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The Wire...from AirPlus

"The Wire...from AirPlus" is a monthly pulse report for the business travel industry on timely and relevant topics.

2014 Travel Program Priorities

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Managed travel fundamentals take precedence over emerging strategies as travel managers aim to optimize their programs, but new concerns and capabilities are taking hold in the travel management mainstream.

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Industry Pulse: IATA's New Distribution Capability

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Overall, the managed travel industry leans negatively on IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), but nearly half of buyers say they don’t know enough about it to have an opinion.

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Hotel Negotiations 2014

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As buyers face a general rise in 2014 hotel rates, existing prefered status provides little influence.

AirPlus International surveyed 169 corporate travel buyers in North America from August 22 to September 21, 2013. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported annual travel spend above $10 million and more than 17 percent reported spend above $50 million.

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Procurement or Finance: Reporting Structures for Travel Buyers

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While travel buyers indicate a variety of reporting structures within their organizations, priorities are in lockstep for the practice of travel management.

According to the survey, 31.8% of travel programs report through procurement, while 44.7% report through finance.

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Detecting and Controlling Expense Fraud

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Travel expense reporting is well known for its vulnerability to fraud. Mandated payment tools, tight integration of systems and consistent auditing are critical to prevention.

Nearly 35 percent of those questioned manage both travel and expenses within their organization. Another 15 percent identified their role as travel management, but being closely involved with creating expense policy as it relates to travel.

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Airline Consolidation

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The focus on a shrinking airline market—both domestic and international—is becoming more urgent for travel managers.

Stronger pricing power, reduced capacity, a weaker negotiation position…these are the top concerns of travel managers, according to a recent AirPlus International survey, as mergers, acquisitions, joint venture agreements and tight alliance partnerships continue to consolidate the market.

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Airline Ancillary Fees

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While travel managers accept ancillary fees as a normal part of today’s travel, they still grapple with how to acquire reliable data.

Worldwide, airline ancillary revenue was projected to reach $36.1 billion in 2012. AirPlus International recently conducted a survey of 130 corporate travel buyers to see how they are tracking their company's ancillary fee spend, as well as creating policy that manages such costs while allowing travelers the flexibility to remain productive.

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Traveler Tracking Technologies

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Travel managers say the ability to track travelers directly affects their ability to perform their job, but how to manage the tracking still presents issues.

According to a summer 2012 AirPlus International survey, the use of traveler tracking systems was the most common standard procedure in event of an emergency. As risk management continues to remain top of mind and new technologies augment traveler tracking abilities, AirPlus surveyed 130 corporate travel buyers this winter to better understand how travel managers were tracking their travelers.

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Open Booking: A Mixed Bag

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Despite the chatter about Open Booking as the next wave for travel management, the majority of travel managers don’t see it as a viable approach for their companies.

To gauge interest in this controversial new approach to managing travel, AirPlus International surveyed nearly 100 corporate travel managers in late 2012 about their views on the advantages and disadvantages of open booking and their interest in pursuing open booking at their own companies.

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Outlook 2013

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In the turbulent world of corporate travel, 2013 looks to be a busy year for travel managers as they face a continuing evolution of processes and larger trends reaching the organizational level.

To see where their attention will be primarily focused, AirPlus asked nearly a hundred corporate travel managers about their concerns and plans for 2013.

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Travel Program Globalization

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Travel managers utilize their entire tool kit, including TMCs, GDSs, booking tools, air contracts, expense technology and payment solutions to globalize travel programs.

As the world is increasingly connected through economic and technological ties, corporations of all sizes continue to move towards a global model for their business travel programs.

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The 2013 Hotel Negotiation Season.

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With anticipated hikes to negotiated room rates, travel managers are split between maintaining valuable supplier relationships or going for the lowest possible price.

Nearly half of the corporate travel managers who responded to a late summer survey by AirPlus expect to see an increase in hotel room nights in 2013.

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Traveler Safety and Security.

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Risk management remains top of mind amid ongoing worldwide economic, political and ecological uncertainty.

As worldwide economic and political situations remain volatile, the issue of traveler safety and security continues to be an ongoing challenge for travel managers.

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Fixed Budget: The Model of the Future?

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Despite concerns, travel managers are at least considering a fixed-budget model as a possible future approach.

With an ever-increasing eye towards ensuring traveler satisfaction—and an ever-increasing awareness that new mobile solutions are beckoning corporate travelers to leave traditional booking tools behind—corporate travel managers are exploring new approaches to travel management.

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Managing Mobile Travel Tools

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As corporate travelers increase their usage of mobile technology, corporate travel managers make small inroads into managing mobile travel apps and websites.

With the use of smartphones taking off across all demographics, corporate travel managers are confronted with large numbers of travelers using mobile apps to perform corporate travel functions—whether sanctioned by travel policy or not.

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Corporate Cards in the Managed Travel Space

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Corporate cards for travel provide the data corporations need to make strategic decisions.

Travel and entertainment is the second largest controllable cost for corporations and, as corporations continue to try to acquire the best—and most complete—data for strategic decision-making in this area, all aspects of the process come under scrutiny.

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Airline Joint Venture Contracts Take Off

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Travel managers see both advantages and disadvantages to working with airline joint ventures.

As increasing numbers of airline joint ventures continue to enter the marketplace, the navigation of airline contracts is changing.

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Millennial Business Travelers

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Corporate travel managers might be missing opportunities to connect with Millennials.

As Millennial workers—loosely defined as 21 to 30 years old—continue to enter the workplace, traditional management is struggling to figure out how this new generation fits into the workforce and what accommodations need to be made for them.

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Meetings Payment

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Meeting planners value payment solutions that offer detailed data and streamline processes.

As corporations grapple with integrating meetings management into a comprehensive travel management program, the area of payment strategies has met great change.

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Smart Moves

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Corporate travel managers pick up most of their expertise on the job.

The responsibilities of today’s corporate travel manager are in constant flux.

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