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Terry Jones, founder and former CEO of Travelocity.com and
CIO of Sabre, current chairman of Kayak.com and board member of Rearden
Commerce, along with Rearden vice president of worldwide sales Tony D'Astolfo
met with BTN's David Meyer during the
National Business Travel Association's recent international convention in
Houston to talk about developments at Rearden and travel management technology.
Business Travel News:
Please tell me about all of the hats you wear.
Terry Jones: I'm
chairman of Kayak, I'm on another board called Smart Destinations, which is all
about local travel, and I still do a lot of consulting. I've been on the
Rearden board for more than five years. It's been very exciting to watch the
development of this company. At Rearden, we continue to add breadth, with
dining, shipping and black car. Travel managers aren't early adopters
generally, but they're looking at this and saying, "I can save the
corporation money. I can make my travelers more productive," and that's
exciting to see.
With Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Travelport, American Express
and Chase, we have an engine with critical mass. We've been talking about the
long tail forever, and it has always been an elusive tail. Now, we have
suppliers saying, "We want to play. We want to be in it." Once you
get that big wheel turning, exciting things start to happen.
The technology was pretty clunky when I first saw it, but
all the corporate booking tools were clunky. What's been really interesting to
watch is the consumerization of the business travel products. The consumer
tools were kind of flashy and good. Now, business travel tools really do have
the bang that the consumer travel tools have, plus they have the policy
compliance. Instead of forcing people in, they are being attracted to it, and
that is a very big change.
BTN: Is there a
way to bring what Kayak has into the Rearden tool?
Jones: I think
the Rearden guys actually may have been inspired a little bit by Kayak. We see
some of the filtering, and a lot of people are copying the Kayak user
interface. That's good, and it means we have to keep pushing Kayak. We've got
about 3 million downloads of the mobile app already. We're learning a lot. We
thought people would use it for the next flight out or changing their hotel,
but they are using it just like the desktop. They're looking at stuff two weeks
out. We never thought that would happen. That kind of usage, given the fact
that corporate travelers have more smartphones than anybody, I think is going
to just explode. Continental Airlines has their boarding pass application, and
[InterContinental Hotels Group] is coming out with the ability to open your
hotel room with your smartphone, and Homewood Suites is enabling you to search for
the room that you want.
Continental started the whole thing with the boarding pass
scanning because they said they wanted to push up self-printing, but then they
realized nobody was doing it coming home. That's why we wanted to do the mobile
app: People are in hotels or convention centers and can't print. That's a
different way to think about mobile, about what people can't do when they don't
have their desktop and printer available.
I think business tools will continue to be inspired by the
retail tools. I also think you are going to see, as we are doing at Rearden,
how people are going to keep up with unbundling of airline pricing.
One large buyer has a done a tremendous amount of data sourcing. She's broken
it up by, here's all my frequent flyers, here's where they don't pay, here's
where the other guys do pay. It's a big number. When you look at a big firm, it's
a big number in aggregate, even if it's less than 10 percent of the cost. It's
a real opportunity to cause some angst or solve a big problem. We're trying to
figure out where this will go.
Jones: At the
Gogo [Inflight Internet] booth, they were doing a survey to see how many people
would pay to have Wi-Fi on board. As the airlines look at fee unbundling and
more feature sets, travelers care more than their companies about that. The
carriers continue to lose their ability to differentiate, so how do they talk
about it and how do we display it? We've talked for years about an ad model,
because most Internet companies run on an ad model, but corporations don't want
ads. There's an intersection of policy and preference and what the supplier
wants versus what the corporation wants versus what the traveler wants. The
traveler is getting continually more discriminating about what room they're in,
what seat they're in and what their status is. That presents some fun
challenges for us as things become more complex, and there are more products
when you add limo and dining. Location-based advertising is beginning to
If corporate apps don't keep up, the traveler will use
consumer apps anyway. There's nothing to stop them. There are a few
corporations run like the military where everything is mandated, but not a lot,
so mobile is going to have to keep up.
think it's core. We think it's going to be more prevalent and more important in
the overall decision-making process. We've been promoting that companies have
to have a mobile strategy.
devices today have as much storage as a storage device when I ran Sabre that
was six feet tall, three feet wide and eight feet long—that's how big a
30-gigabyte drive was, and it cost $4 million. They have more processing power
than 100 PCs, and they have video. How those things will be integrated will be
so interesting. For the app that opens the hotel room, I said, how did you get
that to work, using Wi-Fi? They said no, it just plays a very high-pitched
Also coming is a payment device that allows you to transfer
money by bumping your phone. With ZipCar, you can open and start the car with
your iPhone. What is that going to do to travel? I think that's going to be the
next jump, because business travelers all have mobile devices that they are
going to want to use to make their lives easier—check in easier, move through the
line faster, pay my fees up front and do all that stuff that lets me relax. I
think that's going to drive more innovation than just the desktop's next
When we started with Travelocity and went public, nobody
thought travel would be the app that it is. But the velocity of change, the
fact that it needs to be visually displayed and that you don't always buy the
same thing makes it the perfect app. That's why people have been so attracted
to it. It's so complex, and they don't do the same thing over and over.
This report appears in
the Nov. 8 issue of Business Travel News.