Page 1 of 2
ACTE President Kurt Knackstedt
To present the perspective of corporate travel buyers and suppliers on business travel, LCT landed its first ever interview with a leader of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.
ACTE President Kurt Knackstedt works as the Global Category Leader for Travel and Expense Management at Rio Tinto Procurement Global Sourcing Services, based in London and Melbourne, Australia. Working out of the firm’s Singapore offices, Knackstedt led Rio Tinto’s global travel and expense strategy with key suppliers to improve the overall Rio Tinto travel experience. A dual U.S. and Australian citizen, Knackstedt holds a B.S. Degree from Indiana University. He became ACTE President in January 2014 and serves until the end of this year.
• • • • • •
Question: What are some of the major trends changing corporate travel globally?
Answer: The biggest trend in the business travel industry today is “Traveler Centricity.” This is a baseline change that begins by acknowledging the business traveler is the primary source of corporate revenue through the sale of products or services. The role of the business travel manager then switches from bean-counting, with a focus on cost savings, to that of assisting the traveler in meeting the corporate objective: profitability. What is the point of saving $280 on a trip, if the traveler missed a $750,000 sale? Traveler Centricity imparts a higher level of responsibility to the business traveler, along with a stronger degree of independence, with the understanding that the overall good of the company is now the prevailing travel policy. The results are abbreviated travel policies, the fine tuning of electronic devices, greater traveler productivity while on the road, and a higher return on the business travel investment.
• • • • • •
Q: How is technology being applied for travel executives and their employees?
A: One of the most significant technological shifts regards the use of personal handheld devices for company business. Business travelers often carry two phones, plus a laptop and a personal tablet when on the road. Many companies now realize the substantial advantage in allowing business travelers to use their personal electronics for work. Many travelers are more proficient in communicating through their own smartphone or handheld. They prefer to use their own gear. The company gets out from under the cost of providing equipment and maintenance, while installing the appropriate software to disable or erase the device if it is lost or stolen.
The subject of travel apps is very pertinent at this point. There are dozens of apps that track flights, announce cancellations, detail traffic delays in and around airports, and allow the traveler to book or rebook arrangements while sitting in the limo, the airport lounge, or standing in line at security. According to ACTE’s most recent survey, 81% of travel managers now allow and encourage travelers to load travel apps on company equipment. 19% still do not. These figures were reversed three years ago.
• • • • • •
Q: How are travel executives dealing with transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft? Are they replacing rental cars for transportation? Black car and limousine companies? Has the ACTE weighed in on the duty of care?
A: TNCs are definitely on the rise. In New York City, Uber cabs outnumber yellow cabs by 14,088 to 13,605. Many executives like being able to summon an Uber cab from their cell phone, and have one arrive a minute or two later. To the executive standing on the corner, in the rain, late at night, or at the height of rush hour, the best solution is the one that gets him or her from point A to point B in the shortest time. Many executives claim a touch screen phone can get a ride faster than standing with your arm up in the street. The rental car and the limo still have their place. It is the convenience of the TNC that is giving it an edge against the industry standard. ACTE would not weigh in on a duty of care issue against a TNC, but ACTE members might, at some point, execute a surface transportation policy dealing with the issue.