Questioning the travel industry status quo, one blog post at a time

Archive for the ‘Travel Industry’ Category

brucebishins smallWe were saddened to hear that Bruce Bishins, president and CEO of ARTA Canada, passed away last week. For all those who knew Bruce, either personally or simply through his speeches, blogs and media, it is no exaggeration to say that our industry lost a titan. A powerful, compelling voice has fallen silent, but the impact of Bruce’s legacy will live on for decades.

In a time when travel agencies and travel agent groups are experiencing enormous pressures—economic, political and technological—Bruce was consistently forward-thinking and unabashed to share his view of our industry’s future. He embraced modernizing the industry, but always demanded that his constituents—the travel agents—not be overlooked in the process. No matter the venue or the audience, you could rely on Bruce and his inspired mind to deliver a solid, fair message that challenged all of us to think bigger and to walk our talk.

The last time I saw Bruce was at the Department of Transportation Consumer Protection meeting in August 2012 in Washington, DC. Seeing Bruce at this meeting took me by surprise as he no longer had the physical appearance of the man I had known for years. I learned he had suffered a pretty severe stroke months earlier, which had clearly taken its toll on him. Outwardly, he seemed a shadow of his former self, but inwardly it was the same old Bruce, with his never-ending passion to do the right thing and to call out others when they did not. While Bruce had clearly suffered from his stroke physically, his heart, soul, and even his sense of humor were all still intact. And despite his struggle to “get the words out,” Bruce delivered a power-punched speech to a room full of industry and Department of Transportation executives. At one point he told me he was learning to talk all over again and joked that was the last thing he expected he would ever have to do, but that he was up for the challenge… as he always was.

Bruce was very seldom at a loss for words, and he certainly was not on that day many of us saw him in DC. He was an outspoken leader for the travel industry, driven by passion, the quest for innovation, and personal creativity. His calm, compassionate yet powerful voice will be missed.

I’m not sure if you caught IATA’s recent paper, “A Road Map to Prepare for Tomorrow’s Passenger: Five Goals Towards Sustainable Profits and Better Service,” but I must say I was more than impressed. My hat goes off to IATA for understanding that the status quo is no longer working for airlines, distributors, and the consumers they serve.

The paper, part of IATA’s Simplifying the Business (StB) program, looks to “define the next wave of projects that will allow the industry to save costs, improve service and prepare for tomorrow’s passenger.”

There are several key words there that make me believe IATA really gets it. Save costs—a clear need for an industry that is still using old and expensive technology. Improve service­—in case you haven’t noticed, the airline industry isn’t exactly winning over consumers, but we have the ability to change that. Tomorrow’s passenger—yes, yes, yes! Exactly! What consumers have come to expect is well beyond what we’re providing today. We have to recognize and anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s passenger today, and by doing so we will also save costs and improve service.

© Marek - Fotolia.com

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For someone who travels as much as I do, sleep is at a premium. Besides being a time for me to regain my strength, it’s also a time to escape the trials and tribulations of daily life. I mean, I love those dreams where I’m Indiana Jones. You know, chasing the bad guys, winning gunfights, and of course, recovering the gold. Or the ones where I’m a Pro Bowl quarterback throwing the game-winning touchdown, giving the postgame interview, then giving some kid my game ball as I tussle his hair on the way to my helicopter.

Now those are fun dreams. An escape. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than dreaming about work. I’m awake worrying about work 16 hours a day. The last thing I want is for it to start permeating my dreams. But sure enough, the other night I had a dream about what the conversation must be like these days between a Corporate Travel Manager and a Travel Management Company. Yeah, I know, not nearly as exciting.

Luckily for us, I was able to film one of my dreams. Don’t you imagine the conversation between Ms. Corporate Travel Manager and Mr. TMC would go something like this:

A Bobblehead’s Corporate Travel Manager Dream

You just gotta check this out. Over the past couple of days I have read a few Beat articles on which—for as much as I would like to just relax on a beautiful Sunday morning with my Metamucil, or Muesli, or whatever it is us “experienced” guys are supposed to take to keep us feeling spry—I simply must comment. I am referring to the articles where some large TMC execs (TMC is large, not the execs) have determined… let me get this right, “…should it [American Airlines] become unavailable in global distribution systems. CWT has indicated that because booking AA outside the GDSs drives up operational costs, the carrier’s exit would result in a $3 per-transaction “search” charge applied on all bookings for those clients wishing to include AA in their shopping. An additional $22 would be charged for bookings actually made with AA.”

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So there I was on Sunday—Mother’s Day—sitting on a very comfortable couch. I had just returned from the bakery after picking up a few of my wife’s favorite breakfast pastries. Now obviously she’s not my mother, but I figured I had to do something considering that the kids would probably once again be scrambling that morning to find something they didn’t want anymore to re-gift to her, or make a dash to the gas station for a lovely floral arrangement.

Anyway, everyone else was still asleep and I was enjoying a lovely cup of coffee. I figured I might as well catch up on some emails. As soon as I logged on, there it was—an email from the marketing team. The subject was, “BTC is at it again.” Great. What now? I had yet to even open it and my Sunday—Mother’s Day—was ruined.

Look, I’m sure the folks at Business Travel Coalition are not bad guys. Really. We just happen to be on diametrically opposite sides of the travel distribution debate. Oil and water. Fire and ice. You get the idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Hello blogosphere! I’m so happy to have you here on our new Ask the Question blog! We finally have our own little piece of the Web where we can share our—okay, my—thoughts, views and insights on travel distribution and technology with you. Isn’t it so exciting?!  I’m happy enough I could — ugh, who am I kidding? I can’t fake it anymore. Despite all these exclamation marks, I am not a happy camper.

First, the marketing team won’t give me the password to the blog, so I have to send everything to them first. I mean, what are they worried about? That I might have a glass of wine (or three) and write and post a blog piece that ends up in a libel suit? Not me. Yours truly would never commit such a peccadillo (thanks, word of the day calendar).
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