Highlights from BTN Innovate 2019

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Bizly on stage at Innovate

New York | October 22–23, 2019We had a great time at one of the leading business travel technology conferences in North America. Over 300 corporate buyers in attendance, 13 leading technology innovators presenting, and a vibrant community of hospitality groups, innovators and thought leaders. Some of our takeaways from this year’s big show:

  1. User experience is gaining ground. With presentations by Pana, HRS Invisible Pay, our company Bizly, and TripActions; it is clear that the employee experience is gaining mindshare and importance to all corporate buyers. The consumerization of enterprise technology has undeniably arrived in the corporate travel industry.
  2. But travel management still top of mind for this audience. Travel manager controls still dominated the lion’s share of presentations such as TroopTravel, TripBAM, US Bank, Traxo, and Nina & Pinta. Innovations highlighted automation and intelligence driving manager decision making and workflow improvement.
  3. Data scalability is still evolving. Presentations from BCD, Cornerstone, PredictX, and 30 Seconds to Fly illustrated the importance of data infrastructure and the rapid advancements that are being made to make data more portable and interoperable.

And from the meetings & events world….The Bizly team was in attendance in the educational sessions around the convergence of travel and meetings. This was a highly engaged group with spirited discussions ranging in topics. Amongst our biggest takeaways:

  1. Is convergence possible? The conclusion seems to be “yes, it’s possible, but it’s not always ideal”. Most of the audience agreed that the objectives of travel managers are often very different than event program objectives. For example, travel may focus on cost savings, whereas meetings often focus on revenue and value creation. Being aware of these critical differences is critical to forming a thesis around convergence. The audience also shared deep skepticism about the technological convergence given the fragmented workflows and lack of integration success around a truly end-to-end travel and events experience.
  2. But the back-office is progressing forward. Historically, events are mired in tremendous reconciliation pain that occurs in the back office. Excel spreadsheets re-copied and transferred, hotel bills examined and rectified, rooming lists and commission processes, and the list goes on. Many participants pointed to a shift around systems using more intelligent design on the front-end to alleviate or even eliminate the back office pain. If we could just set things up properly right from the start, like payments, then there may be hope for drastically reducing back-office pain.
  3. Universal contracts. One of our biggest bright spots in the discussion was widespread hope in the audience around universal event agreements, particularly for small and simple meetings. Both suppliers and buyers agreed that they could come to terms on a balanced agreement that works for all — to eliminate this key bottleneck from existence.
  4. Supplier operations are recalibrating around buyers. Many suppliers in the hotel world discussing converging business transient and event operations around providing a single point of service to customers.
  5. Business case. The group discussed how to create a powerful business case to improve travel and events going into the future:- Stakeholder management: building a case study for finance is critical to unlocking resources to move your events program to the future- Self-service: most agreed that moving a large percentage of the events program to a self-service system was key to unlocking the future of the convergence- Data systems: most buyers agreed that organizations should own their own data- moving it out of a supplier system and hosting it in their own business intelligence tool.- Traditional vs emerging tech: Most buyers also agreed that they should own their own travel and event intake forms. This gives the buyer total power over which technology vendors to use. Most agreed that the old days of using a single supplier is over, and finding the right specialist technology is the key to unlocking the future