Skift Take

For corporate travelers, there needs to be more transparency and better established roles of responsibility for open bookings. On the leisure side, travel agencies need to be easier to find based on their areas of expertise.

Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, spoke yesterday at the Skift Global Forum.

Travel Leaders Group is a collection of more than 6,500 company-owned, franchised and affiliated travel agencies worldwide, catering to both leisure and corporate clients. Members of Travel Leaders Group comprise over 30% of all agencies in North America. AAEAAQAAAAAAAAScAAAAJGNjMDdlYzM5LWUzZDMtNDk1OC04YzQzLTNiM2ZmMzMxZTMzOQ

Chacko’s talk on “Emerging Worlds of Corporate and Leisure Travel” focused on the evolution of open booking models for corporate travelers, and the need for better sourcing technology for leisure agents.

Here are the 11 things we learned:

  • The biggest trend in travel distribution is a “much wider range of tools, capabilities and technology, and much more empowered consumers who are highly educated about the travel landscape.”
  • The Travel Leaders Corporate Division is responding to today’s market opportunities in corporate travel with a new business unit called Financial Solutions, which is “primarily in the business of analytics and visualization around travel spend.”
  • Chacko said there’s a tension between business travelers and their desire to use these amazing sets of tools and capabilities that are available to them, while still trying to comply with a corporation’s perspective on policies and rules for booking travel.
  • To reduce that tension surrounding bookings outside corporate-authorized channels, there needs to be more transparency about the processes involved and more defined roles of responsibility for both employees and employers, based on better data collection and delivery.
  • If something goes wrong when a corporate customer books a sharing company service like Uber or Airbnb, there needs to be a clearer understanding and expectation of who’s actually going to solve the problem.
  • There needs to be better mechanisms for how companies collect sharing company booking data for travel reporting purposes.
  • Travel Leaders rolled out a recent mobile tool that allows companies to reach out to individual employees while they’re traveling, when the need arises to message them.
  • The redefining of work and workplace culture today based on technological advances is driving the rise in “bleisure” travel, where people combine leisure and business pursuits. This is especially attractive to Millennials.
  • Chacko said, “35% of OTA (online travel agency) travelers would book offline if they could find a competent agent.”
  • Historically, travel agents have relied on word of mouth. However, the future is based on technology that can connect consumers with nearby local agents specializing in specific areas of expertise. The Travel Leaders Franchise Group Division has rerouted over 50,000 leads in this manner to its 350 franchisee members.
  • Chacko said the planning phase of the travel journey should be considered part of the overall travel experience.

Keep track of all the activity at this year’s Global Forum by bookmarking our #skiftforum tag.


And thanks to all the sponsors that made Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, Amadeus, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.


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Tags: sgf2015, skift global forum, travel leaders group

Photo credit: Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group (right), was interviewed by Skift's Andrew Sheivachman at Skift Global Forum 2015. Skift

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