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It has been said many times: during periods of disruption, travel management companies (TMCs) show their real value. This is not news to the travel manager. It is only when unforeseen events trigger the need for companies to locate and repatriate staff do senior executives suddenly realize the indispensable role of this particular business partner. Let’s take a closer look at how a TMC is a company’s key ally in times of need…
Providing reliable travel advisories and alerts
During periods of disruption, you need information you can trust. With travel bans and restrictions impeding business trips, actions need to be taken swiftly. Missteps can happen when hastily acting upon misinformation.
A TMC can be your go-to resource for intelligence-driven, up-to-the-minute travel information so you can confidently take action in an expeditious manner. Your TMC should closely monitor travel advisories – year-round – and provide servicing and risk management alerts from the most credible sources. This should include potential disruptions resulting from travel bans while also equipping support teams with the latest updates so they can better service travelers.
Helping impacted travelers
Corporate travel teams must quickly identify where travelers are and who may be caught up in the disruption. Without the right tools, locating employees can become an unwieldy, time-consuming operation. And if it affects an entire organization, security and incident management teams may struggle to support everyone at the same time. This is when a TMC’s risk management technology can help get stranded travelers back home safely. Using the vast amount of itinerary information in our big data platform, GPS technology, real-time flight status updates, and credit card swipe data, our incident management solution, Expert Care™, GBT clients can quickly pinpoint travelers’ whereabouts and send alerts to security teams so they can prioritize helping those who are most likely impacted.
Additionally, the solution enables two-way communication via text, email, and mobile so companies have multiple ways of reaching employees and providing assistance. Travelers who have Expert Care on the Amex GBT Mobile app can share their geolocation and tell the company if they are safe during a disruption, eliminating another worry for the security team.
Supporting travelers when they need help the most
When flight cancellations and travel restrictions create disruptions worldwide, travel companies’ telephone systems become tied up due to the swell of queries. At the same time, business travelers, all trying to cancel trips simultaneously, cannot necessarily rely on their corporate travel team for support since it too is inundated with questions.
A TMC can help relieve the pressure and frustration. Through the use of big data and client analytics, it can seamlessly identify potentially affected travelers when travel bans are announced and, through a flight disruption service like our Proactive Traveler Care™, can proactively contact those with upcoming trips and help coordinate new arrangements.
Unlike most travelers who must work directly with suppliers to get itineraries changed, our clients’ business travelers using the Amex GBT Mobile can use the app’s click-to-call or click-to-chat functions to connect with a travel counselor 24/7 for assistance.
Being your rock and advocate through the ordeal
When there’s a tsunami of trip cancellations, a lone organization may not have the supplier relationships needed to manage refunds and penalty fees. This is when a TMC, with its well-established relationships with suppliers across the travel ecosystem, can negotiate favorable terms on a client’s behalf. Since the onset of the COVID-19 situation, GBT has been in constant contact with the senior leaders of our most strategic partners, providing feedback from our client base to help inform their policy decisions. While cancellation penalties may apply for domestic travel in the United States, certain airlines have been working with us to change names, dates, and destinations at no cost. (Exact protocols vary by airline.)
Lastly, you can rely on an experienced TMC to be a steady hand and your sounding board. GBT has robust business continuity and risk management procedures in place to continue delivering a positive traveler and client experience even during periods of disruption. We have been in this business for more than 100 years, helping clients navigate the ups, downs, and sideways of this ever-evolving landscape.
We are here with you today, guiding you through COVID-19, and we will be here tomorrow when travel restrictions are eased and you increase your business travel. Speak to an American Express Global Business Travel representative today to learn about how we can help you.
Click here to view the How Travel Management Companies Can Lend a Hand in a Disruption e-book and learn more.
La version française de ce texte est actuellement en préparation et sera publiée sous peu sur ce site.
Whether a company has invested a lot or a little in its business continuity plan (BCP), it shows when a crisis or disruption transpires. Those with practiced procedures in place to protect the company are able to respond, reset, and rebound more effectively, while those caught off-guard may suffer the consequences long after the incident is over.
Today Sasha Kalb, Vice President, Risk, Compliance, and Environmental Social Governance at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) who is based in Hong Kong, shares some thoughts on what to consider when building a BCP program and how we’ve employed our own to manage the current situation.
Q. Why should companies prioritize BCP?
A. Big or small, business interruptions arise all the time and we have to have policies and procedures in place to continue servicing businesses and keep our clients and employees safe. If you don’t, you may face a business shutdown, unnecessary costs, or risk to human health and safety every time you encounter an issue.
Q. Why is it important to have a BCP that outlines how to protect traveling employees?
A. Responding in a crisis is particularly important in a travel situation because people are far from their homes. Employees expect their employers to take care of them, particularly in situations where their health or safety is at risk.
In a large-scale crisis, you are almost guaranteed to face a situation where your employees are all over a nation or the globe, so you should know where they’re traveling as a start. You need to be able to contact them to make sure they’re safe and have an open channel of communication. You need to warn them if they’re in danger and be able to contact their families or supervisors. You should link up with a travel management company that can rebook their flights proactively, rebook their train or car, or extend a hotel stay if they won’t be able to get out of the city.
Q. What is one of the most important things a company can do when devising a BCP?
A.Set goals that are consistent with the corporate culture and then build your plan down from that. In a time of crisis, it’s very easy to deviate from a corporate culture, whatever your culture may be. Once you do that, you potentially can lose the supportive employee base, your grounding, and customer focus, and it can be very difficult to get back on track.
Q. What has been the focus of GBT’s BCP goals regarding the current situation?
A. We’ve been looking at this in two ways: internal safety and client management. So making sure we keep our employees safe and making sure that we have business continuity for our clients. Both are equally important.
Q. How has GBT kept employees safe in this climate?
In Asia, we had a head start, obviously because the virus started here. We began assessing what remote capabilities we had: Do we have to order people to work from home? What is the minimum number of staff we need in the office? Should we have them on a rotating basis to enforce social distancing?
We also looked at what we need to do to ensure the safety of office-based employees: Do we have sufficient protective gear if masks are required? Do we have hand sanitizer? Can we move people away from each other if they are sitting close to each other? Can we move desks or people to different floors?
We started doing temperature checks in some offices as well as health declarations to know if people were traveling.
As soon as it looked like the virus was beginning to spread beyond China, we took what we’d already done there to other offices proactively. Once we had the goals set and the pattern drawn up in Greater China, it became more straightforward as to how we could carry that to other regions.
Q. How has GBT’s BCP focused on servicing clients during this pandemic?
On the client side, we did the same thing. We started taking this list we developed in China and sent it around the globe, because client service was our other equally primary goal: estimating what the call and service volumes would be. Do we have enough employees working remotely or in the office to support them? Are we providing our clients with sufficient information?
Initially, we were sending out information by email to clients, but then as the pandemic grew, we created a webpage, essentially a central repository to house all the information our clients were requesting. We designated teams to follow the sun and update the information, such as carrier bans, flight cancellations, and government mandates, on a daily basis.
Q. From a cybersecurity perspective, it can be risky for employees to work from home. What safeguards has GBT taken to protect against data threats?
We have very strict controls about how employees can work at home. When people work remotely, it’s predicated on the fact that they work on an encrypted GBT device unless otherwise approved by the Chief Information Security Office. Employees also all connect through GBT’s VPN (virtual private network) with controls built in. They cannot print anywhere but in an office environment.
We’ve also sent out additional messages to the entire employee base from our information security officer saying, “here’s what you have to be aware of,” since there are a lot of fraud schemes and phishing attacks being made in this pandemic. This is in addition to our mandatory annual online training on privacy and cybersecurity.
Q. How much business continuity planning is there throughout the year?
A. Well, a lot. We have a very robust incident management response (IMR) program that was designed years ago based on three tiers: local, regional, and global. For each category, we have a designated team that will handle the incident, named by function so individuals know they’re on it. We train everybody on a biannual basis. We do tabletop exercises and also randomly send out texts as a test to “dial into the dedicated IMR hotline now.” So we do a lot of testing and training around our program.
When we set an IMR, we assign a level – a low, medium, or serious threat. Level One is the most serious.
For this pandemic, we’ve been operating under Level One since January 27. Because this has been such a strange, unprecedented time, we have had to be a little bit more nimble with the IMR, but the basic structure has not changed. Having lived this since January 27, I see how helpful it is to have this prepopulated framework to rely on.
Q. What makes GBT’s IMR program so strong?
A. People are so well versed in the program. Many people have had attended IMR training for years so they are familiar with the language and practice. So once we had to invoke, the cadence was not unusual. It was practiced and learned. People knew who the designated leader was and why they were participating. I think that has set our program aside as a well-working one.
Q. How has being a bank holding company helped the compliance program?
A. Because we are a bank holding company and are beholden to regulators, we have a standard of rigor and control that we apply to compliance generally. Because we have applied that same standard of rigor and control to our IMR planning and training, when it came to invoking what is hopefully the biggest incident that any of us will ever see globally, we were ready. The standard was high and it worked.
Q. What is one last thing you want to emphasize to company leaders?
A. You don’t really think a crisis is going to occur until it does. When we were asking people to join IMR trainings, in the back of everyone’s mind perhaps was, “Is this really necessary?” Then all of a sudden, it wasn’t just necessary. It was mission critical. Without good planning, it’s very difficult to pivot in a crisis. So if crisis management has not been at the forefront before, it really should be added to the risk roster for most organizations.
La version française de ce texte est actuellement en préparation et sera publiée sous peu sur ce site.
Many of us find ourselves working from home due to precautions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
Whether you are joining the remote workforce for the first time or increasingly working from home, it is important to take time to think about how best to create a successful working environment.
1. Establish your space.
In today’s mobile-driven environment, many of us can and do work from anywhere – but it is important to have a space that roommates, significant others, and family know is the “work zone.” Not everyone has access to a home office with a door that can be closed to stake out your “office,” but you do need to create a dedicated work space within the reality of what is going on in your life – family, small children, pets, friends, roommates…
2. Do you have the tools you need to feel productive and connected?
These tools will vary for everyone, but take a moment to think about what you really need.
If you work for a company that has the tech infrastructure and network to support remote employees, work with your leader and IT team to see how you can best recreate your tools at home. Identify what you will miss most in terms of both tech and non-tech tools and support, and prioritize these to create an optimal work environment.
3. Set your “go to work” routine.
This will look different for everyone, based on what gets you into a work-mode headspace and what is going on at home. “Going to work” might sound silly when you aren’t leaving your home – but it does help to build a daily routine, and to attempt to stick with it.
Many homeworkers find it important to get properly dressed for the day to get into that working frame of mind. Think comfortable but smart enough to look like you mean business when on a video conference call.
Think about what works for your routine, such as getting the kids fed and ready for school – or in these COVID-19 times, home learning and activities. With these added challenges for those with young children, work with your team leaders to agree to shorter, intense or task-based work windows. Flexibility is key here. Where possible, be prepared to work “out of hours” when young ones are asleep.
4. Try to set boundaries.
Emphasis on the word “try.” Those new to homeworking can feel overwhelmed with all the “personal life” stuff around them. In the office, you don’t make eye contact with that Mount Everest pile of laundry – out of sight, out of mind, right? But when you pass it every time you go to get a glass of water, the temptation looms large to tackle it, instead of staying focused on the action items of your workday. Think: Would you be taking a break right now if you were in the office? Of course, office workers get breaks, so if you are due one, that laundry’s all yours – or better still, step outside and get some fresh air.
Boundaries come in all forms, including sound boundaries. When not on calls, some people find keeping those headsets or earbuds on with some music helps block the hustle of nonwork life happening around the homeworker.
On the flip side, working from home can sometimes make it harder to end the workday. It is important to establish what the “end of day” means for you in the context of your role.
Make the most of saved commuting time to both be more productive and improve work-life balance.
5. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.
Now is the time to turn on that laptop camera during team meetings (yes, it can be a bit weird if you aren’t used to it, but give it a try!). Seeing faces in different places helps you feel like you’re still with your colleagues.
Pick up the phone multiple times a day to talk to teammates, and set up a team chat on WhatsApp. A chat group won’t replace in-office camaraderie, but it will serve as a nice second choice to share information, ask questions, share memes or links, and to engage with your team more frequently than via scheduled meetings and emails. Explore different channels of communication to keep your team as connected as possible.
Are you working from home? Share your experiences, stories, and tips with @amextgbt via Twitter and LinkedIn.
You know you’ve done an excellent job making travel arrangements for the executive you report to. From triple checking the itinerary to reconfirming all the ground, air, and hotel bookings, you feel confident it all should go off without a hitch.
But what do you do if an unexpected flight disruption derails your best-laid plans? After all, flight delays and cancellations can happen anytime as a result of Mother Nature, mechanical issues, labor strikes, and other circumstances beyond your reach. And what if the flight gets canceled when your executive team is traveling in a different time zone and it’s the middle of the night back home? Must you be woken up at 3 a.m. and scramble to rebook their trip?
Fortunately, there is a better solution. Proactive Traveler Care™ (PTC) from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is a flight disruption service that can act like your very own travel assistant, handling these annoying issues without any sort of intervention required on your end.
Proactive Traveler Care uses cutting-edge technology to monitor travelers’ flights in real time, anticipate flight disruptions proactively, and automatically contact your impacted executive team to help with rebooking assistance, so they can have their travel rebooked quickly and easily — all without having to reach out to their assistant (i.e., you!).
The way it works: When a company is enrolled in Proactive Traveler Care and travel has been booked through GBT, our technology proactively monitors travelers’ flights closely around the clock so that the moment a flight disruption occurs, we can respond swiftly.
If there is a flight delay of over 60 minutes, a cancellation, or a possibility that a traveler may miss their connection, a notification will automatically be sent to the traveler via email, text, or the Amex GBT Mobile app to see if rebooking support is needed. For example, if the traveler replies “yes,” then a travel counselor will reach out to them directly and offer assistance.
Our travel counselors are available 24/7 and can help with rebooking requirements, whether that means rescheduling the flight only or having hotel and/or ground transportation reservations rebooked as well. Our travel counselors also work with travelers to make sure they travel the way they wish and have access to all their booking preferences, so they quickly can suggest a new trip without having to talk to the traveler.
Whether an executive prefers to wait to make that 10-hour trip when a business class seat opens up or they prefer to get home on the next available flight and don’t care where they have to sit, Proactive Traveler Care helps make that rebooking happen quickly and seamlessly, ultimately helping to give you peace of mind — and a restful night’s sleep — when your executive is out of town.
Contact us to learn more about Proactive Traveler Care and how American Express GBT can assist with your corporate travel needs.
Looking to 2020, it can seem that the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty. With increased economic and geopolitical volatility ahead, it is more important than ever that corporate travel buyers equip themselves with rich insights to support their planning.
Below are some keys trends and insights from the 2020 Air Monitor from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).
The Air Monitor has been developed by our Global Business Consulting team of aviation experts. For our forecast pricing conditions on key business routes around the world as well as advice from our global air practice team on building “nimble” air contracting programs, fill out the form below to download the full report.
Overall, growth in global demand for travel slowed in 2019 and is likely to continue to do so in 2020. However, capacity growth largely slowed at a similar pace, resulting in only minor increases to load factor. Rising costs for oil, labor, and infrastructure continue to squeeze margins, compelling airlines to recoup costs via higher fares and/or a push for increased ancillaries. However, fierce competition is restricting their ability to raise fares.
While economy base fare yields have been largely flat in 2019, premium fare yields have been on the rise since 2017 on stronger business demand. This has been particularly true on long-haul/ transatlantic flights. If economic headwinds and reduced trade diminish demand among business travelers, look for prices to soften accordingly.
In last year’s Air Monitor, long-haul low-cost carriers (LCCs) looked poised to have a significant impact on travel. However, with the exception of those providing inter-regional services in Asia, long-haul LCCs have largely floundered. Despite a set of strong Q3 2019 results from Norwegian, the failure of several long-haul LCCs, including Primera and XL Airways, have cast doubt on the viability of this model going forward.
The year 2020 could be even more challenging for long-haul LCCs. While mainline carriers may initially have overreacted to the threat from long-haul LCCs, they are now taking a more measured approach. Lufthansa has pulled back on its Eurowings LCC brand and IAG is doing the same with LEVEL. It’s a different story on short-haul routes where LCCs continue to thrive, putting pressure on the mainline carriers.
Fare segmentation, or unbundling, continues to grow and evolve as a way for carriers to simultaneously meet different needs and budgets – and respond to the competitive challenge posed by LCCs. With basic economy fares generally priced close to where the original main cabin fares used to be, this has essentially become a way to bump more passengers up to a higher fare. In fact, some US carriers have found that a large percentage of shoppers ultimately move up from the basic/unbundled fare into a more profitable standard fare type.
Fare segmentation is not limited to economy fares: Emirates recently became the first airline to offer unbundled business class fares, while Lufthansa is planning to charge a premium for some business class seats (such as the “throne seat”) on its new 777X. Look out for other carriers following suit at some point. For corporations, the availability of cheaper option business class seats could open up new opportunities in negotiations with carriers.
Changing airline retailing strategies are presenting challenges for those managing corporate travel programs. Some airlines have chosen to remove fares from the global distribution systems (GDSs), and/or add distribution surcharges to tickets.
The API technology standard known as New Distribution Capability (NDC) has often been misleadingly cited by airlines as necessitating these moves – but, in fact, withholding content or charging fees are commercial decisions by airlines, not the result of NDC. GBT is at the forefront of working with the GDSs to make NDC-enabled content available to business travel buyers. GBT is successfully working with many airlines around the world on joint retailing initiatives, based on core distribution principles: aggregated, transparent content; simplicity for users; cost efficiency; and servicing abilities – all of which help deliver value to corporate buyers.
The grounding of the 737 MAX in March 2019 following two fatal crashes has had a significant impact on airlines, compelling many to cancel services or delay the retirement of older aircraft. For some carriers, notably Southwest and Ryanair, the absence of the 737 MAX has made it difficult to increase capacity. Timelines for the 737 MAX’s return to service have been repeatedly pushed back, creating uncertainty and putting pressure on airline revenues.
In December 2019, Boeing suspended production of the aircraft. A separate issue with the Boeing 737NG pickle fork (a structure that joins the wing to the 737’s fuselage) began grounding 737s in late 2019. This grounding will heap extra misery on carriers with large 737 fleets who are already struggling with the capacity impact from the 737 MAX grounding.
Concerns about air travel and climate change are coming to the fore, particularly in Europe. In the second half of 2019, there has been an increasing amount of media coverage about the environmental impact of air travel. The flygskam — “flight shame” in Swedish — phenomenon in Scandinavia is a product of growing public concern about carbon emissions from aviation. Many of the world’s largest airlines including Lufthansa, Qantas, United, and Delta, have introduced carbon offset or biofuel surcharges. Upping the ante, EasyJet has announced it would become “carbon neutral,” offsetting emissions by investing in forestry, renewable energy, and water projects.
Regulators are also taking a growing interest in the topic: in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a jet fuel tax in Europe and the government of Germany announced a climate package for 2020 that will increase taxes on aviation while cutting the tax rate for rail travel.
For more strategic advice specifically configured for your travel program, please get in touch with our Global Business Consulting team.
Fill out the form below to download the full 2020 Air Monitor report.
We know you may feel conflicted about all the traveling you do because of the impact it has on the environment, so we have put together 15 ways you can make your next trip greener. Not only do these practices benefit Mother Earth, but many of them also can benefit you and your company’s cost-saving efforts.
1. Keep calm and only carry on
Carrying around extra baggage? Whether for leisure or business, become a carry-on-only type of traveler. Not only will it help to reduce the aircraft’s fuel consumption, but it means less of a headache, backache, and faster departure from the airport for you as well as no checked baggage fees!
2. Bottle up
It’s one extra item to bring, but do pack a stainless steel bottle for consuming water and coffee on the go to reduce your plastic consumption. It’s not only healthier for the planet, but some research suggests it’s healthier for your body as well not to be drinking from disposable water bottles – not to mention easier on expenses when you can load up on free H20 at public water dispensers and coffee from your hotel room.
3. Swipe, tap, scan
If you’re still printing out your itinerary and boarding passes, save the paper and ink by downloading our Amex GBT Mobile app, which allows you to quickly check into your flight, view complete trip details, and access electronic boarding passes.
4. Turn off, turn down, and unplug
Leaving an empty house? Before locking up, turn off the lights, turn down the thermostat, and unplug all electronics (since they can drain power even when not turned on). Then treat yourself to something with the money you save on your energy bill.
5. Trains over planes
If traveling in Europe or Asia where there are excellent high-speed rail systems, why not take a train over a plane? Just think of what you’ll be getting: comfortable seating, the ability to stretch your legs whenever you’d like, the ability to use your phone (or free Wi-Fi) anytime – plus the possibility of seeing stunning views of the countryside.
6. Time to be direct
If taking a plane is unavoidable, try to select the most direct route possible since the most fuel gets burned during takeoff and landing. Why would you want to spend more time getting from Point A to Point B anyhow?
7. Economy is eco-friendly
Even for long-haul flights, consider flying economy. As this BBC report explains, carbon emissions per passenger are about three times higher when selecting business class instead (due to more space per seat). Yes, you may not sleep as well, but it won’t be your conscience keeping you up. Plus, perhaps you can get some sort of incentive for saving the company so much money.
8. Rent the fuel-efficient wheels
Renting a car, especially if traveling solo, isn’t the greenest option, but if unavoidable, go for the smallest vehicle that uses the least gas. Hey, if you’re in the market for a hybrid or electric car, this could be the perfect opportunity to test-drive one.
9. Ditch the chauffeur
If your hotel is in close vicinity of your meeting location, get some fresh air by biking or walking to and from the venue. This way, you won’t feel guilty for making a lame excuse to skip the hotel gym.
10. Take a bike or a hike
Avoid contributing to the city’s pollution and traffic problems by skipping the car service at the airport and taking public transportation to your next stop instead. If roads are congested, you just may get there faster. Plus, you’ll recover from jet lag more quickly if you’re not taking a snooze in the back seat during daylight hours.
11. Recycling still counts
Just because you’re away doesn’t mean you should forget about Mother Earth. In the hotel, in the airport, and in the office, separate your trash just like you do when you’re at home.
12. Pass on the plastics
According to the Plastic Oceans Foundation, almost 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually – half of which is single-use – and more than 8 million tons of that plastic are dumped into the ocean. So try to minimize your use of plastic straws, coffee stirrers, bags, containers, and cutlery on the road. Better yet, bring your own reusable travel utensils.
13. Keep the sign flipped to “Do Not Disturb” 24/7
Yes, that means you’ll be forgoing maid service. When you do, not only will you save on the water and energy to launder the linens, but you won’t have to worry about any harsh cleaning products being sprayed throughout the room.
14. Ditch the all-you-can-eat
Complimentary hotel breakfast? Select the a la carte option to avoid waste. If only the buffet option is included, think with your head, not your stomach, and take only what you know you can eat. The landfill will thank you.
15. Reflect, reset, repeat
Even though many of the changes we’re suggesting above are pretty simple to implement, it will take a conscious effort to change your routine, so it will take a few trips before you get into the hang of things. Try to become more aware of the greener actions you’re taking on the road and at home and how you can do better next time.
Our clients have expressed a growing interest in how they can reduce the carbon footprint of their travel program, so we have put together the steps below to help travel managers achieve this goal. For much more on how you can jumpstart a sustainable travel program, check out our white paper “Green Travel: Approach to Integrating Sustainability in Business Travel” at the end of this post.
1.Calculate your travel program’s carbon footprint
When you’re getting started on a sustainable travel program, the first step is to audit your travel activities and establish a baseline. Then you can identify opportunities for reducing your footprint and implementing carbon neutrality initiatives. Through American Express Global Business Travel’s business intelligence solutions, we can provide you with emissions data for your air, rail, and car as well as ongoing reporting to track your progress. Your travelers also can view and compare the carbon emissions of their flight and ground transportation options on our online booking tool, Neo™, before making their reservations.
2. Support suppliers that support the environment
When sourcing suppliers, inquire about their sustainability practices or do your own research. When evaluating air carriers, look at the age of the carrier’s fleet (older aircraft tend to be less fuel-efficient) and if they are using low-emissions planes and/or contributing to offsetting programs. Partner with hotels that have an environmental certification from programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Green Key Global, and Green Globe. Typically, properties with these credentials feature flow-restrictive showerheads, low-flow toilets, and energy-efficient lighting and linen programs.
3. Encourage train travel for shorter distances
According to a report by Vox, short flights produce a larger amount of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger compared to longer routes. So if your travelers don’t need to go far, nudge them to take the train instead. It can really make a difference. According to data pulled from EcoPassenger, a journey from London to Brussels emits about 18 pounds of CO2 per passenger by train. For the same route by airplane, it emits 260 pounds. Even though the train takes about two hours longer, when you factor the time getting to the airport and clearing security, going by rail actually may be the better option timewise.
4. Incentivize travelers to fly economy
Your travel policy may allow employees to purchase a business class seat on certain flights, but it is greener to fly economy, as explained in this BBC report. For those travelers who wish to make a greener seat selection and forgo the more luxurious business cabin, you may want to offer them an incentive. It likely will not cost the company extra since you will be avoiding the exorbitant cost of business.
5. Let travelers fly direct
Because of the large source of CO2 emissions and fuel consumed during takeoffs and landings, the greener option when flying is to take a direct flight. Yes, this sometimes means a higher airfare than a connecting flight, but it also will mean less money that needs to be spent on a carbon-offsetting program if your company is involved with one. Speaking of which…
6. Offset the travel program’s carbon emissions
After calculating how many CO2 emissions your travelers are responsible for (which we can help you do), consider donating the monetary amount to any number of organizations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At American Express Global Business Travel, we offset our travel program by purchasing carbon credits to support the Envira Amazonia Project. In 2019, we began offsetting 100% of our business travel activities.
7. Promote sustainable ground transportation options
Encourage travelers to share taxi rides when traveling together and to take public transportation when they are not. Our booking tool, Neo, makes it easier for them to map out their route since it displays public transportation options in more than 50 countries, including timetables and names of stops. If travelers do need to rely on a rental car to get around, negotiate with car suppliers for a discount on their electric and hybrid models.
8. Work with us on greener meetings
Our American Express Meetings & Events team can help you identify ways to make your meetings more sustainable. In addition to recommending locations and transport strategies that minimize travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, we can help you reduce indirect emissions by sourcing energy-efficient hotels and implementing other sustainable practices (e.g., eliminating water bottles from meetings, utilizing reusable and electronic signage, etc.). Contact us to learn more.
9. Show travelers that it’s easy to be green
Travelers may not realize how much their small actions can add up. For instance, as we explain in the “Green Travel” white paper, a traveler reusing their towels 10 times during their hotel stays equates to the amount of carbon a tree removes from the atmosphere in a year. Make them aware of the simple ways they can become a greener traveler by sending them this Atlas article.
10. Get targeted guidance on transforming your program
Our Global Business Consulting team works one-on-one with clients to craft policies that fit their corporate culture and raise environmental awareness to achieve emissions reduction goals. We then can assist with the full transformation, from building a business case and helping to secure stakeholder buy-in to leading change management initiatives to get travelers to embrace the new policy. To get started, contact your client manager.
To download the “Green Travel” white paper, fill out the form below.
January 30, 2020 – In June 1999, OpenBSD held the very first recorded hackathon. A bunch of developers from around the world were invited to congregate in a house in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and, within a week, they had the first IPv6 and IPSEC stacks completely integrated into an operating system. You may have no idea what that means, but that achievement was an industry first, and it proved just how successful humans can be when uniting so much talent in one room to collaborate on a joint mission.
The hackathon has gone through a bit of an evolution since that event in Calgary more than 20 years ago. These days, hackathons are not just coders or developers. They have expanded to become a type of crowdsourcing event that brings together talent from multiple backgrounds to help solve a business challenge and explore new ways of doing things.
We love that kind of ingenuity. Only through fostering innovative ideas can we move ahead as an industry, which is why we began hosting our own hackathon event four years ago.
American Express Global Business Travel has established itself as a leader of innovation in the corporate travel management industry by building our own proprietary tools as well as partnerships with companies known for their cutting-edge technology. Through KDS, a company we acquired in 2016, we have an award-winning booking tool that harnesses artificial intelligence to create a customized journey for travelers. We have built a special benchmarking solution that measures 40 KPIs, including traveler well-being. And behind it all is our sophisticated Core Technology Platform, which brings together trip data, traveler profile, and content options to enable consistent experiences across all our products and third-party integrations.
We launched our first hackathon in 2016 to continue that tradition of innovation and to help turn imaginative ideas into tangible results that will benefit our clients and partners. Today, our hackathon is a highly anticipated event at our organization.
What’ it’s all about
Open to all GBT employees as well as contractors, we anticipate more than two dozen teams to enter this year’s competition. So that the teams are solving for real-time business travel issues, we assembled a 12-member Hackathon advisory committee that solicited input from leaders across GBT about the kinds of projects participants should devote their time and energy to. From their feedback, four categories emerged.
The first category invites teams to devise solutions that improve the “bleisure” experience for our clients’ travelers. The second is on creating better business travel experiences for growth and medium enterprises. The third centers around hyper automation and asks participants to come up with solutions that help to automate the end-to-end process within business travel. For the last theme, participants are asked to focus on emerging technologies that likely will gain broader adoption in the corporate world within the next 12 to 18 months.
Employees have had the last few weeks to organize themselves into groups of up to six, brainstorm ideas, and enter their submissions. With only five teams allowed for each topic this year, the teams soon will be notified which ones will be moving forward in the competition. Those that are selected will have a few weeks to solidify their concepts and receive coaching from the advisory teams.
Then starting on Feb. 24, the real fun begins. Teams will converge in Phoenix, where they will have two days to work on their prototypes.
During this frenetic phase, each team will race to build their models and presentations, working around the clock to create a high-quality demonstration. Members of the Hackathon advisory committee will be on hand to help teams stay true to the mission of solving for relevant business travel issues.
Because our employees are spread across approximately 120 countries, some teams will be collaborating with their colleagues in other parts of the world, managing their tasks in different time zones. Others will be huddled together in conference rooms, writing code, testing, and working on their business case and presentation material.
At the end of the 48 hours, many of the groups will have a fully operational prototype. Then one by one, they will present their demos to the panel of judges:
Chris Adams, VP Client Management in Middle Markets
Mark Rude, VP Traveler Care
Alex Stutz, VP Global Supplier Management Americas
Jeff Lawlor, VP Data Analytics
Harg Malhi, VP Technology
Troy McKaskle, VP Enterprise Architecture
These six judges will select a winning innovation based on four criteria:
Innovation/creativity and relevance
Feasibility to commercialize cost-effectively
First-, second- and third-place winners will be announced at a special reception on the final day of the event. But the group that walks away with the grand prize will have more than a shiny trophy and office bragging rights. This year’s triumphant team will earn funding for its innovation to be piloted as an official GBT project led by Chief Information Technology Officer David Thompson. If the pilot goes well, chances are high that it will land up in production.
If you are interested in being part of an organization where ingenuity and originality truly are valued and celebrated, make sure to visit our careers page.
Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitterfor the latest on #GBTHackathon2020.
Will business travelers earn loyalty points when booking through the company’s booking channels? Should they spend time trying to find the lowest hotel rate online, or is what’s available in the online booking tool already a great deal? And can they really trust those hotel star ratings?
To help you discover the answers to those questions and more, we have put together a fun “fact or fiction” quiz. Whether you are a frequent business traveler who spends more nights in hotel rooms than days in the home office, a business travel newbie, or a travel manager who wants to learn more about how to save on your company’s accommodations program, we think you will learn something new. You also may stumble upon a tip or two that can help you save on the company’s accommodations program.
To access the quiz, presented in a mini e-book format, fill out the form below and click on “Submit.” You then will be redirected to a new screen where you will be able to download the document.
We know that capturing full trip details is tricky when business travelers book their hotel separately from their air travel and outside of the company-approved booking channels. Well, we have a solution that can help!
Trip Recommender™, which uses robust data analytics technology, identifies traveling employees who have not booked a hotel room along with their air reservation and delivers via email and the Amex GBT Mobile app up to three personalized hotel recommendations based on an employee’s travel preferences, colleagues’ travel patterns, and company preferences. With advanced rate logic and one-click booking capability, Trip Recommender makes it super-simple for employees to book company-approved options at the lowest price.
But don’t just take our word for it. We have two satisfied clients who’ve shared their stories about how the tool has helped to reduce their hotel spend, aid their negotiations with suppliers, and boost duty of care governance.
Find out how this complimentary, simple-to-implement service helped travelers of an Italian/Argentine mining, construction, and engineering company spend, on average, $26 less per booking. This alone translated into an 18% cost reduction for the hotel program.
Then take a look at why this computer hardware and data storage company became an instant fan of Trip Recommender. (One reason is that the company saw a dramatic spike in its hotel attachment rate, which rose 14 percentage points.)