Thoughts About the State of Corporate Travel Today

The global economy: There is something odd going on out in the world. There does not seem to be any confidence about where we are headed as a global economy __ and so there is some floundering around growth intentions and driving results. As goes the global economy, so goes our travel-industry space. Is this just me?

Security: Just a crazy thought, but are the people who create the corporate ideals of security kind of going down the wrong path? They try so hard to be secure __ to put up walls that just entice the bad guys to try a little harder and make it harder for everyone else to actually engage in business. Are we putting up too many walls? Can we stop the madness by somehow opening up things more or by thinking differently?

Stop talking about getting better: My wife has a wonderful way of sending me a clear message. She says, "Just stop talking." Not easy for me, but likewise, there are those in our industry who like to talk about getting better at customer service. I have a message for you: Stop talking and start showing. Words mean nothing unless you follow them up with actions. Actions will win our customers back, and they will shout about it.

Alaska/Virgin/JetBlue: I was just wondering if the potential marriage between these three carriers would result in something a little different for our industry __ an airline that offers a unique service that really is better and treats customers like they matter. Or will they fall into the same trap of reducing seat space, eliminating frequent-flyer perks, overbook flights and overall making us feel like crap? I just wonder.

Self-service is dead: The ideal that we can drive self-service to everything is, in fact, dead. Go ahead and argue with me, but follow me on this. The advancement of the global workplace is not built on self-service but on leveraging the abilities and talents of the global workforce to drive increased productivity for workers. If we keep asking them to do the grunt work, everything suffers: morale, productivity, growth, advancement, family and profitability.

The purpose of our conferences: There is a movement toward the redefinition of conferences and their goals and objectives. So why can't our industry try something new and different? For example, TED has taken the 10-, 15-, 20-minute message and honed them to a remarkable art. Imagine a conference driven not by advertising or selling or the 60- and 90-minute keynote speeches by politicians or actors, but 10-minute missives by crazy people like me who have skewed opinions of our future?

Have you heard this one? "My program books 90 percent of all travel through the online tool, so why would we need an audit? The tool is always correct." Can you imagine the look on my face when I heard this one and had to be gracious? What I wanted to say is, "You are nuts! The online tools actually make more errors than people! Yep, you heard it right. So go ahead and keep dreaming."

Airfares are less complex today: Not so much. Just last week it was determined that certain fares booked together vs. separately as one-way flights cost a lot more. We are always playing around with airfares and routes and looking at the best way to obtain the best airfare. But this does raise your costs with your travel management company because three one-way flights cost more than one three-legged trip in TMC fees. So what works for you?

Bradley Seitz is president and CEO of Topaz International, corporate-travel auditing specialists. Learn more at