No less than 4 specific education sessions PLUS main stage speakers made Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a WELCOME mainline topic. The need for more consistent reporting and transparency to enable buyers and sellers to progress in their journeys is integrated into the sourcing process. Cynt Marshall of the Dallas Mavericks summed it up - “You are invited to the party AND you are to dance”
Sustainability at a Whole New Level
Buyers are finding creative ways to fund sustainability efforts and offsetting, using rebates, NRTs and other soft dollar benefits instead of spending hard dollars. Talk to your supplier partners and find ways to be creative!
AI and Machine Learning are Here
Many suppliers noted the gap between their costs and client fees - creating the necessity for automation wherever possible. The promise of lower costs, 24/7 information availability and instantaneous responses via chat and mobile interaction will be a welcome mitigation to some of the labor shortage challenges.
Suppliers will Stringently Vet buyers
Major category suppliers expressed their labor challenges in responding to RFPs. Just not enough time and resources to say yes to all. Buyers must ensure they permit the needed discovery time prior to RFP issuance to pique and retain their engagement.
Return to Travel is Volatile
Reports of business travel varied widely: from some that are already BEYOND their 2019 levels, to many that are below 50% of 2019. Most expressed January 2023 as the best date to judge.
Technology first Considerations
Programs seem to be tipping from a “TMC first consideration” to “Technology First, then fit in TMCs that can support the technology. Changing demographics portend more digital and less analog interactions.
Traveler Experience is Back in Front
The pandemic pushed (very correctly, we agree!) health and safety to the most, sometimes only, priority. Re-use of tickets and newly instituted pre-trip approvals meant a command and control style of travel management. With restrictions eased and tickets reused, many are putting the spotlight back on traveler-centricity while continuing safety precautions.
Inspiration and Comradery Refreshed
A concerted emphasis was to inspire. One attendee described the conference as a feeling of a warm blanket - comforting and uplifting to see our colleagues in person and re-engaging with a renewed excitement and post-pandemic perspectives. An almost universal opinion was shared: “virtual meetings can’t replace the in-person learning and exchanging ideas.”