The Beat is pleased to present pitches from a variety of industry voices competing to deliver a keynote address at our 15th annual The Beat Live event, taking place Dec. 7 in New York City.
Now it’s time for you, the reader, to choose your favorite.
Open to all subscribers, your votes will determine one keynote speaker and a few runners-up who will participate on The Views panel at our event. Our poll also asks readers to choose the recipients of our annual Readers’ Choice awards of the most-admired travel suppliers, which will be presented at The Beat Live.
Below are the keynote proposals, listed alphabetically by last name. Please review and then vote for your favorite, as well as for our annual Readers’ Choice awards, here.
Should We Trust Algorithms?
Senior Director of Analytics
“The rise of data science, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are leading to a revolution in data-driven travel programs. Algorithms have the potential to unlock major time and cost savings for travel managers and travelers alike. However, to what extent do and even should travel managers trust algorithms to provide trustworthy information they can confidently use to make smart business decisions? Algorithms often have a ‘black-box’ character, with data not always transparent. How precisely the algorithm works usually remains unclear. This can challenge trust in the algorithm and present travel managers with accountability issues for the algorithm’s decisions. How can tech companies build confidence in algorithms and the AI-fueled tech they power to help travel managers take positive steps towards adopting them?”
Leverage On An Unbalanced Scale
Senior Vice President of Business Development and Marketing
“We hear that we are all in this together, but are we really? Considering a dramatic increase in airfares while we live with unprecedented delays, cancellations and staffing shortages, where is the value? Traveler centricity and personal wellness requirements are raising the bar and driving policy changes to avoid even higher employee turnover. How do you factor in budget with retention? Who has the leverage with such an unbalanced scale?”
Payments Innovation In Travel: Charting The Road To Resilience
Senior Vice President and Head of New Flows for Europe
“Is there anything more complex than travel’s traditional payments ecosystem? Consumers and corporations purchase both directly and through intermediaries like online travel agencies, make simultaneous purchases of flights, hotels and car rentals and then pepper their plans with cancellations and revisions. To add to the challenge, today’s travelers expect a range of flexible and secure payment options, including credit and debit cards, bank directs, digital wallets and installment plans, to name a few. Moreover, many travel companies are still trying to recover from the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This keynote will address how innovations within travel payments technology can help unlock new opportunities to bolster resilience, improve margins, streamline processes and reduce operational costs. Doing so can have a tangible impact on revenue growth, market reach and conversion rates—critical factors for an industry still feeling the financial strain of the events of the last two years.”
Breaking Down Silos In Support Of Greater Sustainability
Vice President, Corporate Travel
“The economic damage and costly business disruption brought on by the global spread of the Covid-19 virus have helped gather momentum behind environmental sustainability and the array of efforts to battle climate change across all industries. The travel sector accounts for roughly 8 percent of global carbon emissions. A lot is happening to reduce these emissions: More sustainable planes are being introduced, and sustainable aviation fuels, carbon capture and green certification are being developed. But the efforts are dispersed and fragmented across the industry. How can a travel manager, in it for the long run, make sense of it all and introduce sustainable options in a structured way? And, is the industry ready? It is difficult to determine which ‘green’ certification may be adopted as a standard, or which suppliers offer the most sustainable options. To structure and adopt a sound sustainability approach, we have developed our own sustainability matrix to benchmark our key suppliers, and we have made this available via the Global Business Travel Association platform. But wouldn’t it be truly sustainable if we could come together as corporates, airlines and hospitality providers to agree on a common approach for assessing key sustainability indices, to implement an industry-recognized standard?”
A New Era Of Diversity, Equity And Inclusion In Travel
Global Crisis Manager
“What does the travel landscape look like for your diverse workforce? Are your minoritized employees aware of the unique risks they face traveling to certain countries? What is your organization’s moral and legal obligation to inform and prepare employees for the challenges they may encounter during business travel? In this session, attendees will come away with a new understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion in business travel and four ways they can incorporate DE&I to empower their travel program and employees to reduce risk and increase safety and inclusion. As a passionate advocate for travel safety, there will be no sales pitch as I have no associated product or service to sell—just a desire to raise attention to the intersection of duty of care, travel risk management and DE&I.”
Distribution Disruption: Three Contenders, Three Pretenders And One Dirty Little Secret
“There won’t be time to even mention T2RL while calling out the friends and fakes of disruption by name. This keynote will help you cut through the buzzwords to learn whose strategies will reshape the distribution landscape. Friends and fans of disruption will leave enlightened and encouraged. The fakes will be exposed for what they are, but with some free advice for how to reform. And what’s the dirty little secret? Choose this keynote to find out on Dec. 7 in New York!”
What If We’re Managing Travel All Wrong?
“Sooner or later, we will need to manage travel very differently. How will we recognize when the time has come? We’ll see three red flags: (1) Senior management’s goals and priorities for traveling have changed; (2) our current strategies for managing travel don’t support the new goals; and (3) the metrics and KPIs we use don’t help us achieve the new goals. The first red flag has been raised according to tClara’s survey of 522 U.S.-based business leaders. Executives now place greater priority on trip success, traveler retention and wellbeing, and reducing travel’s carbon emissions than they do on reducing prices. This has profound implications. I’ll show how travel should now be managed by anchoring it to these new corporate goals. This keynote will: lay out the ‘less travel, better results’ paradigm we now need; share six critical KPIs designed for this new paradigm; shoot down the case for internal carbon taxes; show which airlines have done the best at decarbonizing their flight revenues; explain why buyers should embrace higher prices; and challenge the audience to imagine a world where savings and discounts are not needed. And then I’ll take an ad-free breath.”
Today, Tomorrow, To Travel: Spotting The Signposts Of Change
Senior Director of Innovation Business Development
“Over the next 10 years, we are likely to see change on a scale not witnessed since the Industrial Revolution. It will be like going from a candle to a light bulb … or from a horse to a car. The scale of imagination required is vast. From NFT loyalty programs to self-driving Ubers, from adaptive travel policies to flying taxi hubs, the era ahead will be both exhilarating and challenging to navigate. This provocative, eye-opening talk helps you anticipate the road ahead, helping you spot the subtle signs of change that, however nascent today, contain the seeds of tomorrow’s business travel landscape.”
Confessions Of A (Reformed) Travel Manager
Vice President, Business Solutions
“Most of you know me as a cost-optimizing, bargain-hunting buyer. However, in my time locked away, I had time for deep reflection on my sins of the past and realized a path to redemption that will lead us all out of that old ‘race to the bottom’ and to a happier and more profitable future. In a spirited rally-style speech (OK, I’m not that reformed), I will share my epiphanies with specific post-Covid ideas on yesteryear approaches that continue to hamper us across the industry and offer new opportunities for all industry players (goal is no one is spared!) to reframe approaches, eliminate labor-intensive tasks that suck away profitability without delivering any value and increase revenue by offering services that buyers will actually (perhaps even gleefully) pay for. I’m a buyer so I have nothing to sell. That also means I don’t have a marketing department to lean on so I’ll need to write this crap myself. Therefore, in the event of a stolen election (i.e.: this presentation doesn’t win), I’m not spending any time writing an abridged version nor will I subject myself to the shenanigans of Tony D. and his ‘The Views’ circus.”
Blurring Boundaries Across Business, Travel And Politics
Nora Lovell Marchant
VP of Sustainability
American Express Global Business Travel
“The Inflation Reduction Act is the most meaningful climate law passed by a single country—in history. Combined with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, nearly half a trillion dollars in new climate and energy spending will be unleashed over the next decade. The EU’s sweeping Fit for 55 package along with new energy policies and mandates in the United Kingdom will bring historic climate-focused government intervention and investment that will be felt for years. But what do these transformative government policies mean for business travel? The future has come forward with accelerated investment through public/private partnership. Decarbonization will be cheaper across industries, with boosted low carbon infrastructure development and growing demand for renewable energy, electric vehicles, carbon offsets and carbon insets such as SAF, direct air capture and advanced clean technologies. Corporates must start now to re-evaluate decarbonization road maps and future-proof sourcing requirements to keep up with rapid deployment. Learn how your organization can secure early-mover advantage, capture the full value of sustainable levers and use business travel to achieve broader companywide sustainability objectives. This session also will explore insights on how book-and-claim solutions and blockchain can help accurately report emissions and accelerate your decarbonization journey.”
The Workplace Revolution Starts With Travel
Vice President of Product, Technology and UX
American Express Global Business Travel
“The world went back to work in September, but not everyone went back to the office. As employers, as employees, we’re getting to grips with a world where workplaces are more fluid, teams are distributed and collaboration occurs over distance. Digital connectivity made these new ways of working possible, but only human connectivity can make them work. And business travel is the critical enabler for human connectivity. It brings people together—to drive culture, support employee wellbeing and strengthen relationships. Ultimately, it’s business travel that helps individual remote-based employees become effective teams. The business travel function is pivotal to driving this change, helping organizations blend digital and human connectivity to make the new world of working work—for everyone: making corporates more agile, adaptive and resilient; giving employees better work-life balance; promoting belonging and a feeling of being valued; and enabling organizations to advance today’s key social and environmental priorities.”
Controlling The Hotel Distribution Ecosystem: The Post-Pandemic Panacea For TMCs
Chief Commercial Officer
“Post-pandemic hotel rates are rising sharply; corporates are making fewer trips due to sustainability objectives; TMCs are facing serious staff shortages and squeezed margins; and the cost-of-living crisis is impacting corporate travel budgets and TMC revenues. Corporate customers also want access to full hotel content. GDS-centric TMCs face the challenge of delivering seamless access to this content as their consultants have to shop multiple hotel booking platforms. Travelers/bookers increasingly feel under-serviced by TMCs, as they can book richer hotel content via other online channels themselves. TMCs need to take control of all that content to meet ever-changing customer needs and alleviate commercial challenges, not just now but for the future. TMCs need to adopt a smarter hotel strategy and technology that enables them to take control of the fragmented hotel distribution ecosystem, not only to create a better value proposition for their corporate customers (better content ultimately drives better traveler compliance), but also to gain vital incremental revenue by increasing hotel attachment rates, and to ease staffing challenges by boosting agents/consultants’ productivity.”
RIP To Legacy OBTs And Expense Reports. For Real This Time.
Vice President of Business Development, Corporations, Americas
“At the OBT Death Match session during the GBTA convention this year, ushers turned people away from a standing-room-only crowd. No doubt the future of online booking tools for business travel is a hot topic. The end of the OBT as we know it is in motion, and most enticing is the extinction of expense reports! The sooner we say goodbye to expense reports forever, the sooner companies can gain back billions of dollars via improved productivity and direct travel spend efficiencies. So what’s standing in the way? For starters, end-to-end digital spend management is complex—automatic expense creation, digital receipts, virtual cards, AI-driven auditing—the ingredients for expense-free solutions are here and there, but they’re disparate. Also, C-suite leaders don’t believe their IT systems nor their staff are equipped for solutions like virtual credit cards—a key factor in eliminating expense reports. Something’s gotta give. I believe our industry has more to gain (to the tune of $50 billion-plus) in the longer term that won’t see the light of day unless we start moving toward virtual credit cards now. Attendees will walk away from this talk with a business case to jumpstart decision-making about digital spend management for travel.”
How Many Revolutionaries Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?
“How often do we hear of startups, tech-led TMCs or suppliers planning to ‘revolutionize’ business travel? I disagree with ‘revolution’ being used so widely. It’s supposedly been happening for decades, and we still haven’t experienced a dramatic overhaul. Many so-called ‘revolutionaries’ have come and gone, but the core fundamentals and challenges remain the same. Superficially attaching bandages on a 60-year-old technical and commercial framework is not revolution. To experience progressive change, more of us should be relentlessly chipping away at the foundations instead of promising the earth; more businesses taking risks and challenging the norm. Expedite evolution, rather than dream of revolution! Everyone has a part to play in driving a collective and imaginative approach to innovation. We must make tech adoption commercially and technically viable and embrace current systems while fixing core problems and managing data more efficiently to realize its true value. Advancement is inevitable but the speed we evolve is purely down to us.”
The Humpty Dumpty Effect: When Traveler Experience Fails, We All Come Tumbling Down
Corporate Travel Practice Lead
Acquis Consulting Group
“From the days of the Lemmings, MS-DOS and dial-up Internet (we all remember the sound) to the new age of NFTs as tickets and blockchain-enabled travel platforms, so much has changed in the world of corporate travel. The collective ‘We’—travel managers, consultants, suppliers—are the true curators of traveler experience. Technology, traveler preferences and product offerings are constantly evolving. How do we ensure we’re preserving the experience of the traveler’s journey at the core of everything we do? There are so many pieces that make up a trip, and when one piece falls down, the rest of the overall experience crumbles as well, oftentimes unable to be repaired. We now have a unique opportunity at this exciting inflection point in travel. We have the ability to combine proven methodologies of creating enjoyable traveler journeys from the past few decades with innovative technologies, processes, and alternative travel methods (Metaverse! Virtual reality!) to ultimately drive the future of corporate travel experience. Each of us has an essential role to play in keeping all the pieces together to prevent all the king’s horses and all the king’s men from having to put it all back together again.”
The Forgotten 1/3
“What if I told you, TMC, GDS and OBT, that without adding another client, you can increase your business by 33 percent? What if I told you, travel manager, that without asking travelers to take even one extra trip, you can negotiate better terms with your suppliers with an additional 33 percent of volume? Consider this: (1) The GBTA Business Travel Index Outlook forecasts the business travel market will recover to only 65 percent of 2019 levels in 2022. Full recovery is years away; (2) Some companies have instituted travel restrictions, like Google’s ‘business-critical trip’ policy; and (3) 40 percent of travelers say they won’t travel again, per Morning Consult. Industry data have shown a third of business travel spend, perhaps more, is outside traditional travel programs. The silver lining lies in the ‘Forgotten 1/3.’ The industry has forsaken these travelers or created ad-hoc workarounds. Calling them rogue or noncompliant isn’t accurate. Long before ‘duty of care’ and ‘traveler wellness’ become buzzwords, they were taking action. Either you can work hard to increase client numbers in a declining market, or you can work smart. To succeed, you must remember the ‘Forgotten 1/3.’ Hopefully before they become the ‘Forgotten 1/2.’ “
The Evolution Of Corporate Travel Sustainability: Five Emerging Metrics That Will Reshape How Sustainability Influences Programs And Behavior
Global Sustainability Lead
“As sustainability continues to grab the headlines of the post-Covid recovery, it is vital that we as an industry recognize that sustainability is not a single-track course—it is unique for every travel program and organization, with many nuances to consider. These differentiating elements include everything from the industry a company operates in, to the climate goals (or potentially science-based targets) a company commits to, and everything in between. In sync with the increasingly central role of sustainability, especially concerning how a travel program is pieced together, we will need new metrics throughout our industry to both enable and manage these practices of tomorrow. Some of these metrics already exist but have not been in focus. Others are yet to truly emerge despite the fact that we have all the building blocks to bring them to the forefront. This session will explore five of these key metrics, how they will impact both travel programs and traveler behaviors, and why we can expect to see them taking center stage in the travel solutions of tomorrow.”
Creating A Modern Booking Experience For Corporate Travelers Is A Must
President and CEO
“Corporate travel is a competitive business, and the amenities and information shared—the ‘content’—is often the differentiator that makes the sale. If airlines can show off what their product offering truly is for the traveler, that is, get to a better representation of the experience, will the result be more bookings and fewer changes? Effective offer presentation lets companies and corporate travelers visualize what they are getting before they buy. The formula is simple: The more airlines can show off their product, the more likely corporates are to buy, and be loyal. Hear how the modern shopping experience has become a must-have in winning the corporate market, and find out how airlines and channels can effectively merchandise in any channel.”
You Have To Look Back To Look Forward
Senior Finance Leader
“A number is just that—a number—until you compare it to another number. Then, the fun begins. Do you want to learn how to make data sing, dance and excite audiences? I can help! Have you ever asked yourself: What are the key drivers of my business? How do I build an effective forecast? Will I ever find people who love data and can help me translate it into everyday language? How do I know when data reflects anomalies, trends or clues for my next analysis? If you answered yes to any or all of these, join me—a lover of data and master of predictive analytics. I’ll teach you how to use data to persuade leaders, get ahead in your career and engage people. Expect metaphors, case studies and collaboration during this session. Together, we’ll bring sexy (data) back.”
Thanks to everyone who submitted a pitch. Now, the readers decide. Please vote here for your favorite.