Presentations from Illuminate 2018.
Highlighting the latest trends from across the travel and technology industry, Illuminate 2018, provided a comprehensive overview of what’s ahead for the corporate travel sector.
The event proved to be a valuable event for education, information and networking with more than 400 people registered for the day and a total of 19 speakers on stage through the various sessions.
The audience consisted of travel and procurement professionals from large corporates, academic, government, entertainment and sports clients through to a diverse range of smaller Australian business representatives.
Guests walked away from the event having heard the latest trends in automation and artificial intelligence in travel technologies, safety and security measures to new distribution capability.
One of the highlights of the event was the launch of the revolutionary online booking tool, Savi, which is an exclusive product to the corporate customers of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
James Kavanagh, General Manager of Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate division walked guests through the unique modules of the product, specifically designed for the needs of travellers, travel bookers and decision makers.
Drawing on the very latest in artificial intelligence Savi provides a highly customised and personalised experience for your travellers,” James said during the product launch session. “Meanwhile the Savi Select module has been designed to create efficiencies and streamline the booking process for your bookers and travellers.
Guests also heard views from a client and supplier panel. Illuminate’s client panel this year focused on issues around travel policies, approval processes and strategies that had strengthened each customer’s travel program. Meanwhile the supplier panel talked to distribution channels and personalisation of the travel experience.
Hosted at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, Illuminate 2018 set a new standard for corporate travel events in Australia, with almost 30 supplier booths set up in the exhibition hall.
For all the latest please view the presentations from the day:
Head of Uber for Business, Georgia Foster believes a strong company culture is a vital part of a company’s ideology. Georgia is one of the presenters at the upcoming Illuminate event in Melbourne. She has lead sales, product and marketing teams across Australia, New Zealand, the US and Latin America, including working for innovative global organisations like LinkedIn and Uber.
“Company culture is not just about providing stimulating workspaces and employee benefits,” Georgia said.
“Although in the Uber offices, we do offer things like yoga, mindfulness classes, gym and health insurance subsidies. A big part of our company culture is about fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Georgia makes a valid point given that the candidate pool is so large and the ability so high when it comes to jobs in Silicon-Valley-type organisations.
“Uber for Business prides itself on a company-wide culture of encouraging innovation, autonomy and customer obsession, and that mantra is reflected in the types of people they look for to join the team.
“I think back to that moment in the career’s hall at my school when there were four careers profiled - a doctor, a lawyer, an architect and an accountant. Although I did complete an architecture degree, I ended up following my strengths, which were in the areas of sales, marketing and using my entrepreneurial mindset. These days employees have such a vast array of career opportunities. They can choose careers based on what their skill sets are, not what career box they might fit into. Tech and Silicon Valley companies barely existed back then and now they’re some of the most exciting careers out there.”
She also points out the uniqueness of working for organisations that are, although monumentally successful, still newer businesses, with a fluidity of structure and process not found in more traditional global behemoths.
“Working for a start-up within a start-up, which essentially is what Uber for Business is, is not only challenging but inspiring. There’s no textbook on how to build a ridesharing organisation, especially one that works with businesses. We are learning all the time and in an incredible environment.”
Georgia said that as a leader, what she loved most was that when she hired an innovative and motivated team, there were never any moments where she needed to dictate how they worked.
“I’ll simply pull the team together and say let’s work out how we’re going to do this. The profile of the people that we hire are those that are driven to build this business, are willing to adapt, and open to change and that’s what makes them so exciting to work with.”
According to Georgia, the company also embraces the concept of a collaborative office environment exceptionally well.
“One of the things that completely wows me about the organisation is the calibre of the people I work with. We are not only working for one of the most innovative, forward-thinking companies in the world, but every person is so incredibly intelligent and collaborative.
“Here at Uber for Business we value hard work, humour, empathy, collaboration and above all, customer obsession. What that breeds is a fantastic group of people who hold themselves accountable for their own success and brilliance, and innovative products that change the way our customers move and feed the people they care most about.”
“The potential of biometrics in the air transport sector has been seriously considered for some time, but now that it’s gaining traction across the industry, the technology is starting to have a truly transformative impact,” according to the Executive Chairman of CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Peter Harbison.
Peter heads up the world’s largest publisher of business-oriented commercial aviation information and analysis, covering the global airport, air navigation services and airline industries.
Peter believes biometrics will play a key role in streamlining and automating the passenger experience in airports.
“Qantas and Sydney Airport recently announced a trial of facial recognition technology for the first stage of their ‘couch-to-gate’ biometrics strategy,” he said. “This could eventually mean that passengers can pass through the stages of automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding using only their face as a means of identification.
“These are great innovations and the whole area of facilitating movement through airports is undergoing a revolution.
“Leveraging facial recognition technology is a great step in the right direction, however standardising procedures between airlines, airports and government bodies will be the biggest challenge to rolling out new techniques for passenger processing.”
Peter said that this meant that organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association and other regional associations would begin to play a much greater part in the standardisation of these technologies.”
Developments in cyber security
Peter said the deployment of new and emerging technologies, and the ongoing digitalisation of the air transport industry has and will continue to present a number of challenges.
“Keeping systems secure is one of the biggest tasks faced by both airports and airlines,” he said.
“In fact, according to one of the world’s leading specialists in air transport information technology, SITA - 95% of airlines and 96% of airports plan to invest in research and programs to tackle cyber security initiatives over the next few years.
Peter added that a key commercial area was personal data, but he said the safety areas were probably of the deepest concern, as airlines and airports used legacy systems of variable integrity.
“I suspect expenditures in this area will have to be increased once one or two glaring lapses are exposed. Action is critical as the airline system tends to be a continuum, so if there’s one weak link, the whole system can fail.”
John Morhous joined the Flight Centre Travel Group in 2007 as the director of IT with FCM Travel Solutions, and most recently has worked in the role of Chief Strategy Officer for the company’s corporate brands in the Americas. In May this year John was promoted to the position of Chief Experience Officer (CXO) across FCTG’s corporate brands globally.
John is responsible for ensuring a streamlined approach to the implementation and management of new digital technologies, and contributing to the Flight Centre group’s global strategies for thought leadership, innovation plans and broader technology pipelines.
The Illuminate team recently talked to John about his new role and what part it plays in FCTG’s customer-centric strategies.
Why do you believe the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) is so vital to the corporate travel industry?
“Customers have high expectations of the available technology in today’s world … powerful computing devices and really intricate apps are being used by the majority of business travellers. However, business travel booking platforms in the past have been unfriendly and as a result people don’t use them.
But with the increase in elegantly designed and easy-to-use technologies, more and more customers are looking for consumer-grade applications similar to those used in the retail and leisure travel sectors.
I think the role of a CXO is a vital part of any global travel business, because the corporate travel industry is finally understanding that the consumer experience is just as important for business travel as it is for consumer travel”.
How does your role help make the value of the user experience an intrinsic part of FCTG’s strategic direction?
“It really comes back to the conundrum of business to consumer (B2C) versus business to business (B2B). With B2B you need to entice people to use your services, whereas with B2C they are somewhat forced to do so.
Specifically in the corporate travel sector, we are essentially a B2B2C business. In the past, consumers didn’t have much of a choice as they’d be forced to use either our FCM or our Corporate Traveller services.
However, these days, they do have a choice. Consumers can go to your site, but if it’s not user-friendly, they’ll go elsewhere to book. So it’s just recognising that trend and trying to adapt to it.”
Peter Harbison is Executive Chairman of CAPA - Centre for Aviation, which is currently the world’s largest publisher of B2B commercial aviation information and analysis, covering the global airport, air navigation services and airline industries. Peter established CAPA in 1990, and over the past 30 years has conducted more than 200 consultancy projects and authored and/or edited numerous reports on the aviation industry. We asked Peter how new advancements in the aviation industry, particularly in the area of long-haul flights, will affect the future of travel and specifically the behaviours involved with long-distance travel.
“We still have a lot to learn about passenger behaviour and preferences on ultra-long-haul flights because they are constantly changing. While aircraft speeds are pretty much the same on these types of flights, it’s hard to generate significant advantages over one-stops. Indeed, many people say they prefer a short stop in, for example, a 19-hour journey, particularly if they are in the back of the aircraft.
“Of course price is always a factor in the decision making process, however SME and business travellers tend to be less price sensitive, so it’s important to ensure they receive a different experience. Airlines operating these ultra-long services need to pay much greater attention to passenger comfort and to differentiating the overall experience in various ways, particularly when it comes to corporate travellers.
“In terms of corporate travel trends, we also need to factor in the fast-growing role of long-haul narrow body aircraft that can fly eight hours or more. These smaller aircraft contain only 200-odd seats and constitute very low seat costs. In order to achieve this in the past you would need big wide-body aircraft with anything from 300 to 600 seats. This resulted in a need for big city pairs to fly between routes and supply lots of connecting ‘feed’ traffic. These new aircraft can link small city pairs with good frequency. There are over 2000 of these narrow body aircraft due to be delivered in this region over the next five to eight years, including Jetstar’s cache of eighteen A320neoLR long-range narrow-bodied aircraft.”
What are your thoughts on the launch of Qantas’ London-Perth services?
“As far as aircraft technology stands, there are only a handful of routes where major gateways can be connected with today’s ultra-long operations. That’s important, because those services can concentrate on higher value passengers to whom price is less of an issue and convenience counts for more.
The Singapore-New York route operated by Singapore Airlines struggled in the past because of older equipment and ceased in 2013. So it will be interesting to see how their revived 19-hour service works. It’s no coincidence either that there is a lack of economy seating on the Singapore Airlines’ A350s, just Business and Premium Economy. You can do that when you have substantial business centres at each end.
In Australia, Qantas’ Perth-to-London 787-9 Dreamliner non-stop 17-hour service has its own unique marketing leverage, with the novelty of connecting the two antipodean countries for the first time. But Sydney-New York or even Sydney-London routes would be able to drive much higher yields, which is the reason why CEO Alan Joyce is challenging the original equipment manufacturers to deliver that capability.”
What kind of travel management solutions does 4D offer?
4D offers specialised travel management services for a range of industries that are typically looking to evolve. Our team works collaboratively with businesses to develop tailored strategies for their business travel activities to ensure the best return on investment possible. We offer a range of services from providing detailed reports on travel expenditure, aligning contracts with current market rates, negotiating with preferred suppliers, and sourcing technology solutions.
What type of clients does 4D work with?
We take a strategic approach to developing customised solutions, and have worked with a wide range of industry groups from the SME market through to large, global organisations. Typical clients include companies in the banking and pharmaceuticals sector that may be going through a massive transformation and need assistance with the corporate travel side of their business. Academia is another industry that often needs assistance. You’ve got students who work at the university, who are quite advanced with the technology side of things, but then you have a legacy structure of Deans who are challenged by some of the requirements of the modern day traveller.
A 4D business consultant would typically work as a contractor in the corporate side of the business, assisting with travel procurement or working on specific projects like on online adoption or hotel programming.
So it’s really just about assuming the role of an employee at that organisation and working with key stakeholders across all aspects of the business to ensure their travel programs are well and truly enhanced.
What is one of the key trends in this sector?
Globally, in the past 20 years the business travel request process has slowly evolved as technology has improved and the connectedness of the traveller-to-travel-agent has become more direct. We've seen the removal of faxed paper travel request forms and signature approvals. These have been replaced with online and email forms, and now end-to-end online booking platforms.
The automation and ease of booking for travellers has seen the traditional role of secretaries and travel bookers disappear in the majority of global markets.
Chief Executive Officer of Flight Centre Travel Group Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner will join Flight Centre co-founder Geoff Harris for the opening session at Illuminate 2018.
Graham and Geoff along with Bill James started the Flight Centre journey in 1982. After starting with one shop, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has enjoyed remarkable growth to become a $20 billion business consisting of more than 40 brands.
Appointed to the Flight Centre board in 1995, Graham has presided over a golden era of growth for FCTG. The strength of the Flight Centre global empire is a far cry from the double decker bus, Graham purchased in 1973 when he took his first steps into the travel industry, investing $1300 in an ageing bus to drive tourists around Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Geoff Harris served as an FCTG company executive until 1998 and was a non-executive director until 2008. Geoff was also an early investor in the highly successful Boost Juice business and served as the Vice President of the Hawthorn Football Club.
As the opening panel session for the Illuminate conference, Graham and Geoff will discuss the past, present and future of not only the Flight Centre Travel Group but what the future of travel might look like for the broader industry.
The Q&A with both business leaders promises an insightful and entertaining start to the day and will be moderated by Executive General Manager of FCTG’s corporate division, James Kavanagh.
"I still remember my school careers evening. There were four booths set up – for a doctor, lawyer, architect and accountant. Three years later I received my Bachelor of Planning and Design in Architecture but it wasn’t smooth sailing. I failed two pretty important subjects in Year 2 - how the building looked and how it stood up! It was while trying to convince the university board I should stay, then I realised I was much better at selling than I was at being an architect!"
Georgia spent four years at LinkedIn and in late 2016, secured the role as Head of Uber for Business, a startup within the technology company Uber that helps companies and Government move the people they care most about - employees, customers and clients.
"Working within a Silicon-Valley-type company is both inspiring and challenging. I’ve been able to work closely with engineering and product teams and deliver products with a customer obsession focus. Best of all, working in an innovative tech business is really rewarding because as we’ve started to scale and grow, the rest of this global consumer business has begun to recognise the value of targeted B2B strategies as well."
In terms of the key ingredients to a successful product or service launch, Georgia values beta testing and the user experience above all in terms of success.
"It’s not enough to just to have companies try out the product before you go to launch, you need to be able to iron out the actual experience as well. If you pick the right beta partners, you’ll get the most accurate feedback with enough time to fix any issues before you take it to market. You can also have the greatest concept in the world, but if your target market doesn’t enjoy their interaction with it in the first instance, it’s hard to get them to come back. If it becomes second nature to a customer and you continually add value, your marketing dollar investment will be less over time."
As Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, Air Canada services more than 200 airports on six continents, and in 2017 served close to 48 million customers. Air Canada was named the 2018 Best Airline in North America, and is the only international carrier in North America to receive a four-star ranking according to independent research firm, Skytrax. Here are some of the carrier’s latest offerings.
The launch of Signature Class
Year-round services between Melbourne and Vancouver
In June this year, Air Canada launched year-round non-stop Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights between Melbourne and Vancouver, opening up a new gateway to North America for travellers across Australia.
From Vancouver, passengers can explore British Columbia’s world-renowned attractions, and Air Canada’s services are also timed to optimise connectivity to the more than 120 destinations it serves across North America, including popular US cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York and Las Vegas.
Three cabin services are available including Economy Class, Premium Economy Class and Air Canada’s Signature Class, which features the airline's next-generation Executive Pod.
The new Melbourne service is timed to connect to and from domestic flights from Adelaide, Hobart and Perth via flights with Air Canada's codeshare partner Virgin Australia. It is not just the only direct link to Canada but also one of the fastest ways for Australians to reach New York and the US east coast.
As General Manager Vic Naughton points out, “A key reason for the service’s increased efficiency is that upon arrival in Vancouver International Airport, passengers who are transiting to the US can seamlessly pass through the airport’s US immigration and customs clearance facilities without collecting their bags. Once through, they then simply board their connecting flight and collect their luggage when they touch down in the US”. What a great way to fly!