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Fact-finding missions for the C-suite that blend business travel, experiential meetings and insider knowledge. What's not to like?

Series: Future of Work

Future of Work

As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.

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A San Fransisco-based advisory firm is seeing more company bosses and their entourages embark on fact-finding trips around the world to gain better business insights.

From keeping up with artificial intelligence trends to managing economic turbulence — or even snooping around for startups — the world is fast-changing and organizations are looking for an edge, according to Neal Hansch CEO, managing partner at Silicon Foundry.

Hansch describes these types of trips as executive treks. “With the world opening back up, we’re seeing more executive and C-suite teams doing executive treks to Silicon Valley,” he said. “They want to come and see what’s the latest, what’s the buzz.” Silicon Foundry, which also runs a co-working hub in San Francisco, is welcoming its “members” from Sydney, Dubai and Sao Paulo alone in February and March.

Corporations aren’t holding back on investing in new technologies, or spending on research and development, despite volatile market conditions according to analytics company GlobalData.

In its latest Company Filings Analytics – Trends & Signals report it found companies were continuing to engage in discussions surrounding potential investments as well.

“In line with the constantly evolving consumers’ needs and preferences, companies are actively seeking to adapt to emerging technologies and remain attuned to market trends,” said Misa Singh, business fundamentals analyst at GlobalData.

‘Insights Don’t Come From a Database’

So-called executive treks should now be on the radars of travel agencies and meeting specialists based in cities known for innovation. Hansch said trips to places like Tel Aviv, Paris, London, New York, Stockholm and Shanghai are also common. And like a business meeting, there’s an emphasis on the human touch.

“When we’re gathering insights, one of our main tools is intimate get-togethers,” he said. “We breaking bread with a dozen people around a private table. Events are a core part of our business … the most interesting elements of information and insights don’t come from a database, they come from conversations.”

Silicon Foundry’s clients include the likes of Southwest Airlines, UPS, EY and Ford. Clients will sometimes be on missions to meet with startups and venture capital firms too if they’re looking to buy a company to quickly gain expertise.

“Over the course of a year, a member’s CEO is coming out to Silicon Valley at some point. We’ll line up up two, three, four or five days of meetings, because they want to meet the tech incumbents. They want to have a meeting with Meta, or Salesforce, or Cisco… and they want to meet the best rising startups.”


A surprising revelation emerged this week when a new report highlighted that just 8 percent of travel managers viewed sustainability as a priority for their program.

But the report, published by the Global Business Travel Association and Spotnana on Thursday, reveals travel managers are spending a lot of time fire-fighting. What do travel managers spend most of their time on? Answering travelers’ questions, and overseeing their relationship with their agency, comes the response.

And some 72 percent were spending more time answering travelers’ questions compared to before the pandemic, with 59 percent more now spending more time overseeing their relationship with their travel agency.

This aspect may clash head on with the big issue in the world of corporate travel right now: American Airlines and its impending move to shift 40 percent of its airfares to direct channels.

If travel managers are already spending a lot of their time dealing with traveler questions, and managing their agency relationships, those in the U.S. can expect to spend longer on this, according to industry experts.

Auditing platform TripBam believes most of the industry, from corporate travel agencies to online booking tools, aren’t ready for the American Airlines switchover, despite having had a decade to prepare for such a move.

“Buyers should apply pressure now to agencies and tech partners to make sure the required modifications are being made to avoid longer-term issues,” noted CEO Steve Reynolds in its March snapshot report. “The industry deserves a nimbler distribution solution or alternative ways to book and everyone has a lot of work to do for that to happen.”
The reasons travel managers aren’t able to prioritize sustainability? Maybe they’ve simply not got enough time, and will unlikely find more hours in the day over the course of the coming months.

10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up

Who and what Skift has covered over the past week: Accor, BizAway, CitizenM, Citymapper, Cvent, Dubai, GPT-4, Hyve, Inspirato, Oyo, sustainable travel, Travelport.

In Brief

Remote Year Expands Destination Roster

Selina’s Remote Year has added Nairobi, Kenya; Tirana, Albania; Florianopolis, Brazil and Montreal, Canada to its list of destinations for 2023. The company, which organizes community-based work and travel trips, will also return to Marrakech, Morocco, after a pandemic hiatus.

ATG Travel Worldwide Adds Five New Members

Netherlands based ATG Travel Worldwide has added five travel agencies to its global network. Two are in the Middle East: they are Al Rashed International Travel, based in Kuwait City, and Al Jaber Travels and Tours, based in Doha. ATG Travel Worldwide has also added Sweden’s Travel Support & Services Nordic; Tokyo Masters in Japan; and Lien Luc Dia in Vietnam. The newly joined international members will take advantage of ATG’s Global Hotel Program, training workshops and annual summits.

France’s BlaBlaCar Buys Klaxit

Car-sharing platform BlaBlaCar is to acquire Klaxit to boost its daily carpooling community. “Although millions of French drivers have already carpooled with BlaBlaCar and BlaBlaCar Daily, there is still a long way to go to bring carpooling to every car commute,” the company said. Klaxit was founded in 2012 and is used by 350 companies.

BCD’s Consulting Arm Advito Partners With Tripkicks

Advito, the consultancy division of BCD Travel, has partnered with travel technology platform Tripkicks to develop a solution that displays air emissions calculations at the point of sale. The partnership leverages Tripkicks’ integration with the SAP Concur online booking tool to display Advito’s GATE4 carbon emissions figures on the air travel search results page. Tripkicks and Advito say they are experts in educating travelers and influencing behavior, by providing actionable insights within booking tools that support travel program goals.

Mint House Appoints New CEO

Hospitality company Mint House has named Christian Lee as its new CEO. Lee, who was previously chief financial officer of Transfix and managing director of WeWork Asia, replaces Will Lucas. Mint House operates over 25 properties across 16 markets.


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Tags: bcd travel, blablacar, business travel, corporate travel, mint house, remote year, san francisco, startups

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