< PrevNext > Disruption Management Becomes the Core of Travel Management – Here’s Why By Katie Virtue, Client Solutions Lead, Festive Road / January 23, 2023 Share Katie Virtue, Client Solutions Lead, Festive Road Disruption is a word that can have positive or negative meaning. On the positive side, it can be associated with transformation and a change for the better. On the negative side, it can mean impacted strategies and plans. I believe disruption will play a critical role in business travel in 2023. The question is, will it be positive or negative? Let’s see what you think at the end.Our industry has certainly dealt with disruptions in the past, but in 2023 I am seeing signs and hearing from senior buyers that disruption will solidify its place as a core component of travel management versus acting as an outlier which occasionally affects our strategies and plans. Forbes stated in their Travel Trends for 2023 that the New Normal is No Normal with travelers doing the unexpected. Eurocontrol is warning of potentially “huge challenges” to the continued recovery of air travel with 2023 set to be the most challenging year of the last decade. China has started to open and with Asia already dealing with full capacities it will likely cause a demand bottle-neck within the region, price increases and we’ve already seen instant reactions from countries implementing new travel requirements. Whether it’s supply chain and service issues and the related ongoing talent shortage, disrupted distribution channels, heightened geopolitical conditions or the increasingly unpredictable impact of climate change on travel plans, managing travel won’t be steady in 2023 and the industry must adapt to create agile, flexible and real-time solutions. Returning to the relative steady, pre-pandemic practices would mean a constant state of reaction and a great deal of time spent cleaning up disruption issues. So, what does travel management strategy evolution look like in the face of disruption? Here are 5 changes I see taking place in 2023.Strategy review gets more frequent – Travel Risk Management has been well developed to handle weather, political and other crises with processes and technology in place. The pandemic introduced us to a world where borders could close immediately and entry restrictions could significantly affect travel plans. This laid the groundwork for both buyers and suppliers to more effectively manage disruptions. But the issues are compounding and the environment is unpredictable which means they need better monitoring. Even internally, companies are looking to provide more flexibility to employees. This impacts who needs to travel, when and where. Sustainability goals continue to progress and budget decisions face a weighting of cost containment versus experience. In response to macroeconomic trends and shifting company strategies, buyers will review their program strategies on a more continuous basis—not on a 3- to 5-year basis—to ensure it flexes. Buyers will also utilize scenario planning and what-if exercises to account for trends and will involve more stakeholders to understand how different departments are changing. Dynamic operations – The word “dynamic” will describe more parts of a travel program in 2023. Dynamic policies, dynamic contracts, dynamic tools. Essentially, it’s the realization that we can’t let things sit on a shelf because they need to adapt to disruption.A dynamic policy proactively considers different situations that a traveler may face and establishes elements to support those situations. A delay over a certain amount of time might, for example, may warrant a lounge pass. New products introduced by an airline could shift a policy overnight, or policy will apply to different people in different ways, or in different circumstances. Contracts will not just utilize historical trend data to anticipate volume, but will have levers that are based on real-time and predictive travel patterns. Flexible terms will take precedence with desire for ease of changes during a trip.Buyers will take a more microscopic view of the end-to-end travel journey to understand solutions that can prevent and ease disruption. A fast-track security pass at the airport could be offered if you are alerted that wait times are long and a flight could be missed. Supplier sourcing and management changes – Strategies and operations that change more frequently will mean new expectations for supplier partners. From a strategic level, buyers will want to understand how key suppliers plan to adapt and manage for disruptions. Product strategies and technology roadmaps will be assessed with a mindset of disruption as they can exacerbate the problems or offer solutions depending on how they are deployed. Buyers will want confidence that technology and systems have capability, capability and flexibility to handle different situations.Supplier resource training will be scrutinized to determine how service in disruptive situations will be delivered. Problem solving, empathy and communication skills are needed from those interacting with travelers.Predictive analytics, API connectivity and real-time solutions – Execution of dynamic travel management will be reliant on data and technology enablers to inform the future and proactively address disruption. Past behavior and trends aren’t enough to predict the future, especially with travelers doing the unexpected. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will be utilized to tell us how likely disruption will occur giving us information to make informed decisions. For example, when booking a flight, what is the on-time performance overlaid with typical weather and any major events planned in that city for that day.APIs, open platforms and blockchain will enable connectivity and solutions for cross-supplier disruption management versus what historically has been a fragmented trip that causes more challenges.Buyers will look to use tools that allow them to communicate and take action in real time, not just relying on post-trip survey data to get a pulse of program performance. They will take hold of providing the right message, in the right channel, at the right time.Purpose Defines Action – And this brings me to one of the most important changes we must make to ensure the industry evolves and does not allow disruption consume us. We need to determine why people travel for their role, company and personal career needs, rather than just looking at how people get from point A to point B. A defined purpose is a guide to decisionmaking through disruption. More purposeful travel should equal more valuable travel and consequently disruptions can have more costly implications to that value.This aligns to an increased focus on traveler experience and setting strategies and making decisions based on the desired experience while knowing how disruptions should be handled. Buyers will look to showcase the value of travel in their organizations and in turn get more support and buy-in for proposed actions to mitigate disruption impact. This brings us back to the meaning of disruption for business travel in 2023. Will we evolve as an industry, using disruption to transform? Or will the opposite happen and disruption remains a consistent challenge we are firefighting to manage? I believe we have the opportunity to use disruption in a positive way, taking control to be proactive and letting it spark ideas on how we become more flexible. Let’s challenge the status quo.