Looks like we're finally ready for real dialogue about the evolution of travel distribution
At least I think...
With my inbox at a dull roar, I can finally take the time to thank the Global Business Travel Association for another jam-packed year of informative sessions and countless opportunities to meet professionals working in the corporate travel space.
One session in particular at GBTA Boston last week signaled an important shift in the way industry players talk about changes in the corporate travel space. Titled “Rapid Fire: Future of Distribution,” the session sought to bring about discussion regarding how future changes to travel distribution will impact the ecosystem of travelers, travel managers, TMC’s, online booking tools and the GDS’s.
No one likes a soap box.
For the first time in a while, I felt I witnessed panel members visibly in dialogue with one another. In my experience, sometimes panels in the past at GBTA have felt slightly disjointed (which is by no fault of GBTA). On those few occasions, I've watched four or five people on stage each speaking as if they were each on their own soap box, seemingly making a huge effort to engage with the ideas and opinions of others on the panel as little as possible.
Engagement, engagement, engagement.
This session at GBTA could not have been more the opposite. So for that, many thanks to Cory Garner of American Airlines, Ian Heywood of Travelport, Jim Davidson of Farelogix and Nick Vournakis of CWT for the open communication that took place among all of you on stage. Though each member of the panel came with a different set of interests, I felt I saw for the first time in a while an effort made by panel members to consider the needs and objectives of one another. This is not to say that the road to more flexible travel content distribution won't be without its obstacles, but it at least makes it seem like that journey won't be quite so rocky.
At this point, engagement with each other is really what we need from all parties of the travel ecosystem when discussing the evolving reality of travel distribution. There's no sense in ignoring that many changes are sure to come. The airlines will continue to push for greater flexibility in the way they’re able to display and sell their content to corporate travel buyers, and a on-going, frank discussion about how this will all shake out can only benefit everyone.
I’d also like to give thanks to Rita Visser of Oracle for her excellent moderation. She kept the audience engaged and aided in facilitating the open discussion among the panel members.
The needs of the travel buyer must always come first.
And lastly, a big thanks to Cindy Novak of Kiewit for speaking up after the panel and reminding us suppliers—both of travel content and related technologies—that we must keep striving to provide our corporate clients with the richest content offerings and best deals out there. No matter how all these forthcoming travel distribution changes play out, we have to keep that in mind.
Working on our end to provide this for travel buyers requires a continual commitment to flexible, adaptable technologies. And though not always easy, that’s a cause we’ll gladly rally around!
About the author:
CEO of Innfinity, Beverly McCabe is a 25-year veteran of the lodging and travel industry.