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Top 10 Takeaways From GBTA Convention 2023

  1. AI is Here, But in Infancy: Airports, loyalty programs, chatbots, expense rules, and card fraud are just a few noted applications that are beginning with AI. Labeling is still manual, and way behind the hype, leading to inaccuracies, disconnected information, and hallucinations. We’ll certainly get there – at the moment, the hype far exceeds the real value.

  2. Assisted Computing is NOW: Tools like paper and calculators require foundational knowledge to use (how to write and perform math calculations). Prompt engineers, narrow and focused AI models’ today’s general-purpose technology that will create the most immediate value.

  3. Sustainability Momentum at Full Force: Organizations that are serious about sustainability are setting aggressive targets for scope 3 emissions. Visibility at the department level along with budgetary consequences are moving the needle.

  4. NDC Remains Off-Channel: While some integrations (or consolidators) are in place, most are not yet there with the ability to service these transactions within the managed travel channel. Lack of precise data blinds the buyers to pricing and usage trends for contract management, share shift, and strategic planning.

  5. The Traveler Experience Remains Vital: The hype of tech gains has not removed the focus on creating a superior traveler experience. As suppliers build these into the leisure and loyalty channels, the dissonance will continue to rise against the managed channel. Smart buyers are focused on innovation to create the perception: “Why would we book off-channel when things are so great in-channel?

  6. Personalization Continues to Dominate: Connecting the company needs (policy, suppliers, risk) with your needs (preferences, hobbies, family commitments) is the better mousetrap. While few do this today, all are working towards it.

  7. Labor Challenges Continue: finding, onboarding, and retaining talent remains an industry-wide challenge. While tech will replace low-value transactions (as it should), it’s the high-value transactions that require the most skill.

  8. Integrated Solutions Continue to Rise: More and more new entrants combine booking, fulfillment, payment, and expense to create a single instance for managed travel. While they are not yet large enterprise-ready, their innovation will continue to push transformation with legacy suppliers.

  9. Virtual Payments are Working: many buyers quote more than 95% success (even higher with heavily used preferred properties). Unfortunately, the old issues of recognition, acceptance, and understanding of the system sometimes remain with the hotel front desk staff.

  10. Meeting Technology Aligned with Transient Travel: Tighter integration with business travel is now and yielding the long-awaited synergies toward better supplier management, traveler experience, and process efficiency.


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