< PrevNext > Suzanne Boyan, ZS Associates Travel Operations Manager Game Changer By Adam Perrotta / December 13, 2019 / Contact Reporter Share "We just didn't find value in the GDS model of booking travel," said ZS Associates travel operations manager Suzanne Boyan, explaining the rationale behind her bold experiment to shift her company's program toward a model that eschews the travel management company and global distribution system paradigm in favor of direct connections with suppliers, bolstered by third-party specialists—all tied together by data aggregation from Traxo. The program employs a direct connection with United, undergirded by the airline's integration with Traxo, which funnels back to ZS all bookings the company's travelers make directly with the airline. Hotel booking is completely unrestricted in most cases, with Traxo capturing booking data via email confirmations using its Traxo Filter email-parsing tool. To fulfill other travel and support services functions without involving a TMC, ZS contracted a lineup of tightly focused "microservice" providers, including Freebird for flight disruption management and rebooking, Tripbam for hotel rate reshopping. International SOS provides duty of care. Integration service Traxo Marketplace transmits travel data directly to those providers, and it's all tied together by ZS's in-house travel dashboard, which serves as a control center for tracking data.After a small pilot in 2018, ZS rolled out the program steadily this year and changed her TMC relationship from a global player to a boutique agency willing to innovate within ZS's new model. The ultimate goal is to shift 50 percent of air and hotel booking volume to direct channels rather than a TMC. Boyan's project fundamentally is transforming travel for ZS, a consulting and professional services firm with nearly 7,000 employees and global operations. But it also could serve as a proof of concept for a new managed travel model, one in which corporate travel managers can use direct supplier connections and third-party service providers to tailor travel programs to their organizations' unique needs. That approach could help redefine how corporations buy travel—and push TMCs to adapt to remain relevant."At the end of the day," Boyan said, "the biggest benefit is that if we can move the travel industry forward … we're going to have access to even more technology, and that alone could be well worth the risk."The risk has paid off for ZS—and for Boyan, who was named BTN's 2019 Travel Manager of the Year.