Smaller companies are not often blessed with large internal travel teams. The SME market, therefore, relies heavily on travel management companies (TMCs) for support and guidance. Martin Ferguson speaks to travel managers who spend less than £2 million annually on travel – and puts their questions to the TMCs
"From a distance, or without the right insight, TMC technology and processes could be regarded as similar across the supplier marketplace. But on closer inspection one will find that TMCs employ different types of people, possess differing corporate and cultural values, and have diverse standards in terms of quality of service. In any case, the customer has to choose a TMC that fits with their own organisational culture, while at the same time being very clear on their objectives, so work can be carried out effectively." This may be something to consider for personal service that is a fit.
As we look forward to trudging 30-40 miles around CES (we walked 37.5 miles at CES 2012 according to the Fitbit I was carrying), we've been turning out the bag of travelling technology to see what we can leave behind and what we need to add from recent products we've examined. What you need on the road these days has changed: storage is out, connectivity and power is in. We haven't travelled with a portable DVD drive in a few years because there's so little software we need to install that way, and we've replaced most UK-to-US travel adapters with US power leads, for example. And the Fitbit I was using last year has been replaced by the smaller Fitbit One .
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GTI Travel is a privately owned and operated Travel Agency focused on Business Travel. GTI Travel is one of the many members of Travel Leaders. Economies of scale and access to industry information are just a couple benefits you will enjoy when you work with us.
IT innovation, global medicine and frustrated medical patients drive the demand for medical travel. But telemedicine also improves patient care and the customer experience of medical travelers. Once again, we welcome medical IT entrepreneur, Agha Ahmed, Managing Partner of GHIMBA, as we explore how IT innovations help patients get high-quality healthcare outside of the USA.
How do IT innovations help provide services that medical travelers can benefit from?
IT helps deliver safe medical care and a pleasant trip to facilities overseas. For more than 20 years, IT innovations have improved patient care worldwide. Now, these innovations are helping medical travelers, too.
In telemedicine and m-health, telecommunications, mobile devices and information technologies provide clinical health care at a distance. (M-health is the practice of using mobile technology in healthcare.) There are three important devices and software capabilities that help deliver the promise of medical travel:
First, there are electronic media records. With an EMR system, it’s easy to gather patient clinical notes, diagnostic scans, medical administrator records, and discharge summaries in digital form. By automating and streamlining clinical workflow, IT cuts the time and effort needed to maintain information and create the data trail needed for medical audits and QA procedures.
Then, there are smartphones. Our familiar hand-held computers are becoming an important enabler in the cloud-based healthcare infrastructure. An EMR system deployed in the cloud can make a smartphone a virtual healthcare wallet. Patients can access their medical records from a smartphone and share the information with overseas healthcare providers.
Finally, data mining and analytics. Data mining and analytics technologies combine, prepare and search massive data stores gathered from many sources. Combined with analytics software, a cloud-based EMR system provides easy access to the knowledge and insight that overseas doctors can use to identify medical problems. And, patients can learn about cost-effective treatment for specific diseases and conditions without leaving home.
These innovations work with participants in the medical travel industry to deliver value to patients and business opportunities to entrepreneurs.
What’s the most important thing that IT provides patients and entrepreneurs?
Powerful data sharing and analysis, anywhere in the world. Cloud computing and modern IT devices make it easy to transfer, analyze and share massive amounts of medical data, quickly and safely. IT contributes medical services that patients and overseas healthcare providers can be confident in. There are three notable capabilities.
IT makes comprehensive medical information accessible. All patient-related data is stored in a single, authoritative source in a cloud computing center. Centralized data management makes it easier for qualified medical travel solution providers to identify gaps in information and synchronize the data and people involved at each step in patient care.
IT helps patients get the best care available. By hosting medical records, cloud computing centers become part of an ecosystem, which includes globally accredited hospitals and clinics. Healthcare providers anywhere in the world get easy access to medical information before patients arrive. Or, patients can use their smartphones to download information when they arrive. When highly qualified practitioners analyze and share medical information, patients benefit.
IT provides patients with a smoother, more pleasant trip. Internet data searches and medical travel solution facilitators reduce the time, effort and worry of finding, traveling to and engaging medical facilities overseas.
Cloud computing and other IT innovations can help make offshore treatment a safe, cost-effective alternatives to U.S. healthcare. These innovations can be used with medical travel facilitators and solution providers to deliver world-class medical services.
Where can we find out more about IT and medical travel?
Telemedicine is a major topic in an upcoming conference, the Medical Travel and Global Healthcare Business Summit in Tampa, Florida. If you’re wondering about medical travel business opportunities, you’ll want to check out the conference, which will be held on June 14th through 17th. The summit is designed for healthcare and wellness providers, IT services business leaders, and hospital and clinic administrators.
The conference discusses business and technical aspects of medical travel, including how IT, telemedicine and m-health support travel logistics and patient care. The emphasis is on finding and making the most of the many business opportunities available to entrepreneurs and healthcare industry professionals.
As we reach the middle of the 21st century, half the population of the world will lose their job to a machine. Yes, this is another 'robots will take our jobs ' story.
The latest comes from Moshe Vardi, professor at Rice University , Houston, who delivered a talk to the American Association for the Advancement of Science , exploring the question: "If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?"
Future belongs to the machines Vardi reckons that half of workers across the globe will be replaced by machines within the next 30 years, wiping out middle-class jobs and "exacerbating inequality". He noted that robots would take over in many spheres of life, including automated driving and sex robots. As the Guardian reports, he also observed that this future is likely to mean humans have much more leisure time — indeed we may only work a handful of hours per week....
I have recently heard of robots helping with business travel. I still think that our travel consultants know the people they are helping. The agents have unique personalities and intuitive ways that I do not think a robot will duplicate. Robots will have their roles but will not replace the human touch.
The consumer is unaware of how many booking brands are actually owned by larger OTAs, says the AH&LA. A full 75% of all third parties roll into Expedia, and 20% into Priceline.
Michael Kabo's insight:
An interesting article. Impossible to gauge the accuracy of the statistics. The fraud amount of Online Travel amounts are staggering. There are an estimated 15 million fraudulent bookings a year,” Lugar said, “often with travelers showing up at a hotel only to find they have no reservations. It amounts to $1.3 billion in those kinds of bookings. Congress is considering further reviews.
‘This study dispels the myth that booking direct with suppliers or spending hours online yourself gets you a better deal, or gives you a happier travel experience,’ said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.
Richard Stern's insight:
Data to support the value of using a professional travel agency instead of trying to do it yourself. You may want to take a look at your approach.
Despite the many miserable prognoses for the future of the media business, a few stubborn entrepreneurs still see fit to venture into content-driven companies. Among the crop of new players in media is Skift, a 10-month-old travel publication that merges content with data services while targeting a crossover audience of business readers and consumers.
Skift, which is already among the top three or four online travel industry trade publications in a space that has lagged behind the times, today announced that it has raised an additional $1.1 million in seed funding, adding Advancit Capital, Ironfire Angel, Mesa+ and others to an investment roster headed up by New York’s Lerer Ventures. (Disclosure: Lerer Ventures is also an investor in PandoDaily.) The round brings Skift’s total funding to $1.5 million.
Skift was brought into the world by Rafat Ali, who founded paidContent in 2002 as one of the first blog media companies. He later sold paidContent to Guardian Media, which subsequently sold the blog to GigaOm in 2012. After a couple years’ respite since selling paidContent, Ali saw an opportunity in travel, the world’s biggest industry, noticing that the publications that covered the industry had not been subjected to the same waves of disruption that, say, the tech and finance media had.
Social and mobile, for instance, were still largely foreign concepts among travel industry publications, which include TTG, Travel Weekly, and Business Traveller, all of which are freighted with legacy baggage from their print magazine backgrounds....
Research has shown that, in many organisations, Travel expenditure is one of the top 3 items in controllable expense. This means that, particularly at times of business activity downturn, travel expenses can be one of the first areas to be cut back.
This Insight provides food for thought for management as to how Travel expenditure may be monitored and controlled throughout the business cycle. We at Gapeseed consulting believe that the aim should be to provide value, rather than just cut cost. As an example, rather than move from Business Class on air tickets to Economy as a first step, shrewd negotiation can reduce the Business Class fares, through discounts taken at point of sale. However, the ‘Best Fare on the Day’ (such as. the lowest fare made available by an airline for the day of travel) approach may be beneficial. If that isn’t felt to be sufficient, then the move to Economy may be inevitable, still using ‘Best Fare on the Day’. However, do define what is meant by Economy! If looking at the total cost of travel (100%), the cost of the Travel Management Company (TMC) is around 5%, the internal process costs (authorisation, booking, payment and so on) around 3% - that leaves 92%, the cost of the air tickets, the room charges and so on. This is the area of maximum opportunity to save cost, whilst obtaining value.
The experienced and well trained travel consultants provide cost effective and "value for money" travel solutions by making use of their on line and offline technological tools, business insights and consulting experience in the business travel industry.
Gapeseed organizes group participations at international and national congresses, exhibitions and meetings (MICE) worldwide. The company implements all services involved in the delegate participation, from hotel accommodation and travel services to transportation, cultural program etc.
Additionally, Gapeseed has a very wide network of suppliers and partners on a worldwide scale which allows its experts to offer immediate solutions at any destination as well as achieve best possible rates through their negotiation practices.
Some of the key things to remember for controlling your travel cost
Why have one? It is vitally important that companies improve value from money spent on travel and a travel policy is the cornerstone on which good procurement can achieve that objective. It has been said that a well-documented, well-implemented, well-monitored policy can reduce travel costs by at least 10% and by up to 30%. Experience has shown that travel suppliers will tend to give their best deals to those companies who can demonstrate an ‘effective’ Travel Policy.
Who should write your travel policy?
Travel Policy should be written by the person who is responsible for the procurement of travel within the organisation or an experienced Corporate travel planner organization should be comsulted to draft one based on your organization culture and need.
It should be
Keep it simple
Making it happen is the toughest part. An organisation can have the best travel policy on paper but its usefulness is only as strong as the traveller’s awareness of it.
Supplier negotiation – skills required Generally, it is fair to say that the fewer suppliers the better and that well-developed buying functions spend little time on administration and clerical functions but more on negotiating long-term relationships, developing suppliers, concentrating on total acquisition cost reduction, adding value and developing partnerships – very much mutual v. transactional relationships.
communication - written and verbal
Identifying, agreeing and pursuing objectives
having a good script and environment
assessing the other party’s position (information is power)
bargaining concessions for advantages
wanting to reach agreement
agreeing agenda and rules
making sure the correct people are negotiating
identifying issues and problem areas
trying to resolve easier differences first
bargaining firmly on serious differences, encouraging concessions
giving way on low priority items to gain high priority matters
Effective use of silence
suggesting ways of meeting your needs at low cost to the other party
looking for signals of readiness to concede
confirming agreements as they are reached
Summarising the results of the negotiation. In travel, the buyer needs to have the correct management information to back up their negotiation and preferably some benchmarking to set the parameters for the range which they negotiate. Management
Make sure your Corporate Travel Management company
pays careful attention to your travel management brief
are flexible in their recommendations; independent and supported by competitive rates both locally and globally
present a proposal in consultation with you and focus on achieving a positive return on investment
believes that they offer the market's leading Service Level Agreement through
partner with the best corporate travel technology companies with guaranteed research and ongoing investment
partner with Travel Risk Management experts to ensure compliance to the National Health & Safety legislation
regularly discuss and review working relationship with you via a pro-active and dedicated account manager
Evolve your travel program with your business and the market place to drive corporate travel savings.
The business travel market has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years and will continue to do so. The procurement specialists, who have appeared more and more to be deciding strategy, will need to keep abreast of these changes. There is more emphasis on end to end process solutions from travel booking services, expense claims and payments. The challenge is in implementing the most cost and time effective solution for your organisation.
Business Travel is different than personal travel. Many companies can provide Travel Management but the real difference is the people that work for these companies. You will do well with skilled consultants that know your company and provide a personal approach. GTI Travel has a high customer retention rate because our customers get this approach along with ability to cut costs and give value.
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