When Carlson Wagonlit Travel rebranded to CWT a couple of weeks ago, I was skeptical it amounted to anything more than some banal corporate positioning. I mean, pretty much everyone already called the company CWT anyway.

So I spoke to CWT’s chief product and technology officer, Andrew Jordan, about how the company has shifted behind the scenes and the cool tech stuff it has been developing over the last few years. The really transformative improvements aren’t here yet, but the technical groundwork is being laid for creating a better traveler experience. Check out the story below.

In other news, Certify and Chrome River have merged to take on SAP Concur. They’re betting that the marketplace wants more solutions tailored to specific needs, not a big one-size-fits-all platform. We’ll find out if they’re right quite soon.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at as@skift.com or tweet me @sheivach

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Editor

Airlines, Hotels and Innovation

Behind CWT’s Effort to Go Digital-First: The future isn’t here yet, but at least big travel management companies like CWT have come to realize the importance of improving the experience of actual travelers instead of focusing on travel managers alone.

Certify and Chrome River to Challenge Expense Leader SAP Concur: The combined Certify and Chrome River still pales in scope when compared to global behemoth SAP Concur. The approach of offering a variety of different services instead of a single platform, though, has potential in a fragmented global market for expense software services.

Overwhelmed Conference Attendees Crave Personalized Recommendations: Conference-goers feel overwhelmed by making choices about which sessions to attend and who to network with. Digital tools featuring personalization can help smooth over these pain points.

Southwest and American Respond to Maintenance Workers’ Public Disputes: It is not rare for an airline’s operation to suffer when a major work group is unhappy with contract negotiations. Pilots and maintenance technicians have considerable authority to defer an issue, or to demand it be fixed right away.

Marriott Cites Growing Pains Following Data Breach, Labor Strikes: Being bigger, Marriott is discovering, may not always be better in the short term. But if the company can weather a massive cyberattack and some debilitating labor strikes, the future shouldn’t be nearly as challenging, executives hope.

The Future of Travel

The AOC Effect Comes to Travel, Whether You Like It or Not: U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal have stirred up debate about the path toward a sustainable travel future. She’s right on time — and hopefully not too late.

Hotels Tap New Tech to Clamp Down on Rogue Rates: Hotels are hiring companies to clamp down on online travel sites displaying cheap rates against their wishes. One of those startups, Fornova, has just bought smaller rival HotelsBI to broaden its rate-detection service. The deal is partly justified by the increasing tech spending on a cat-and-mouse game between hoteliers and providers of rogue rates.

AirAsia Looks to Be an Unlikely Online Travel Agency Competitor: Tony Fernandes’ vision for AirAsia’s digital platforms is taking shape. He wants his airline to be your true travel companion. Watch out, online travel agencies.

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Skift Senior Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Photo Credit: Passengers wait in a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line at JFK airport on January 09, 2019 in New York City. Spencer Platt / Getty Images