16 experts advise on what’s to come this year.
Any effort to identify a given year's most influential
business travel executives always will contain an element of futility. True
influence, after all, may not reveal itself immediately or in particularly
dazzling fashion. Still, in a dynamic 2011, there was no shortage of people
whose effect on the industry—positive or negative—demands recognition.
Generally meant to benefit their own organizations, their
decisions had farther-reaching influence in a turbulent time. The industry
began last year emerging from a recession but ended it with a cautious outlook.
In between it experienced acquisitions, technological innovation and the
continued shift to traveler-centrism. It also saw lawsuits, bankruptcies and
numerous other challenges.
The 25 Most Influential Executives of 2011 is BTN's 27th annual
attempt to identify them. This list was determined by The BTN Group editors in
December and January, following several solicitations for nominations from the
industry. It is not a ranking; BTN is
not measuring their relative influence against one another.
BTNthanks all those who participated in creating this year's list, including
everyone who pitched a nominee, participated in the vetting process or granted
Click on each individual's name to read their entry.
Ed Adams, Directravel
Prime Numbers Technology
InterContinental Hotels Group
Michelle De Costa,
Steve Jobs, Apple
Ray LaHood, U.S.
Department of Transportation
Mick Lee, Citi
Global Business Travel Association
John Mica, U.S.
House of Representatives
Ronald Nelson, Avis
U.S. Transportation Security Administration
Lee Preston, Illinois
Ruesink Consulting Group
Steve Sear, Delta
Randy Smith, STR
Jeroen van Hek,
He's back. Longtime travel management company owner and
entrepreneur Ed Adams last year engineered investments by private equity firm
Silver Oak Services Partners in Directravel and Corporate Travel Services. In
doing so, Adams and his money men began recreating the rollup concept that he
in another life implemented to build Navigant International, which Carlson
Wagonlit Travel bought in 2006.
He instantly became the buyer to watch in travel management
company M&A. Adams last year said that he aims to combine several midmarket
corporate travel agencies into a $1.5 billion travel management company.
During an interview this month, Adams said that even as he
fishes for new acquisitions—and some already are on a hook—he also is focused
on implementation. "It's great to buy them, but then you have to integrate
them and look for that best-practice approach and the standardization," he
said. Discussions about how to bring together the first two acquisitions are
just beginning. Adams said he is looking to have common reporting and
mid-office systems, but the company will not attempt to standardize on one
global distribution system.
To help in the effort, Adams just before the new year hired
former Navigant and CWT tech exec Darryl Hoover to serve as CIO of the company,
which for now is using the Directravel moniker. Also once a member of the
Navigant fold, Lisa Buckner continues in her role running operations at CTS.
Longtime Directravel executive Pat Fragale runs operations there. Adams referred
to the two operational leaders as handling the Midwest and East, respectively,
implying that he plans to explore the kind of regional structure Navigant had.
President, Prime Numbers
In 2007, travel tech veteran Rock Blanco set out to create
the world's largest travel management benchmarking database. His company, Prime
Numbers Technology, through its Travel GPA brand may not have accomplished that
in absolute terms, but "as an independent, third-party developer,"
Blanco said, "my objective was to acquire as much content as I could and
get it to be reliable and dependable so that subscribers could see the value
and travel smarter. I truly believe we have accomplished that."
Blanco's record of innovation during a 25-year career
includes helping to develop the first-ever Web-based travel reservations
application on the Sabre platform while at Aquarius Travel and designing iBank,
the industry's first Web-based pre-trip and travel reporting system, which
Cornerstone bought in 2000.
The latest innovation, the Travel GPA benchmarking database,
encompasses 45,000 organizations, representing annualized travel expenditures
of about $5 billion. Data is aggregated from travel management companies,
corporations, global distribution systems, credit card companies, expense
reporting systems, human resources departments, financial data feeds and other
In addition to internal and external benchmarking, Travel
GPA allow users to monitor, analyze and optimize airline, hotel and car rental
corporate travel programs; determine best practices and savings opportunities;
customize alerts to monitor traveler behavior; compare their carbon footprints
to peers; and generate scorecards with rankings for 90 key travel metrics.
It goes beyond flashy dashboards. Over the years, executives
at some mid-size agencies have credited Travel GPA with helping them bid for
accounts against mega TMCs by equipping them with what they called the industry's
best data. At the time of launch in 2007, Blanco said, "Today, about the
best you can do is benchmark against your own numbers and your own accounts,
and that's pretty lame."
After making significant inroads since then by attracting
more than 100 agency users and striking industry partnerships, Travel GPA in
2011 had a banner year, generating a 200 percent year-over-year jump in
revenue. It picked up such U.S. TMC clients as Christopherson Business Travel
and began expanding outside North America by forging relationships with
GlobalStar and Israel's Amsalem Global Travel Management.
In a watershed development, the company struck a deal with
Travelport, which described Travel GPA's benchmarking database as "the
global travel industry's largest." Travelport made available to U.S. and
Canadian corporate and travel agency subscribers the benchmarking database and
analytics service, noting that the system provides "the efficiencies of a
common-use environment to compare, analyze, control and reduce travel spending."
Blanco said the Travelport deal was "a testimonial to where we had come as
a start-up and defined our credibility."
Prime Numbers Technology last year also leveraged its
technology as a web service with an application programming interface through
which other tech providers can bring Travel GPA content into their
applications. The company also released the free iStats app, a "scaled
version" of the Travel GPA report card. To date, Blanco claimed more than
3,000 installations "with no marketing effort whatsoever." The
company expects to soon release additional Travel GPA components as mobile
By the end of 2011, most inquiries about Travel GPA were
coming directly from corporations rather than TMCs, according to Blanco. "These
companies now are requiring us to pull in credit card spend, expense data,
matching booked versus actual data and take the scope of Travel GPA to a whole
new level," he said, noting that the company intends to focus "on
predictability, where the analytics become smarter than the individuals using
it, and we can look for patterns."
Chairman, Orbitz & Executive
Travelport was all over the headlines in 2011. Until the
summer appointment of Gordon Wilson as chief executive, Jeff Clarke served in
that role alongside his position as chairman of Orbitz. In addition to a
variety of product and service-related initiatives at both companies that can
be credited to Clarke, Wilson, Orbitz CEO Barney Harford and their teams, it
was the Orbitz-Travelport relationship itself that apparently sparked one of
last year's biggest, and still ongoing, developments—the American Airlines
Direct Connect-inspired conflict with global distribution system providers and
Many noted the irony of American in late 2010 picking on
Orbitz, the formerly airline-owned online travel agency that last decade
launched the first direct connect of its kind, a GDS bypass called Supplier
Link. But the subsequent investment in Orbitz by Travelport, which makes most
of its money from GDS bookings, led to reduced use of GDS bypass and, at least
according to American, precipitated the AA-Orbitz falling out that factored
into 2011's business actions, litigation and regulatory investigations. Clarke
during an interview this month declined to comment due to pending litigation.
In terms of the strategies behind the tactics in today's
distribution saga, one broad change that Travelport has been trying to
facilitate—more than any other GDS operator—is the transfer of distribution
expenses to travel agency intermediaries (and presumably their customers) from
the supplier set. Clarke has framed this transformation as an effort to get
users of technology to pay for that technology. Makes sense on its face, but
unraveling decades of financial dependencies has proved no small task as
Travelport's TMC users this month rejected the Agility package, launched in
late 2011, designed to provide new value but also new cost.
Clarke declined to comment specifically on the Agility
program, but the former Computer Associates and HP executive made the following
general assessment: "It's a change in the business model, but it's not a
radical change. I come from an industry that builds great technology and then
charges for it. It's surprising that when a company like Travelport makes the
decision to up our game in innovation and technology, and then to charge for
it, that that makes news."
Being a major player in travel technology and management,
Travelport's health as a company has influence in the market. Clarke last year
intimately was involved in an "amend and extend" refinancing that
delayed some of Travelport's debt obligations and, he said, allowed it to
continue investing appropriately in products and services. The move diluted the
share of the company that Travelport's private-equity owners maintain. Now 40
percent of the firm is owned by a changeable list of dozens of investors in a
tradable security, and Travelport has new independent board members.
Also in 2011, Travelport launched its Universal Desktop
agent user interface with pilot user Flight Centre of Australia, which Clarke
called "the most significant new product [release] to subscribers that has
been provided in the last decade."
Former CEO, InterContinental
Andrew Cosslett in 2011 decided to step down as CEO of
InterContinental Hotels Group, ending six years of leadership that included a
complete overhaul of an iconic brand to make it more palatable to business
travelers and the launch from scratch of a new brand that since has emerged as
one of the industry's best-rated.
Under Cosslett's watch, IHG invested about $1 billion to
remake its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands, a project that included
removing 1,000 underperforming hotels, adding communal lobbies for travelers
and improving bedding and bath amenities.
Other major chains more recently have embarked on large
overhauls—Starwood Hotels & Resorts for its Sheraton brand and Carlson
Hotels for Radisson, for example—but Holiday Inn's renewal already has had a
palpable impact on business travel. In BTN's
2011 U.S. Hotel Chain Survey, for example, the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn
Express brands rose to the top of the midprice tier. They earned higher
satisfaction scores among travel buyers than in 2010 while overall scores for
the midprice tier declined.
Cosslett also oversaw the launch of the Hotel Indigo
boutique-style brand. North American travelers surveyed by J.D. Power and
Associates this year rated it the top upscale brand, besting such bigger chains
as Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott.
IHG during Cosslett's tenure also was at the forefront of
numerous hotel technology trends. It was one of the first hotel companies to
develop a mobile app for booking, subsequently expanded across each brand. From
2009 to 2011, IHG's revenues derived from mobile channels increased to more
than $130 million from $2.5 million, according to officials. Holiday Inn also
tested technology in a few markets allowing travelers to use mobile phones as
Following Cosslett's departure, several of his strategies
are continuing at IHG with former CFO Richard Solomons now at the helm. Next on
the agenda: a multiyear overhaul of IHG's upscale Crowne Plaza brand that will
include spiffing up current properties, expanding into more gateway cities and
removing hotels that fail to meet brand standards.
—Michael B. Baker
President & CEO, AirPlus International
Sitting in the "middle of airlines changing how they
distribute, price and sell, and buyers having to live with changes to policy,
traveler behavior and how they were going to track costs," AirPlus
International realized early last year that "even absent an ancillary fee
reporting standard that a lot of groups were working to build," it could
apply knowledge to devise reports that would help buyers track such spending,
according to president and CEO Richard Crum. Airline data files contained "not
just clues, but evidence of what each charge was for," he said.
Partnering with Concur and Continental Airlines, AirPlus was
among the "party of three" that created ancillary fee spending
reporting for mutual client eBay and the rest of the AirPlus client base. "It's
taking the mystery away," and often used more for internal education and
policies than for airline negotiations, Crum added.
Meanwhile, AirPlus at year-end introduced an advanced
version of its carbon footprint tracking and offsetting option, and, in the
United States, debuted purchasing card options. AirPlus also aligned with
European banks in France, the Nordic region, Spain and Switzerland to launch a
partnership that offers one contract, one contact and consolidated data, as
well as payment products tailored for each market.
In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Benelux countries,
AirPlus introduced a debit card as a means for customers to avoid credit card
surcharges introduced by parent Lufthansa Group.
Crum said he's been talking about such fees for a "long
time and didn't always get a lot of kudos from competitors who didn't like me
talking about the reality that the model of merchants paying 100 percent of
costs," with a large portion passed back to clients "in rebates,
financial incentives and signing bonuses, is an unhealthy way to do business.
We talked mostly in 2011 about Europe, but I don't think we're that far away
from it being a reality in the United States."
—Mary Ann McNulty
Michelle De Costa
Global Travel Manager, Sapient
Business Travel News
in 2011 named Michelle De Costa its Travel Manager of the Year for her work as
Sapient global travel manager in "rethinking how she should communicate,"
proving the value of travel management and "helping pioneer the use of
social media in managed travel." In addition to that recognition, De Costa's
reward for previously taking a broader view of her company role as a
communicator was, well, a broader role in her company as a communicator. She
now blogs internally on behalf of finance, real estate and procurement as well
It is not necessarily a path other travel managers would
want to take, but it illustrates how emerging technologies are shaking things
up and how a travel professional might apply his or her skills to new
opportunities. De Costa was not the only travel buyer to do this, but she also
showed peers how social media could be harnessed to support the travel program
through compliance, promotion, intelligence gathering and supplier relations.
De Costa shared these lessons and others related to
corporate housing, duty of care, policy compliance and other travel management
issues throughout last year during about a dozen in-person industry events,
webinars and advisory board meetings. Even her boss, the vice president of
global procurement and real estate, made industry appearances to discuss how
the travel management function, as De Costa shaped it, interacts with his own.
Chairman of the
Executive Board & CEO, Deutsche Lufthansa
When BTN in
October 2011 hosted a travel manager benchmarking discussion in Paris,
participants took turns denouncing the Lufthansa Group of airlines for
announcing payment card surcharges on bookings through travel agents. If new
Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz had been in the room, he may have considered this
a little unfair, given that KLM and British Airways already had made exactly
the same move. However, this vignette also would have confirmed for him a
bigger underlying story: Corporate clients kvetch about Lufthansa because they
fear it as the most powerful beast in the airline supplier jungle.
Lufthansa exercises its strength not only through the
airlines it owns (core Lufthansa plus Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels
Airlines), but also through its dominant role in Star Alliance and the
transatlantic joint venture Atlantic Plus-Plus. In one example of this control,
Lufthansa confirmed to BTN that it
loads corporate fares in Europe on behalf of all Atlantic Plus-Plus carriers
(also including Air Canada, United Airlines and its Continental Airlines
Lufthansa-owned airlines in 2011 merged many of their sales
teams and Atlantic Plus-Plus added Swiss, Austrian and BMI British Midland to
offer what it described as "metal-neutral corporate contracts" and "seamless
combinability" on the same corporate fare.
Critics point out that Lufthansa has links with so many
other airlines (a transpacific joint venture with All Nippon Airways launched
in June 2011, for example) that it limits competition. They cite Lufthansa's
home market, Germany, where long-standing rows over financial clawback and data
disclosure clauses in the core airline's corporate contracts came under
investigation by the country's competition authorities.
Lufthansa has indicated it will alter those contracts this
year, and Franz gave signs after he assumed control from Wolfgang Mayrhuber in
January 2011 that the group is reaching the limits of its power. Franz declared
that additional acquisitions in Europe are unlikely, thus ruling out previously
anticipated moves for SAS and LOT Polish Airlines. In December he agreed to
sell loss-making U.K. subsidiary BMI to International Airlines Group, the
holding company that includes British Airways and Iberia. Franz also has
initiated cost-cutting measures and curbed route expansion after expressing
concerns about weak economic conditions in Europe and costs borne by the
aviation industry, including those stemming from the European Union's Emissions
Chairman & CEO, Sabre Holdings
No company more aggressively fought American Airlines'
Direct Connect program in 2011 than Sabre Holdings, which garnered substantial
industry support, provided loads of public commentary, employed more than 100
lawyers to handle various court and regulatory challenges, inserted itself into
litigation between two other parties and even altered its displays to hurt AA,
prompting a slap on the wrist by the Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, no travel technology company is doing more than
Sabre to support the corporate world's desire to integrate videoconferencing
with travel as comparable collaboration options. Sabre is building a res system
for virtual conferencing, in partnership with conferencing providers, and has
joined one of their trade groups.
Given legal entanglements, Sabre chairman and CEO Sam
Gilliland was more willing in an interview this month to talk about the second
topic: "It is recognition that businesses have a need for people to meet,
and sometimes that's face to face and sometimes that's via a conference call or
a videoconference, but in any case what the travel industry really enables is
the opportunity for people to communicate."
Gilliland's team also counted among their accomplishments in
2011 the issuance of the first Electronic Miscellaneous Document and other
important steps toward fully enabling airline merchandizing and ancillary sales
through the GDS; conversions of travel management companies including Casto
Travel and USTravel from another GDS; the launch of their B2B App Store;
improved integration of the TripCase mobile solution with other Sabre products,
including GetThere; a new GDS profile system; and the wide proliferation of
Sabre's Red desktop system.
Gilliland also represents the industry on the Secretary of
Commerce's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
CEO, SilverRail Technologies
Even if corporate travel buyers aren't entirely familiar
with SilverRail Technologies, they've most likely heard of Egencia, Orbitz for
Business, GetThere and Rearden Commerce, all of which partnered with SilverRail
during the past year and a half.
Through SilverRail and its growing roster of booking
channels, corporations have gained new avenues to search, book and manage rail
content, particularly in Europe, where demand for rail travel often exceeds
availability in corporate booking channels.
When co-founder and CEO Aaron Gowell started SilverRail in
2009, the challenge was evident: "How do you build a platform that truly
integrates all this rail?" he asked. "If you talk to any GDS, they'll
say, 'Well, we have rail.' But if I can't see it in an air search or in someone's
tool or on Expedia or through the point of sale, then something's not working.
That's the guts of our reasoning and what we're trying to fix here. We're
trying to make rail as easy to book as air."
Despite rail industry deregulation that opened the European
market to more competition and cooperation, national rail lines weren't
necessarily built for interoperability. "Rail lines were how you invaded
your neighbors in Europe. You rolled your trains into their countries,"
said Gowell. "None of these systems were ever designed to actually work
together. In fact, I think they have done everything they can to make them
byzantine and as hard to interpret as possible."
That's where SilverRail came in. "We built a middleware
system that reinterprets all the components of a normal rail transaction:
search, ticketing, booking, fulfillment," Gowell explained. "For
example, you could have two trains running into London St. Pancras rail
station, and Eurostar will call St. Pancras by one code and the U.K. operator
is going to call it by a different code. If the whole world runs off of
different codes and there are no standards, then you can never really book
anything together. For the airlines, there is a set of standards that they
built; that way people can link transactions together. We essentially built a
master code database for every station in the world. That allows us to do
searches and link some rail providers together."
SilverRail won't disclose how many rail operators provide
content through its system, but its inventory includes operators in Belgium,
Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"The biggest goal is to have all of the rest of Europe
on this platform by the end of 2013," Gowell said. "It will take us
two years to get every single rail line in Europe done, but it will get done,
and then we'll move on and focus on Asia."
Meanwhile, Gowell said SilverRail is discussing solutions
with travel management companies and, potentially, global distribution systems.
Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, United Airlines
In his years leading the Continental Airlines sales team,
Dave Hilfman built a reputation for being candid and colorful. That reputation
would come in handy when in mid-2010, as many hoped, the new United Airlines
named him senior vice president of worldwide sales.
Following the official close of the United-Continental
merger in October 2010, Hilfman faced the huge tasks of creating a unified
sales force and reworking thousands of corporate deals. Those challenges
largely were met during 2011, though he's the first to point out that much more
work is needed.
"The first tough decision," he said, "was
determining the structure of the new sales force, how many people around the
world and the leadership in each region." The airline had to consider
local regulations and labor laws, and the extent to which foreign partners
would handle representation in their home markets.
"As you go through significant integration work, you
have to make sure you keep everybody as focused as possible externally on
clients. It's not an easy thing to do," Hilfman explained. "People
are still interviewing for their jobs. You have to keep people motivated and
inspired even as they are not exactly sure if they are going to be on board."
The work of assembling a worldwide sales force is "essentially
accomplished," Hilfman said this month. "We're optimally staffed at
this point in time." That means 850 employees spread around the globe, 20
percent fewer than pre-existing Continental plus pre-existing United.
"2011 was not an easy year," said Hilfman. "We
certainly had some very interesting discussions with corporate clients. The
vast majority were pleased. A small percentage were disappointed."
Evidence supporting that assertion came from BTN's Annual Airline Survey. Continental
perennially had ranked at or near the top while United perennially had ranked
at or near the bottom. Rated in 2011 by buyers as a single entity, the new
United finished second overall.
But some corporate buyers and agency executives anecdotally
have been dismayed that new contract offers or account management fell short of
expectations. "We do have to make money and provide a good return for our
shareholders, and part of that is how we structure all of our deals,"
Hilfman said. "Unfortunately, some clients won't get as lucrative a deal
as they were hoping for. We want to be easy to do business with, but that doesn't
mean we always say yes. When you have this size network and this many corporate
clients, you may not make everyone happy. We have been very focused on doing
The United sales team during 2011 also worked more closely
with joint venture partners; Hilfman reported "significant headway in
harmonizing our programs" with Air Canada and Lufthansa. But he noted that
many multinational clients don't yet have JV deals and acknowledged the
concerns of some corporate buyers regarding what they perceive as Lufthansa's
domineering ways in Europe. "All the partners have made some changes in
how we might approach our corporate pricing; some of the terms and conditions
that we used to have in place might have been modified," he said. "We'll
United last year also began adding to Continental aircraft
the Economy Plus class of service—the only premium economy product in the
domestic U.S. market. Hilfman said he and his team were "very involved"
in the Economy Plus decision by sharing client feedback and, once the merger
officially closed, analyzing United client data. "Do they like it? Are
they paying for it? The numbers," Hilfman said, "proved to us that
this was the right thing to do."
Apple in 2001 introduced the iPod, followed by the iPhone
and then the iPad, devices typically found today in travelers' pockets or
carry-ons. Ironically, it was last year—the year Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
died—when the impact such technologies have on travel really became evident.
That travelers can use mobile devices to book trips, check
status, show boarding passes, capture receipts, complete and approve expense
reports, rebook flights and convert currencies dramatically impacts
But it goes beyond all that.
In some cases, travelers are using apps that are not provided
to them as part of the managed travel program, causing friction and questions
about control, compliance and the meaning of the travel program. Many are
taking action to keep up with always-connected travelers and to offer
The likes of Concur have adopted Jobs' attitude about
marketing to enterprises—that is, if you market to travelers their employers
Plenty of travelers use mobile devices that run on the
Android and BlackBerry platforms, which each adopted Apple's App Store notion.
That concept in 2011 made its way into travel technology as each global
distribution system provider announced or launched app store initiatives of
their own. It remains to be seen whether the GDSs can harness the development
capacity of a limitless number of software makers, as Apple did.
Almost every major travel technology provider now has a
mobile strategy, if not apps, in the market.
According to biographer Walter Isaacson's book, Jobs "knew
that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity
with technology, so he built a company where leaps of the imagination were
combined with remarkable feats of engineering. They developed not merely modest
product advances based on focus groups, but whole new devices and services that
consumers did not yet know they needed."
Secretary, U.S. Department of
An increasingly vigilant U.S. Department of Transportation
in 2011 continued to propose new air consumer protections and reprimand
airlines and agencies for violating the growing number of regulations.
In April, Ray LaHood, serving his first—and only, he's
said—term as Secretary of Transportation, announced another set of rules,
requiring airlines among other things to reimburse bag fees if passengers' bags
are lost, pay passengers double the previous compensation for being
involuntarily bumped, avoid post-purchase fare increases and "prominently
disclose" on their websites all potential fees. Set to take effect this month,
the rules also will compel carriers and travel agencies to include all
government taxes and fees in every advertised price and provide applicable
bag-fee information "on the first screen" when offering a fare quote.
One rule that DOT proposed in 2010 but delayed several times
during 2011— requiring airlines to make optional services fee data available
through global distribution systems—helped frame debates around airline-GDS
deals, full content, airline direct connects and related topics. DOT later proposed
a controversial add-on: requiring travel agencies to disclose incentive
payments from airlines, make clear which airlines they do not sell and reveal "any
preferential display of individual fares or carriers" in their fare
Enforcing many of the rules already on the books—including
those finalized in the first two years of LaHood's tenure—DOT in 2011 doled out
dozens of fines to U.S. and foreign airlines totaling millions of dollars.
Penalties related to deceptive price advertising in air travel, failing to
adequately disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a
codeshare deal and tarmac delay violations. Noting the very few lengthy tarmac
delays reported since rules went into effect in April 2010, LaHood in June
claimed, "We've accomplished our goal of virtually eliminating the number
of aircraft leaving travelers stranded without access to food, water, or
working lavatories for hours on end."
In August, new DOT rules expanded the ban on lengthy tarmac
delay to international flights operated by both U.S. and foreign airlines.
"The Obama administration's aviation consumer
protection initiatives have resulted in an unprecedented expansion in the
rights of airline passengers," according to written comments provided to BTN and attributed to LaHood. "As a
result, air travel today is much more convenient and hassle-free than it was
just a couple of years ago."
When asked to assess airlines, airports and travel
distributors in their efforts to comply with new air consumer protections,
LaHood responded, "Overall compliance has been good, but we have opened a
number of enforcement investigations regarding tarmac delays and whether
carriers are disclosing information over the Internet as required by our rules.
Those investigations are ongoing."
In other developments, DOT in October finally approved a
request by Delta and US Airways to trade some of the former's take-off and
landing slots at Washington Reagan National for some of the latter's at New
York LaGuardia. To promote competition, DOT required the carriers to divest via
auction eight pairs of daily slots at National (where JetBlue won the bidding)
and 16 pairs at LaGuardia, where Canada's WestJet Airlines obtained its first
slots at the airport.
Managing Director of the Global Travel Department, Citi
Citi in May 2011 launched a collaborative, internal social
media site for travel that provides a forum for frequent travelers, travel
arrangers and travel department staff to communicate about programs and
policies and share tips and experiences. The global financial services firm,
which fields 60,000 travelers in 100 countries, last year also pushed travel
suppliers to commit to contractual terms and conditions before bidding on its
sizable business. Mick Lee played a central role in both initiatives.
The first project sprung from a larger Citi initiative, the
Citi 2.0 global social network, which counts 100,000 users around the globe.
Travel Insider was the first of its kind to launch within Citi 2.0. "We
were in at the beginning because we wanted to be sure we were transforming the
way we manage this travel program," Lee said. "Looking at travel, at
duty of care, at employee empowerment, at the re-engineering effort [that Citi
is planning for 2012], at where the market is and at cost-reduction
opportunities, this vehicle serves all those things."
Despite initial hesitation to provide a forum for
complaints, Citi opted to "embrace the reality" of social media's
role in everyday life. Team members are designated to monitor activity, verify
information and promptly respond as necessary. They include regional travel
managers and Citi Expense Management Policy coordinators, including
administrative assistants and others involved in booking or managing travel.
Lee said she has been encouraged by instances of travelers "sticking
up on our behalf, protecting the reasons behind a policy or sharing their
views." She has shared in various forums the experiences and results of
the project with Citi's travel suppliers and travel management professionals
around the industry. A relaunch in May 2012 will include several enhancements.
Meanwhile, Lee in 2011 also continued to lead a sourcing
strategy that required airlines, hotels and travel management companies to
agree to certain contractual components before receiving a formal RFP. The
objective was to align travelers' service needs, management's cost-saving
objectives and travel suppliers' goals. Key to the project was engaging Citi's
legal and data privacy departments, building a global cross-disciplinary team
to thoroughly plan RFPs and convening various employee councils and committees.
Citi required airlines to commit to certain conditions
regarding clearance of fare basis codes and hotels to commit to certain
language regarding honoring reservations, guaranteeing last-room availability
and ensuring negotiated rates are accessible. Interested travel agencies were
told that signing bonuses would be tied to terms and conditions and that
monthly invoices would not be paid when agreed-upon service levels are not met.
This unique and aggressive approach forced the company's
suppliers to think differently and earned Lee the distinction of being named by
BTN as a 2011 Best Practitioner.
Executive Director, Global Business Travel
When the National Business Travel Association last year
officially exchanged its "N" for a "G," as in global,
executive director Michael McCormick insisted the change wasn't superficial.
"This was more than a brand change," he said. "It
was a philosophical change, changing the role of what we think an association
Backed by GBTA's staff and board of directors, McCormick has
since presided over the organization's accelerated global expansion, the
introduction of numerous tools and new events and an overhaul of its
educational and travel buyer certification programs.
At the same time, GBTA membership has grown within the core
U.S. market and elsewhere through acquisitions and organic development. The
association has become a formidable presence in Europe since 2010, when it
first officially planted its flag there by bringing many Paragon partner
organizations under the GBTA umbrella. It also has strengthened its position in
Latin America, where it recently introduced the new GBTA Brazil, and named a
regional director for Asia to oversee expansion plans there, McCormick said.
In addition to creating numerous procurement and training
tools—a newly globalized modular hotel request for proposal, a customized
training program for Delta Air Lines' sales force and a strategic KPI resource
toolkit, to name a few—the association also launched several industry-specific
events. They include forums focused on travel professionals from the sports,
government and energy sectors. McCormick said to expect more of those this
"More and more, people want to come to conventions that
have products and services tailored toward their specific needs," he said.
GBTA in 2011 also dropped its previous system of
professional designations and created a three-tiered educational certificate
program. McCormick said the idea is to provide a travel industry equivalent to
such professional designations as Certified Public Accountant, which in turn
should give travel buyers more influence within their own organizations. "If
you look at careers such as human resources, the head of HR in a company is
usually in the C-suite, sitting at the right hand of the decision-makers,"
he said. "Travel deserves that same level of influence."
Chairman, House of
Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
In November 2010, 18 House Democrats on the Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure lost elections for their congressional seats,
including committee chair James Oberstar (D-Minn.). A month later, House
Republicans chose Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) to replace him. That allowed Mica to
help set the discourse for national debates on Federal Aviation Administration
funding, the Transportation Security Administration's effectiveness and
high-speed rail development.
Previously the committee's minority leader and one-time
chair of the aviation subcommittee, Mica authored the last multi-year FAA
authorization signed into law. That technically expired in 2007; FAA ever since
has been operating on a series of extensions, the latest of which is due to
expire Jan. 31. When he was installed as committee chair, Mica indicated that a
top priority would be a new and "long-overdue" FAA reauthorization.
But the Senate rejected a House FAA funding bill that would
have overturned a National Mediation Board rule allowing employees to form a
union by a simple majority vote and included what Mica called "modest"
cuts to the Essential Air Service program. "I kind of forced the issue
with one of the issues with language that the Senate didn't like to try to
motivate them," Mica told BTN
during an interview this month. "If I have to, I'll take whatever measures
we need to get it done. I would do the same thing all over again that we did
before just to move things forward."
As a result, the U.S. government in July lost its authority
to collect air ticket taxes (as much as $30 million each day, according to
various estimates) and FAA went partially dark, which meant suspended airport
construction projects and furloughed workers.
Two weeks later, Senate Democrats announced they had
accepted a temporary compromise to extend FAA funding. By mid-September,
Congress finalized the 22nd FAA reauthorization extension, which Mica said "must
be the last."
Mica also has emphasized high-speed rail development.
Throughout the year, he was among the loudest critics of the Obama
administration's plans and proposed some of his own. Mica argued for funding to
focus on the congested Northeast corridor by bringing in the private sector to
augment what he described as Amtrak's "Soviet-style" rail service. "Amtrak
can't do it themselves," he said. "They have a terrible 30-year plan
that requires $117 billion that Congress would never get for them. To get it
done, you need the private-sector to have a piece of the action."
In February, when Obama announced a rail plan that called
for $53 billion over six years, Mica said, "This is like giving Bernie
Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio." Under
pressure from House Republicans, Obama in April cut high-speed rail funding
from the fiscal 2011 budget.
In December, Mica convened committee meetings focused on
high-speed rail "that confirmed the Obama initiatives had basically
imploded," Mica said.
Mica also continued to hammer on TSA, demanding change. "Steam
is building in Congress for TSA reform," he told BTN. "I am a strong proponent of privatization of screening.
The United States is only one of a handful of countries now left that has an
all-federal screening operation. TSA needs to be reformed to be an
intelligence-gathering agency rather than running a behemoth federal screening
Chairman & CEO, Avis Budget Group
Avis Budget Group chairman and CEO Ronald Nelson made this
list last year for helping to thwart a major industry acquisition. He returns
this year after completing one.
Like Hertz, Avis in 2011 did not succeed in its bid to
acquire Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, but it did complete a $1 billion
takeover of Avis Europe, putting it on equal ground with its chief competitor
in terms of an ability to support global corporate programs. Completed in
October, the acquisition expanded Avis Budget's portfolio of branded rental
locations to about 175 countries.
Abrams Consulting Group president Neil Abrams said only
Hertz could boast similar global capabilities. Enterprise does not have a
significant presence outside of the United States, while Europcar controls the
National and Alamo brands in Europe. Neither Europcar nor Sixt, another major
European car rental supplier, has a big presence in the Americas.
"[Avis Budget] now has a global, seamless operation,
and it can control and mandate all aspects of its business worldwide,"
The acquisition also gave Avis a strong position for
developing in emerging markets, particularly India, China and other Asian
destinations, Abrams said. Avis Europe had controlled the brands not only in
Europe but in Africa and Asia as well.
"The reality is that Avis Europe, from a geographic
standpoint, controlled most of the world," Abrams said. "[Avis
Budget] now can have direct access and impact on the largest growing markets in
Administrator, U.S. Transportation
Since the 2002 birth of the Transportation Security
Administration, each change to U.S. airport security lane passenger-search
protocols before 2011 left travelers with a new hassle: requirements to remove
shoes, for example, or present little bottles of toiletries in a plastic bag.
For several thousand American Airlines and Delta Air Lines frequent flyers
willing to share some personal history, that changed in 2011 when TSA's new
PreCheck program allowed them to glide through metal detectors with their
shoes, belts and jackets on and their laptops and liquids bagged.
In launching PreCheck, which provides pre-screened frequent
travelers access to a dedicated security lane, TSA administrator John Pistole
not only deployed a program that required no congressional approval for funding
but also required American and Delta to pick up the tab for reconfiguring their
technology systems to accommodate new boarding pass barcodes used by
The idea behind PreCheck was developed shortly after TSA in
July 2010 appointed as administrator Pistole, a 27-year veteran of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. "It was framed by my experience as an FBI agent,
where for all those years I traveled on airlines, post-9/11 included, without
going through security," Pistole said. "I would go to the exit lane,
show my FBI credentials, and a law enforcement officer typically would check
that and I would fly armed. I realized distinctions were already being made
between those in the industry, intel, law enforcement and security communities
who were being recognized as being lower-risk."
Speed was a primary driver in developing what Pistole called
a "risk-based, intelligence-driven" system that differentiated
between pre-screened, low-risk frequent travelers and other passengers,
necessitating some trade-offs. "Some people have asked about biometrics,"
which is not included in PreCheck, Pistole said. "In an ideal world not
constrained by budget or time, absolutely, that would be a nice enhancement.
But when we looked at the cost and the time involved in putting it in place
initially, I didn't want perfect to be the enemy of good."
PreCheck launched in fall 2011 at four U.S. airports with
American and Delta, the first two carriers to agree to accommodate the pilot
program. "I talked with the CEOs of five major carriers," Pistole
said. "It came down to corporate interest, and they all did have interest,
and their individual situations. For example, United and Continental are going
through the merger, and their IT systems were configured in a way that did not
make sense to be on the front end. It came down to issues like that."
Other airlines, including United and US Airways, since have agreed to
Pistole by year-end hopes to expand the program to "dozens"
of U.S. airports.
Judge, Illinois Circuit Court
of Cook County
"Defendant American Airlines, Inc. is hereby ordered to
reinstate Orbitz Worldwide's ability to ticket American Airlines flights."
Issued June 1, 2011, that court order by Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County
Judge Lee Preston immediately ended the carrier's months-long absence from
Orbitz websites, including Orbitz for Business. The ordeal began in November
2010 when AA threatened to withdraw from Orbitz–a promise it delivered a month
later. That set off months of legal wrangling and marked a very public step
forward in AA's strategy to deploy a direct connection for travel distributors.
Preston also signed a December 2010 court decision denying
an injunction by Travelport that would have stopped AA from inhibiting
ticketing through Orbitz.
Only after Travelport challenged that earlier ruling did
Preston and the court conclude "that it had erred," according to
court documents. That reversal was a blow to AA, which had released ads
attacking Orbitz for not offering the carrier's fares.
Between the December 2010 and June 2011 orders, there was
much uncertainty for the airline, for Orbitz and for the Orbitz for Business
clients seeking to book AA tickets. Those clients had to pick up the telephone
to get their travelers onto AA flights. Or, perhaps they just booked away from
AA later noted that the injunction ordering the carrier to
reinstate Orbitz ticketing authority "terminated by its own terms on Sept.
1." However, the carrier last fall noted "a new interim agreement
with Travelport that provides for our continued participation in Orbitz, and we
do not expect that to change in the near term." Litigation, however,
Founder, Ruesink Consulting
If gamification in travel programs seemed like a wacky
concept in 2010—when it became known that Tom Ruesink's scorecard helped
Coca-Cola transform travel program compliance into a data-driven, friendly, fun
and successful competition among staffers—then in 2011 it took root as a
potentially transformative industry practice. Data consolidator Cornerstone
Information Systems in August announced it had approached Ruesink to use his
methods for its own corporate travel consulting practice, expanding beyond a
traditional strength in travel agency data reporting. Coke now is adopting this
model, which Cornerstone calls C3, as part of what appears to be just the
beginning of what Ruesink called an "overall gamification movement."
Cornerstone is "starting to get some good traction
there," said Ruesink, who quickly forged a partnership with the company
after realizing his husband-and-wife consulting duo lacked the scale to
effectively market the concept. Yet, Ruesink continues to ply his gamification
chops, and expects shortly to be certified as an expert in the subject by
Gamification Summit. He spoke at myriad industry events last year in an effort
to help managed travel professionals learn about a concept that is easy to
understand conceptually but hard to imagine practically if you're over 30.
Gamification brings gaming concepts to processes or services; in travel
management, this essentially means rewards for such good behavior as policy
compliance. What rewards? Gamification proponents say it can be as simple as a
badge or points in competition with peers.
But "gamification is a lot more than points and badges,"
Ruesink said. "The scoring was the foundation, but now it's moving toward
becoming a participative experience" in which travelers truly absorb the "compliance
"Travelers need to be involved in that story," he
said. "That's the missing element right now. Hoteliers and airlines have
gotten very good at ushering travelers into their systems and creating a
positive experience and compelling them to participate. But there has not yet
been a real movement toward telling the story that it's not necessarily about
you taking the hub carrier that will help drive the ability to negotiate down
the road, and that you're an important part of it of helping the corporation
move business. Everyone is focused on convenience, but it can't become 'the
traveler gets to do whatever they want.' "
Ruesink said he is in conversations now with a large travel
management company to make it more of a "plug-and-play experience,"
replete with per-transaction charges, and even has advised the U.S. federal
government on the concept.
"Existing tools have been set up with a mentality that
tries to 'catch the negatives' by forcing users to enter a reason why they didn't
take the lowest fare or sending out an email advising them of their wrongdoing,"
Ruesink wrote in a blog post on Gamification.co. He thinks gamification can
help address one of the top concerns for today's corporate leaders—how to
connect with new generations who seek frequent, positive reinforcement.
Meetings & Expense Strategy Associate Director, Kraft Foods
Leveraging Kraft Foods' substantial global travel volume
consolidated across 72 countries, including volume from its Cadbury
acquisition, global travel, meetings and expense strategy associate director
Madia Sargent has noticed a new supplier response, especially from airlines and
card firms. "We're on the map now where we weren't before," she said.
"Kraft was sort of an unknown travel program until we were able to prove
Armed with "incredible visibility to data,"
Sargent said, "we've learned what we can consolidate globally in terms of
data and what we can't. We've learned how to leverage the high-level
information and not get into the minutiae."
A proponent of the travel management department reporting to
information technology, as at Kraft, Sargent last year shared the benefits at
various industry forums. "Information systems understands and supports
innovation and technology," she said.
During the past decade, the reporting structure for travel
management around the industry has shifted from human resources and legal to
procurement and other areas, she noted. "I hope there is a shift [to technology]
because the difference is amazing. They actually care about innovating with
social media and technology; they're driving me to do it," Sargent said,
noting that her boss reports to Kraft's chief information officer. "If I
was finance or procurement, they're not interested in spending money. You'd
have to build a business case each time you wanted to do any" social media
or data integration projects.
"If you're a travel manager who doesn't have a
background in technology, you're at a disadvantage," she added. "I'm
constantly reading up and trying to stay ahead on what's going on in
technology. It's not about the agents and how they service anymore."
Suppliers have responded to the unique reporting structure
to "make us the guinea pig for stuff they're working on" for other
Challenged to provide a "duty-of-care nirvana"
outlined by Kraft's security and travel executives, BCD Travel delivered a
solution that relies on central reservation feeds to security firm
International SOS and policies and messaging to "stop reservations or take
action based on the security level in a country." On the back end, the
solution allows Kraft to text-message instructions to travelers within an hour
of any incident. Kraft extensively tested the solution last year during Japan's
earthquake and tsunami and other incidents, Sargent said.
At the request of sales executives who typically don't use
computers in the field, expense provider Concur is developing a phone-based
expense entry system, she said.
Senior Vice President
of Global Sales, Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines last fall for the first time secured the top
overall ranking in the Business Travel
News Annual Airline Survey, setting a new pace for carriers vying for U.S.
Recently promoted to senior vice president of global sales,
Steve Sear during the past few years has overseen the Delta sales organization.
He has led efforts to fully consolidate corporate contracts with joint venture
partners, ease the transition for clients following the Delta-Northwest merger
(deemed a success by many corporate buyers) and, more recently, spearhead new
reporting for accounts.
Several buyers have heaped praise on Delta's Sky Partner
Review reports, launched last summer, which they say provide more details than
reports offered by competing carriers. The reports show client savings and
spending beyond core airfares by quantifying the dollar values of frequent
flyer upgrades, waived bag fees and elite status designations. They also detail
the passenger experience, including the percentage of trips without
baggage-handling complaints and the number of delays and cancellations that
disrupted an organization's travelers. Delta also reports the total number of
bags checked by an account's travelers and the percentage transported with and
without fees, giving buyers new insight into that elusive spend category.
"Our team is listening and partnering with our
corporate customers, and they are in turn providing very constructive feedback
on how we can enhance and develop programs that are really targeted at the
corporate travelers," Sear said.
Meanwhile, Delta and transatlantic joint venture partners
Air France and KLM by the start of 2011 converted 5,000 transatlantic contracts
from single-carrier agreements to joint deals, well ahead of competing joint
ventures anchored in the United States by American Airlines and United
Delta's path foreshadowed those of its competitors. United
continues to integrate Continental after their merger, and executives there
have not been shy about acknowledging lessons learned from Delta. At bankrupt
American, sales executives are pursuing joint corporate and agency deals with
British Airways and Iberia, intending to offer corporations the same types of
benefits already enjoyed by Delta's transatlantic accounts.
Under Sear, Delta's corporate sales initiatives in the past
year also included more staffing and training in the sales support center and
more empowerment for sales managers to collaborate with clients.
Meanwhile, Delta also has invested in product enhancements,
both on the ground and aboard planes. As examples, the airline in the past year
launched a premium-economy product on some international flights, rolled out
more flat-bed seats in long-haul markets and expanded first-class seating and
added Wi-Fi on regional aircraft. Its entire mainline domestic fleet already is
equipped with inflight Internet access, a first among the largest U.S.
Chairman & CEO, Concur
Concur chairman and CEO Steve Singh early last year secured
his eighth appearance on this list when his company acquired TripIt for cash
and stock worth $86.8 million, according to the latest financial filings.
Although the acquisition forced Concur to report a loss for 2011, Singh said, "We
never do acquisitions where it's all about the next year. We say how can we
accelerate our business or the company over the next decade."
TripIt is "a huge part" of Concur's growth plans,
he said. "If I look at the next three to five years, the collection of
changes you'll see happen in corporate travel will probably be defined by
mobile, local, social and personalization. What I love about what we were able
to accomplish in the past year is to make investments well in advance of where
our industry is, but in line with where our customers are starting to take
At year-end, Singh estimated that "four of 16"
Concur users used its mobile technologies. The company has about 15 million users
of travel, expense or other services and about 4 million TripIt users. "There's
crossover of some of that," he said, but TripIt's real value lies in "getting
new users. It's expanding our addressable market. It was a foray into unmanaged
Concur in June made its second acquisition of 2011, paying
£12 million for London-based expense management provider GlobalExpense. Concur
also invested $40 million for a 20 percent stake in ClearTrip Inc., an online
travel service provider in India, and $5.3 million for a 37 percent stake in
Yapta. Late last year, Concur also launched a new version called Concurforce
for Salesforce customers. Singh said Concur Breeze, introduced in 2010 for
companies with 75 or fewer employees, is a "phenomenal success. This year
has been fantastic for us and we think next year will be stronger."
STR in late 2010 bid adieu to the term "midprice
with food and beverage." The industry quickly followed suit.
Data firm STR largely is responsible for the tier
classifications travel industry professionals use to view hotels. In December
2010, when the firm announced that it was scuttling the "midprice with
food and beverage" and "midprice without food and beverage"
tiers in favor of the more succinct "upper midscale" and "midscale"
tiers, it marked the first time in about a decade STR tweaked its tier
"It's an extremely difficult process," said STR
Global chairman and co-founder Randy Smith. "You would think it was
straightforward, as you have data on all the chains and could rank them from
high to low. But not all brands are distributed evenly—some might be more
urban-oriented or located in a specific region. You also have to consider the
perception of the brands."
Part of the changing nomenclature stemmed from evolving
hotel models. For example, few new midprice hotels feature a full restaurant
and instead offer grab-and-go or part-time eating areas. Smith said Best
Western's decision to split its properties into three categories also helped
enable the change. STR now can divvy up Best Western across both midscale
tiers, whereas before the massive chain fell entirely within one tier, skewing
the data, he said.
Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn and Best
Western's Plus and Premier categories now sit in the upper midscale tier, while
La Quinta, Ramada and regular Best Western hotels are in the midscale tier. A
few hotels remain unhappy about their classification, which Smith said the firm
is addressing this year.
Jeroen van Hek
Manager for T&E, ING
Procurement in late 2011 published a profile of Jeroen van Hek, editors at
The BTN Group joked about running it beneath the headline "Van Hek of a
Travel Manager." It's something his peers in the Netherlands already know
about the travel chief of banking group ING. Members of Cortas, a group of 25
leading Dutch travel managers, have adopted a set of standardized definitions
van Hek devised to help them benchmark with much greater consistency.
Among the terms van Hek has defined are "cost saving,"
"cost avoidance" and "cost reduction." According to Cortas
chairman Herman Mensink, "If we have true definition of a concept such as
cost savings, then we can define things like missed savings. We found members
had different definitions, which made a proper benchmark impossible but now we
are all singing from the same hymnbook."
Mensink added that the new definitions have provided much
food for thought. "Lower spend does not necessarily amount to a saving,"
he said. "For example, is cross-ticketing by your travel management
company a saving? It makes us much more transparent."
Although all Cortas members are reaping the benefit, van Hek
started the project to improve the credibility of his reporting to ING chief
financial and procurement officers. While other travel managers have debated
and rejected as impractical the notion of measuring return on investment in
travel, van Hek pursued a different calculation: the ROI of travel management.
To achieve this, he measures total cost of ownership (such as staff costs and
TMC fees) and the savings produced by those resources.
Measuring savings meant first setting fare benchmarks,
something established through another ground-breaking project. According to
Mensink, van Hek created the first truly global corporate deal with SkyTeam,
guaranteeing a discount on every route with every member carrier. It took some
gunboat diplomacy to secure it. "I had to show SkyTeam I had the ability to
steer business away when the relationship was not bringing us what we were
expecting," van Hek recalled.
Van Hek became a buyer with ING in 2006 and started building
the company's first global program. That mission continues as he is putting
considerable focus on tackling ING's meetings spend, which he believes will
prove even larger than its transient travel spend. BCD Travel manages travel on
behalf of ING in 35 countries, and now van Hek is outsourcing meetings to the
same intermediary. He also is keen to extend the benchmarking project to "involve
travel managers internationally and bring in CPOs as well."
President, Prism Group
Since its release in 2000, Prism's SalesServer, through
which corporate clients share agency booking data so airlines can assess
discount programs and monitor account performance, has defined how airlines
deal with corporations.
A dozen years on and adoption among the world's airlines has
not slowed. In fact, with the maturation of airline joint ventures, Prism's
systems are playing as big a role as ever in helping to standardize airline
"We've tripled our account base since 2007," Prism
president Michael Whitesage said this month, claiming 36 airlines or alliances
now use the company's system to structure and analyze negotiated agreements. "What's
remarkable is we really only have six U.S. carriers. We're very much a global
system that has automated best practices for travel management and contracting."
Most of Prism's recent growth has come outside of the United
States. In the past year, the company signed deals with All Nippon Airways,
Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Iberia, Korean Air and longtime holdout British
Airways, according to vice president Les Baker.
With each new airline customer, Prism spreads not just the
use of its proprietary software, but also the marketshare-based contracting
model airlines increasingly favor.
Prism's global ambitions became more evident with the
release last year of its Sales Information Server, the firm's next-generation,
web-based system, which will replace the pre-existing server-based system while
adding multilingual capabilities and other functionality targeted at
international airlines. The new tool speeds the contracting process and enable
airlines to tap into unprecedented levels of data, Whitesage said. It also can
report data in local currencies and account for other regional
preferences—kilometers or miles, for example.
Prism identified Russia's Aeroflot and Japan Airlines as
early adopters, with the remainder of its client base expected to transition
during the coming year-and-a-half.
Prism last year also inked a deal with transaction
processing and settlement firm ARC to allow airlines to manage agency
agreements much like they manage corporate contracts.
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