely changing today. We're going to explore the mind of the business traveler and how their expectations are so very different than how they may have approached travel in the past, as well as the travel and procurement managers responsible for changes in policy to address this head on. I am joined today by Kathy Carlos' vice president channel and large market sales at deem. Welcome Kathy. Speaker 2 00:01:03 Tracy. Thank you so much. It's so great to be here. Thank you for having me. And just a word I wanted to say we at die are so excited for the partnership with travel, Inc. It's been such a long time coming, lots of old friends and new friends in the industry and at the agency. We're really excited. So thank you for having me Speaker 1 00:01:23 Fantastic. And we are thrilled. So let's start with travel and procurement managers. One thing that we all appreciate is they now have a seat at the table to proactively voice how their department impacts the culture and company objectives with all the new responsibilities. What would you say were the biggest hurdles or challenges they need support with or need to simply overcome internally? Speaker 2 00:01:47 That's a great question. I agree with you, you know, the impact to travel managers, the changes have been the biggest that I've seen in recent history and that's the P word the pandemic has certainly given these people some challenges. But what I think we're seeing is you mentioned a seat at the table, but it's also encompassing, you know, more than just travelers. So as policies change within the organization to address mobile workforces, they're asked to be kind of point people on those changing priorities and changing policies. They're really being asked, I think, from the organization as a whole to address policy, not only for their travelers, but in the time where no one was traveling, they were asked to address policies of mobility in general, you know, the workforce in general. So I think it's maybe an opportunity for them to demonstrate their value across the organization. Speaker 1 00:02:41 Mm that's interesting, because it really does lead into a new way of approaching duty of care for those companies, even that may not have had a formal process in the past, right? So not only are they thinking about the importance of their international travelers and all of the changes that are happening in real time, but also those travelers domestically because of that mobile workforce, what would you say about that from a duty of care perspective? Speaker 2 00:03:06 Yeah. Duty of care, right? That's been a buzzword for a long time. In theory, it's been around, but the global pandemic really brought this kind of roaring to the forefront. And so to your point, they're preparing for travelers to get on the road again, once travel has lifted from the pandemic, but they're also needing to address people moving within their workplaces. So where are they going? Are they working remotely? How do we protect them? How do we follow them? How do we prepare them for not only travel coming back, but how do we prepare them to move between remote work locations? They need to understand both from a technology perspective, what they need to bring to the company to not only support mobile workforces, but to support travel when it comes back. Speaker 1 00:03:56 And none of that can really happen without compliance. You know, so if we thinking a little bit about the Traveler's perspective and, and maybe companies in the past had more guidelines instead of formal mandated program, and I'm not sure that, you know, one is right and one is wrong here, but how are we getting travelers to be more compliant? So that, that duty of care program, no matter where it is domestically or internationally can really take hold and be impactful to the program. Speaker 2 00:04:23 Yeah. That's a great question as well. I think that they're bringing all kinds of teams to the table, right? So it's, it's risk management, it's people and places or HR, and they're all asking those same questions. How can we protect people? How can we keep people in the program? What do we need to do in order to, you know, achieve those goals? And I think we talk a lot, we say organic compliance. We, we, we talk about that term a lot when we're talking to companies who ask us that very question. So how do we keep our employees engaged? How do we get them to Compli and stay in the program and book our preferred hotels and car rental rates and book with our preferred agency who gives us that such great service and can help track us, how do we get them to comply with the technology? Speaker 2 00:05:10 All of those answers are fairly simple. It has to be easy to use. They have to wanna use it. So it's in this day and age of non mandate, mandate's a bad word, right? I think maybe some mandates happen around airline contracts and airfare, but sometimes they slip out when it comes to, or they loosen up when it comes to other products. It has to be an all in one place, right? With technology to help when technology is needed and the offline services to be, you know, be at the forefront when that is either the only method or the preferred method for interacting with the travel program. So it has to be a pretty tightly managed program, but it has to be more of a carrot than a stick providing an experience that travelers want to use. That's the key that's key to compliance. Speaker 1 00:05:59 So I would guess mobile plays a really big role when we're talking about this new organic compliance. I love that term by the way. Yeah. I don't, I've heard that put together from a policy perspective, when you think about organic, it always seems forced, and this seems much more just accepted and understood. Right. So how does mobile play into that in this mobile workforce? Speaker 2 00:06:21 Mobile is really another way to mirror a consumer-like experience because if you think of your life, aside from traveling business travel, or, or even leisure travel or vacation travel, you do so many things on your mobile device. There's so many things that are mobile in your world, so you could do it anywhere. So really that's one of the features is, you know, mirroring consumer like experiences that proves to be successful. And even taking that a step further and adding features and benefits that are unexpected, that make that experience even richer and fuller. Speaker 1 00:06:59 So a shift to a more comprehensive mobile experience, and it's not just having a tool it's, what's actually embedded in that mobile experience, Speaker 2 00:07:07 Right, right. A hundred percent. So everything you would expect to be able to do on your desktop, you wanna be able to take that with you and do that wherever you are and you wanna be informed. And so it's more like a traveling companion rather than a mobile app. And so, you know, some of your mobile apps are very important to you, your mobile banking, or, you know what, so that's just one more app. That's going to be your traveler companion and inform you along the way. Speaker 1 00:07:36 So it's all about being easy, Speaker 2 00:07:38 Being easy ed, right. Easier to travel anywhere. <laugh> I said, we need an easy button for everything, right? Speaker 1 00:07:46 We do. But you talked a lot about features that are embedded in tools today. You know, we're talking about technology, we're talking about traveler expectations. We're also talking about company expectations. And so another aspect of change is around that other big word, sustainability, right? Although there are some travel programs who have been monitoring sustainability, you know, for years, it is on every company's radar these days. And having technology with embedded carbon emissions data that helps identify what carrier hotel property, et cetera, are more sustainable, really helps guide the travelers to make a more informed buying decision at the time of search. So this is something that we have been, you know, looking for for, you know, a couple years now and anyone who really knows me knows I'm really passionate about sustainability. Um, you know, and what I'm really excited about is that travelers are actually pushing sustainability to be more important and to take their own actions. So actually pushing the company to make choices that are going to help them make sustainable buying decisions. What are you seeing around that? Speaker 2 00:08:59 Yeah, exactly the same thing. Um, pressure from the end users to incorporate sustainability and carbon offset into all areas of the workplace, but especially travel because, you know, let's face it, some of the most carbon impact we have is jet fuel and other things as we travel. So yes, a hundred percent. That's true, but Tracy you're right in that, embedding it in the booking path is the most helpful way to have travelers make informed decisions. Right. So because can you imagine at the end of it, you've booked a, a trip and then two weeks later your travel manager comes and says, oh, you know, that was a pretty hefty carbon heavy, uh, trip. And you're like, well, I can't do anything about it now. So, so you really want to be informed because to your point, exact point travelers make better decisions at if they're informed along the way. Speaker 2 00:09:57 And you can see that comparison, um, you know, edits just rolled out, geez, this is so timely because we just launched on the 25th of May that our eco check product, which will take you through that exact path. And it will show you as you make your decisions around airline travel hotel, uh, reservations and car or other mobility methods, it will show you that it will show you in your carbon emission and you'll be able to make decisions around that. So, but you are absolutely a hundred percent spot on that travelers and people, employees are demanding that from their companies. Speaker 1 00:10:34 Well, I think they're also looking for other ways in addition to that, right. I mean, so having that sustainability, I mean, that's probably the first in the industry, right? So thank you D thank you, EDTA. Um, but ed also provides much more by way of safety. You know, when we think of women that are traveling alone and, um, or not just, you know, women, but anyone that needs to be really comfortable about that trip and they wanna make sure that they're picking properties in the right places and other components, the embedded information that is actually leading the way where it's gonna change, what travelers expect going forward, because now they're gonna have it, you know, is, is really mind blowing. So talk to us about some of these other features that maybe we wouldn't have thought we needed in the past that you have now. Speaker 2 00:11:24 Yeah. That's a great question. And, and I think you can see a theme emerging here. It's all about the traveler, right? And so it goes back even further to our organic compliance, right? So if we have things that travelers want and need, and maybe didn't even think they needed, but now they rely, they rely heavily on safety check was really born during the pandemic. And it was interesting because I'm sure, you know, technology companies have roadmaps, right development, roadmaps, and there's, there's pretty far set into the future. So we usually know for the year kind of what's out there, what, we're, what we have on the roadmap. And when the pandemic hit, we knew we had to pivot. Um, and we decided that safety check was an important part of at his future. And, and what we mean by safety check is just what you said, neighborhood safety, um, airline, airplane, safety, cleanliness protocols for all of the products, air, car, and hotel. Speaker 2 00:12:24 So you are informed as you are traveling, uh, where am I going? Is it safe? You know, what's that experience going to be like when I check into the hotel, all of that information is with you, as you decide on where you're going, when you're going and how you're gonna go. Um, and so the travel manager can feel very confident that their travelers are informed and that they're able to make these decisions and feel comfortable, uh, as they travel the world. Um, some of the safety scores around neighborhoods you've mentioned, it it's, it's, women's safety, it's, it's nighttime safety, it's L LGBTQ, uh, safety. So there's all kinds of safety scores and safety ratings that guide you, you know, to, in, to your destination. So, um, we're very proud of that. We launched it from concept to execution. It was about 90 days. So it was pretty fast and we knew we needed to be ready when travel, you know, and make people feel comfortable to come back to travel. So there's been a couple stops and starts, but safety check's been there all the way. And it's been really well received by the traveling community. Speaker 1 00:13:34 And what other components have you embedded that maybe we hadn't thought we needed, or weren't as aware that we needed. Speaker 2 00:13:41 When we talk about EDA, the platform, the design behind at is really human focused and it provides the ability to configure the platform to meet individual specific needs. So, you know, if you think about how you interact with an app based on what your individual needs are, each design element was meant to be able to configure to, uh, whether it's vision impairments or, um, uh, hearing impairments or deafness, uh, motor impairments and cognitive impairments. So you can play with the contrast. You can play with the, uh, the font. You can adjust the brightness, the darkness, the we have removed, um, hearing impairment, uh, distractions that, you know, a, a hearing person takes completely for granted, but someone who has that impairment, um, you know, that doesn't work for them. So we need to be able to adjust the application to meet the needs of our traveling population, which encompasses a wide variety of individuals. Speaker 1 00:14:48 Wow. Um, accessibility, you know, I, I, I hate to say that it is a surprise, but it's a good surprise. You know, there's so many technology companies, you know, have legal requirements for accessibility and they do the absolute minimum, but to really see you go this this far, it's, it's one of those elements that you're really proud of. And, and you know, that it's for everybody. And at this time in the world, everything that we do needs to be for everybody and not just single demographics. So kudos to you on that. Um, well, you know, you touched on something a little earlier when we were talking about compliance, you were talking about air compliance, right? What are you seeing now with the mobility, with the virtual workforce, with the international travel, coming back with more of an intent on duty of care, what are you seeing about hotel adoption and potentially ground transportation? I think I saw somewhere that 80% of ground spend was not captured, you know, in the booking processes. Can you tell me about trends and changes when it comes to hotel or ground? Speaker 2 00:15:58 That's a great point. I was surprised that that's statistic as well, 80%. That's a high number. So that's a lot of travelers that are under the radar with regard to booking cars, booking rides. We wanna capture that to be able to ensure that travel managers have visibility into that spend. And also to your point duty of care, we need to know where they are. And if there's a large gap of time that we don't know where they are, that leaves us vulnerable as travel managers, we're vulnerable to where are they? What are they doing? What are they spending? We need to know all of that. And so Dean is taking a stance and the look at mobility to be kind of holistic, right? And we're encompassing all kinds of activities that can get you from point a to point B, whether it be taxi, whether it be ride share, whether it be public transportation, some of our exciting news. Speaker 2 00:16:55 And I'm sure you've heard about that is our Uber for business integration. So that'll be the first partner in our mobility umbrella, and you'll be able to do some reserving of Uber rides right inside the app. So it will be another way to incorporate some of that ground spend and take to the next level of sustainability that will show you what's more compliant in terms of offsetting my carbon footprint. Is it better to rent a car or is it better to book a ride? So you'll be able to see those things as we move forward in expanding the mobility part of the EDA and offering. Speaker 1 00:17:34 So you've got your rental car, you've got your black car services, but that's not just pre-booking Uber. That will actually be real time as well. So are you actually leaving the Etta app and going to Uber or is it actually live in the Etta Speaker 2 00:17:48 App? Well, a couple of things. So you'll be able to do some things live in EDTA. You'll be able to get some notifications that are real time that reminds you, um, when you do eventually go to book your Uber ride, it will take you to the Uber app. So you will be in you grab booking it, and there'll be some back and forth with regard to sharing of information. And so you can get these things recorded in your trips, but yeah, you do leave and kind of go back and forth. Speaker 1 00:18:17 Well, I love that. I mean, because we, you go back to that organic compliance and from the TMC side right now, what we are seeing is a lot of travelers calling it as opposed to booking online. And we understand it, you know, there's, oh my gosh, so many flight cancellations, you know, so many routing reductions, right? And, and the weather is just off the charts, but at the end of the day, those travelers need to be comfortable. They need to be comfortable. They need to be confident. They need to know that they have nothing to worry about. They're gonna get on that plane, get in that car, go to that hotel and get home. And so I really, really appreciate the fact that technology in general is bringing about so much more information. You know, I'm back to that easy thing. I love that about at easier to travel anywhere because we have to make it easy for the travelers. And we want the travelers to we're well above 70% now in return to travel, we're all about looking forward and we need to provide those tools and services that are gonna help those travelers get that area of comfort with that. Kathy, I'm gonna ask you any closing remarks. What do you have? What's your wisdom to leave the audience Speaker 2 00:19:26 With? Oh, geez. Well, let's see. I think that for travel managers, I think it's hard, right? It's very difficult to make recommendations to your traveling population to keep them safe, informed. So I think that I would urge them to enlist their travel partners. Their TMCs are such a wealth of knowledge and information and helping them through some of those more difficult situations. And then by working also with the technology provider, we can come at this very holistically and address all of the concerns, whether it's an offline, what do I do in an emergency, or whether it's how best to apply the technology to my unique needs of my company. And then also internally engage the people that can help them, the risk management, the security department, the HR department, and they a cohesive message to the company. So they're not out there kind of on their island standing alone, but they're engaged. Speaker 2 00:20:30 And they are bringing this to the senior leadership team manner. That's addressed all of the, of, of the issues. So really rely on their partners because you know, in your agency, Tracy, you guys, you really have loyal followers. Who've been with you for a very long time, and we wanna help expand those relationships and solidify them. So we'd like you as well as a partner to rely on us to bring that to bear, right. We stand ready to help with our technology and the application of it, to the customers, with their unique needs. You know, I'll leave it with our acronym, right. Easier to travel anywhere, EDA. And, you know, I think it's a great name for a product. And it's a really resounding message. Speaker 1 00:21:18 I couldn't agree more. It's really why we decided to add EDA to our technology stack. We have fantastic clients, you know, and also fantastic people. The thing that sets ti apart is always about the passion for service and overachieving to what the travelers and the travel stakeholders needs are. So just by bringing these new technology components that are ahead of what travelers expect, because change is happening, people are moving forward, we're not doing business the way we did business years back, we're gonna continue to change and we need to continue to partner with the right companies and the right technology innovators that this industry has to offer. So Kathy, thank you so much for your thoughts today. We love exploring business travel topics, um, changes that are ahead of us and so that we can all embrace what's going forward. We thank you, the listeners and from all of us at travel incorporated, welcome back and travel safe. Speaker 4 00:22:20 Thank you for joining us today on this episode of your window seat, to learn more about travel incorporated, you can find us on our [email protected], inc.com or follow us on any of our social channels. We look forward to the next episode and as always at travel incorporated, travel safe.

Other Episodes

Episode

March 24, 2022 00:28:12
Episode Cover

Reestablishing Confidence in Your Travel Program (feat. Delta Air Lines' Dr. Henry Ting and Bob Somers)

On March 1, 2022, Travel Incorporated's SVP of Strategic Partnerships, Tony Peter, had the opportunity to sit down and host a livestream event with Delta Air Lines' Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting, and Bob Somers, SVP of Global Sales. Together, these three discuss the industry as we approach the remainder of 2022. For your convenience, we've consolidated the stream into this episode of Your Window Seat. ...

Listen

Episode

August 30, 2021 00:19:50
Episode Cover

Trends and Technology of Meetings and Incentive Travel

Companies across the globe are reviewing options for motivating their employees and exciting their clients through meeting technology options and in-person events. In this third episode of Your Window Seat Podcast, TI brings together Mary Ellen Hulett, our in-house Group Travel Partners Specialist, along with the CEO of Groupize, to discuss the latest trends in meeting and incentive travel, and to learn about new technologies that bridge the gap of in-person, hybrid and virtual meetings. ...

Listen

Episode

November 29, 2021 00:39:30
Episode Cover

Neutral to Net Zero - Understanding what Sustainability Means to your Travel Program

Earlier this month, we hosted the October Georgia Chapter BTA (Business Travel Association) meeting on sustainability. Join us on this episode of Your Window Seat Podcast with guest speaker Helen Hodgkinson, CoFounder of CACTUS; a climate action group for corporate travel, as we discuss sustainability in business travel, and the steps we can be taking as both individuals and corporations toward a more sustainable industry. ...

Listen