As we enter a new decade for business travel, we kick things off with Europe’s largest business travel conference – the Business Travel Show.
What an eventful two days it was! Over 8000 travel industry professionals attended the event with over 500 hosted buyers and over 160 industry-leading speakers hosting educational sessions.
We are still recovering from the buzz.
Here are some of our biggest highlights:
1. PredictX, with Emburse, demonstrated our next-generation fraud transaction detection software
We were so excited to show the industry the fruits of an exciting new tool we have been developing. Our new tool, Inspector, uses next-generation AI to take a holistic look at expense management and accounts payable provider, Emburse’s expense data feed to automatically detect suspicious transactions without needing to have a bunch of policy rules defined beforehand.
Going a step beyond current fraud detection software, it uses supervised and unsupervised machine learning to take a holistic look at all the data – understanding the linkages between employees, activities and expenses. This is especially important for situations like meetings and events where assistants may book on behalf of others – making it more difficult to track fraudulent activity.
2. BTiQ and Buying Business Travel became BTN Europe
Buying Business Travel and BTiQ officially rebranded to BTN Europe. BTN Europe will continue to be a bi-monthly magazine complimenting other titles within Northstar’s BTN Group, including Business Travel News, Travel Procurement and The Beat. This follows the BTN Group’s recent acquisition of the Business Travel Show itself.
3. The Business Travel Innovation Face-off announced a winner
The Innovation Faceoff is always a much anticipated event at the conference, recognising the new solutions that are disrupting the marketplace.
There was strong competition yet Bizly won the judges choice while TripBam won the people’s choice award at the conference.
The judges evaluated and questioned all eight supplier presentations to determine the official winner of the 2020 Business Travel Innovator Award. The conclusion was that:
“Bizly’s impactful presentation clearly demonstrated a strong user-centric and collaborative design for improving the meeting planner experience and streamlining the venue sourcing process, empowering companies to do more themselves.”
4. Data moved centre stage
Although data is seldom thought of as the most exciting part of travel management, its integral influence on the travel manager is being recognised in many industry events. The Business Travel Show was no exception. There were countless speaker sessions reiterating the importance of data in programme management.
Travel by numbers: how data can help you stay in control presented by Booking.com’s Josh Wood, looked at how we can use data to help meet traveller’s needs and support change in corporate travel policy. He also stressed the importance of analysing data from multiple sources, an area in which PredictX are experts in.
How to be a data storyteller by Furthr’s Andy Pemberton looked at how travel managers can get buy-in from senior management, travellers and other stakeholders by using spectacular data visualisations to tell the story of their travel data. Our product, The Story, which provides automated reports to business stakeholders and department heads is an example how text, along with effective data visualisation, can improve travel programme engagement throughout a company.
Data is not a new thing, it is fundamental – this was the resounding message of Fundamentals: using data for improved savings and control. It was yet another session describing the overwhelming importance of data.
5. We discussed the countless possibilities of AI
While data is no doubt fundamental, we decided to focus on what is next for 2020 – using AI to manage this data and revolutionise travel programmes. Our CEO sat on a panel called How AI is changing the way you manage business travel – and what you can do about it. Together with Randstad’s Director of Global Travel Transformation, Yvonne Moya, Egencia’s Alex Kaluzny, Accenture’s Dominik Krimpmann and Sabre’s Joao Pedro Santos, they discussed how AI can be used within a business travel programme. The panel was moderated by BTN Editor, Elizabeth West.
Our CEO, Keesup Choe, surprised the audience by describing AI using haikus, limericks and poetry verses written by members of the PredictX team.
“Your use of AI is still lagging
And your KPIs are all sagging (or flagging?)
There isn’t much sense
In using past tense
Or you’ll zig when you should have been zagging
Look I know that it’s mean to be nagging
But instead of just guessing and blagging
You should learn to Predict
Get your spend to constrict
And indulge in some well-deserved bragging,” was just one poem he used during the panel.
When asked about effective use cases for AI, João Pedro Santos, Yvonne Moya and Alex Kaluzny believed that AI can drive strong results in cutting out the complexity of choice during the booking process by providing travellers with the options they want to book based on programme policy and what their preferences have been in the past.
Bots were also discussed as an effective way of using this technology to lessen the travel managers workload by responding to the many requests they receive from travellers.
Keesup discussed how AI can create a seamless travel experience where less manual intervention is needed. Instead of collating receipts and waiting for expenses to be approved, AI has the power to automate this process entirely.
The question on everyone’s lips was, so what do travel managers do about this new AI revolution? What skills do they need to build? Should travel managers be building bots now?
“When you think about something like your phone, most of us do not know how our phone works, yet we are experts at using it,” said Keesup. “Travel Managers need to become expert users, not expert builders of AI-based solutions.”
Our team enjoyed meeting with so many industry experts and all the education on offer at the Business Travel Show. We look forward to coming back next year!