TCG corporate travel subject matter experts and industry professionals in attendance for the recent GBTA annual event in San Diego, California noted the following themes, trends and best practice reminders.

In Summary

The theme for the GBTA 50th Anniversary was Momentum; and while new supplier, technology and niche solution provider entrants can enable a corporate travel program’s momentum, the strategy to deploy program innovation should still emulate from each organization’s unique program (and broader company) imperatives.

An increasing number of global programs are now classified as “mature” based on the evaluation of standard industry criteria, and the next opportunity for strategic program management will be “How to carry Momentum through program maturity”.

Themes & Trends

  • Virtual Hotel Payment has continued to gain traction in replacing Direct Bill/Invoice processes, but some drawbacks still remain. For global programs, Virtual Payment requires VAT reclaim, and that often gets overlooked during trip cost reconciliation, spend capture and reporting.
  • The adoption of new corporate travel payment trends still provides areas of both opportunity and risk to an organization:
    • Best-in-class programs are driving incremental spend through card by expanding their payment vehicle product mixes (P-Card, Meetings, Virtual, etc.)
    • Optimized card programs and a strategic payment mix generates incremental revenue streams (i.e. increased rebates/revenue sharing)
    • Increased spend visibility supports more comprehensive reporting by leveraging multiple data sources across an end-to-end program
    • Globalization and expansion of card programs still brings with it implications around interchange, taxes, reconciliation, personal vs. corporate use, among others
  • The role of automation in managed programs and the future of how best to leverage Artificial Intelligence will impact the future of the industry

Best Practices

  • Traditional “one supplier fits all” strategies are being challenged by innovative approaches that utilize best-in-breed suppliers across travel, meetings, payment and expense (TMPE)
  • Meetings & Events integration with transient travel via Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) continues to be an area of interest for many organizations, however slower than anticipated progressions are still a reality for many programs. With that said, senior leadership is now more frequently prioritizing the time, resources and support costs required to yield the benefits of a SMM initiative.  The measurable returns that can be captured include consistent/consolidated data and reporting, optimization of meeting payment sources and revenues (i.e. card, direct bill), and unified travel and meetings policies. Other cross-category stakeholders also find value:
    • Procurement: Keen on visibility of spend vs. budget, the contract process, cost savings, policy process
    • Meetings Manager: Interest lies with simplified & streamlined registration processes, attendee tracking & engagement, attrition insight, overall post-event satisfaction & outcomes
    • Marketing:  Impression, database enrichment, vendor survey questions, net promoter score – successful lead generation