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  • Meet Minneapolis: Travel to the Twin Cities this Summer for HITEC 2019

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10 Trends That Will Shape Business Travel and Spend Management in 2019, and Beyond - SAP Concur

SAP Concur ·19 December 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, here's what you can expect in the coming year, and beyond:1. The risks female travelers face will rise to the top of the corporate agendaWomen make up more than 40% of all business travelers and that number is growing. Travel professionals agree that female business travelers face unique risks while traveling compared to their male counterparts, but what are they going to do about it? A recent GBTA report found that only 18% of corporate travel safety policies specifically address female safety needs. Because safety threats impact the well-being and productivity of female travelers, companies will need to place more serious emphasis on ensuring their corporate travel policies address priority female concerns such as sexual harassment, assault, and theft. At the same time, women will take the initiative to demand companies take care of them and this will become a key consideration for talent retention. - Kim Albrecht, CMO, SAP Concur2. Data privacy will fundamentally change product engineeringIn 2018, GDPR fundamentally changed how global technology companies work with user data. In 2019 and beyond, GDPR is now table stakes. Product engineers and developers are looking at how they can deliver both ultimate protection and ultimate personalization. Approaching privacy as a sliding scale vs. a simple model of opt-in or opt-out, opens the door to more possibilities for transparent data collection and machine learning. Concepts such as data washing and a privacy dial can allow users and/or their companies to increase or decrease the type of information gathered by filtering different levels of personally identifiable information. - John Dietz, VP, Concur Labs3. Shifting immigration and tax policies create new pressures on multi-national companiesIn 2019, there will be a growing focus on business travelers as a source of tax revenue, which has created new challenges for companies that send employees to conduct business across state and/or international borders. National and local governments continue to adopt complex worker-visa and cross-border tax rules in response to global trends on the movement of people and products across borders. An employee who spends a certain number of days in a calendar year in another country or state can trigger large liabilities on both the individual and the company, and potentially prevent business from being conducted.For example, in Singapore, tax and immigration authorities are collaborating to check if a business traveler may have triggered a tax requirement during their stay, sometimes leading to temporary detainment at the border. In addition, U.S. states such as New York and California are increasingly performing audits, to identify business travelers who have crossed thresholds that make them liable for income taxes. Companies can also face huge financial liabilities - sometimes in the tens of millions - for violating visa rules, and there are reputational risks when those penalties bubble up in the news. This year, there will be a bigger need than ever before for companies to navigate these complexities and make sure they, and their employees, remain compliant. - Mike Eberhard, President, SAP Concur4. SMBs will gain a competitive advantage by crowdsourcing data insights, thought leadershipTrue to my prediction, we saw technology help level the industry playing field in 2018 for SMBs, enabling them to be more powerful than ever before. In 2019, SMBs will continue to advance thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Due to their size and flexibility, SMBs will use this game-changing technology to gain a competitive edge over larger companies. They'll grow by tapping into their professional networks to learn from thought leaders as well as crowdsource data insights that once wasn't available. SMBs also will become increasingly diverse and we'll see a rise in women, minority and millennial ownership. - Christal Bemont, SVP and GM of Global SMB, SAP Concur5. Business travel booking is still a time-consuming processAccording to prior research, almost 50% of business travelers take between 30 minutes and one hour out of the working day when completing expenses, while 18% spend between one and two hours. We believe that, in the next year, technology --such as bots and machine learning (ML)--will tremendously improve employee productivity. And that's not just for travelers, but everyone involved in the process (e.g. travelers, managers, travelers arrangers, travel agents, travel managers). Some examples include:Anticipatory searches based on calendar informationPre-request approval based historical informationAutomatic classification of business vs leisure expense for trips involving both components (bleisure trips now constitute 10% of all business trips) - Nancy Hang, Vice President, Consumer Travel Products, SAP Concur6. Consumerization of business travel leads to massive shifts in OBTsOver the last 40 years, corporate travel has largely become synonymous with TMC administered booking programs (aka your company's travel agent) reliant on one of a few GDS'. But as travel tools, options, and technologies continue to rapidly evolve for leisure travelers, employees increasingly expect business travel tools to follow suit. In the next year, Online Booking Tools will embrace new content sources to drive adoption, such as Lufthansa NDC Offers, Airbnb, and HRS Hotel Portal. They must also fundamentally evolve their platforms to allow travel managers to capture all bookings, regardless of where they occur, to manage compliance and ensure their travelers are safe. - Doug Anderson, SVP Travel Product 7. Machine learning goes mainstreamA recent report by McKinsey found that while few occupations are fully automatable, 60% of all occupations have at least 30% automatable activities. However, the gains delivered by increased processing power and greater access to machine learning (ML) tools by developers will extend well beyond the automation to include unique data driven insights, greater compliance and improved user experiences. In spend management, ML models that read handwritten tips and totals on receipts will replace legacy technologies like optical character recognition giving companies the ability to analyze and audit spend at unprecedented scale and speed. With the ability to identify patterns and anomalies across millions of data records in near real-time, companies gain the insight and agility they need when improving business processes, reducing costs or deterring fraud. - Tim MacDonald, CPO, SAP Concur8. Hotel content battles heat upNDC airline content will continue to grab headlines, but even more attention and competitive effort will be devoted to hotel content. Historically the source of most managed travel program leakage, travel managers, OBTs and TMCs have long struggled to consolidate compelling hotel content that will keep travelers booking in the traditional channel. In 2019 the TMC's efforts will start to gain traction, as the likes of CWT's RoomIt and BCD's TripSource battle third-party content aggregators like HRS and As long as TMC's efforts are transparent and unbiased, everyone (except hotel suppliers) wins. Travel managers should see lower leakage, TMCs benefit from improved supplier revenues and OBT's generate more bookings. Hotel suppliers, unfortunately, are likely to see their distribution costs increase. - Mike Koetting, EVP of Supplier and TMC Services, SAP Concur9. Closer collaboration between CIOs and CFOs at state and local organizations will unlock fundingAcross the U.S., state and local governments have made clear strides to modernize their IT systems to overcome common challenges, drive greater efficiencies and cost savings, and meet the demands of the 21st century. In fact, the annual GovTech Navigator report shows a steady increase in IT spending among state and local governments, reaching $103 billion in 2018. Despite this commitment to investment in IT, many state and local governments still operate critical workflows using manual processes - many of which are outdated, costly and error-prone, not to mention less secure. The risks associated with these legacy systems are too big to ignore. With taxpayer dollars--and data--at stake, CIOs from states, cities, and counties will need to work cohesively with their CFO counterparts when looking to maximize their IT budgets over the next year. Focusing on making larger investments to support their automated technology projects--from cloud adoption to the deployment of AI and machine learning solutions will be critical. The collaboration fostered between CIOs and CFOs in the coming year will enable state and local governments to strike a balance between their IT budgets and their IT priorities, helping drive greater outcomes for the citizens in their communities. - David Ballard, Sr. VP Public Sector, SAP Concur10. Higher education institutions can't afford to overlook technology as a retention toolUniversity leaders are facing increased financial pressure as enrollment growth slows, and traditional classrooms are evolving into remote locations extending beyond central university campuses. As institutions work to make the most of their limited resources in the service of teaching and learning, technology can tip them over the competitive edge. Deploying more progressive technology solutions will not only streamline campus and finance operations to create cost savings, but will also solve emerging priorities, such as ensuring the safety of students and staff on and off conventional campuses in the event of an emergency. Taking proactive measures to invest in technology that clearly demonstrate their campus values can help attract the next generations of prospective students. - David Ballard, Sr. VP Public Sector, SAP Concur

Plan Ahead to Book Hotel Rooms Last-Minute

SAP Concur · 5 March 2018
The best-laid plans - is there even such a thing when it comes to business travel? Last minute travel is not only unavoidable but inevitable. It is often out of your control - meetings change; flights are delayed or canceled; clients need you. According to a SAP Concur report released last year, these eleventh-hour bookings can cost you more for flights, but last-minute hotel bookings buck this trend. Looking at booking windows of 0 days, 0-3 days, 4-7 days, 8-14 days, 15-30 days, and 30+ days, SAP Concur's 2017 hotel data for EMEA shows that the lowest median rates can be found 0-3 days out, but most rooms are booked 15-30 and 30+ days out. Quite simply, travellers are losing money by booking earlier than when prices are at their lowest.Booking Trends in EMEAFigure 1 is a simple summary of the percentage of room nights booked, by days prior to the stay, for EMEA in 2017. The largest share of bookings is made between 15-30 days before the stay. However, further data shows that the best rates are to be found when booking between 0-7 days before an intended trip, so there is a balance between inventory and price to be struck when booking. Figure 2 charts the pattern of room rates per quarter, relative to the median price in 2017. While booking 4-7 days before the intended stay may save money as prices dip below the average, if you book within Q1, the room rates are already below the median price and will only fall. The significant difference between Q1 and Q2-Q4 is likely explained by the higher rate of travel towards the end of the year, as we found in our previous research around busiest travel days. The savvy traveller could save money by travelling in Q1.Last Minute Bookings for Quick TripsFrom figures 1 & 2, we can see that people booking last-minute rooms are getting a good rate for doing so. Providing further context, the above (figure 3) details the average length of stay for each booking window. Those that are booking last-minute, between 0-3 days before a trip, stay on average only 1 to 2 nights, suggesting that these types of stays could be trip extensions. With the savings on offer, this data could prove the basis for full, slightly longer trips to be booked closer to the time rather than merely extensions - useful information for trips where room availability is expected to be high.Booking Habits in the U.K., Germany, and FranceBelow, we can see the breakdown of room rates for the U.K., France, and Germany by booking window. While the prices across all three countries gradually drop to around the median rate leading up to 8-14 days before booking, interestingly, rates in Germany hold slightly higher than the median until 4-7 days.All three countries then experience a significant drop between 0-3 days. However, prices in Germany are only 13 percent below the median whereas the U.K. sees a larger drop to -26 percent. Germany certainly holds truer when it comes to price fluctuation, but travellers and travel managers would do well to book later there in comparison to France and the UK.City BreakdownWe can delve into this data on a more granular level by looking at the type of hotels that are being booked from 30+ to 0 days before a stay, splitting between high-end, medium and low-tier establishments in London (figure 5), Frankfurt (figure 6) and Paris (figure 7). We define high, medium, and low-tier hotels within each city by dividing the average daily rate into three equal tiers.While prices in high-end Paris hotels see a consistent drop in prices with a slight peak at 0 days before a stay, the average rate is between 50 and 90 percent above the median - far higher than the percentage above the median in both Frankfurt and London and worth avoiding if possible.By comparison, the rates in Frankfurt suggest that travellers who are booking late will opt for a mid-tier hotel, therefore driving up demand and bringing the average price up to within 9 percent below that of the price of a high-tier when booked at 0 days. With the duty of care balance in mind, it could fare travel managers well to bump those on the move into high-tier hotels.For those looking at London, lower-end hotels are noticeably cheaper than the average price in either of the other two cities and hold a remarkable consistency in comparison too - making this a worthy option for travellers with the experience to find a good establishment in that bracket.Scoring the Best Prices, Last-Minute:Despite travellers' best intentions, they don't always have control over how far out they book a room. Therefore, here are some things to keep in mind to get the best room rates:- Book within the cancellation period: A hotel's cancellation typically falls between 24 to 48 hours in advance making more inventory available for lower rates.- Sign up for hotel loyalty programs: Regardless of when you book, loyalty programs often offer upgrades not available to others.- Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. As the data shows, last-minute hotel trends vary from city to city, so use this data accordingly. Plan ahead for times of the year such as November, when last-minute travel is more likely.By looking at this information, one trend stands out in terms of importance: the power of data. This is an overview of all SAP Concur bookings last year in these three countries and cities, allowing us to pull out some important, overarching trends.

New Concur Data Shows Airbnb Business is Growing Quickly Among Corporate Travelers

SAP Concur · 4 November 2016
Concur, an SAP (NYSE: SAP) company and the world's leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions, today released an in-depth analysis based on a subset of Concur customer data representing $77 million in Airbnb spend and more than 320,000 Airbnb expenses over eight quarters1.The findings showed which industries and segments are driving Airbnb usage in business travel. Airbnb usage also showed strong growth over time, including the number of business travelers expensing Airbnb accommodations, which grew 44 percent year-over-year in Q2 20162."Concur travel and expense data shows us that while Airbnb usage is growing across all segments and industries, momentum is strongest among small and midsized businesses and in the tech and higher-ed segments," said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president of Global Products at Concur. "While hotel spend still accounts for the majority of business lodging spend, there's an increase in business travelers exploring alternative lodging, especially during major conferences and events."Concur found the number of organizations using Airbnb increased by 32 percent and overall spend increased by 42 percent year-over-year, from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016. The average Airbnb expense was $242, but average cost varied among major U.S. cities.A deeper analysis revealed:Small and midsized businesses are among the fastest adopters. Small and midsized businesses (up to 1,000 employees) increased spending on Airbnb 38 percent in Q2 2016 compared to Q2 2015. On average, small and midsized companies spent $2,800 on Airbnb stays in Q2 2016, while a small number of organizations spent more than $20,000 in the same quarter.Hotel usage and spend are still on the rise. Use of major hotel chains grew year-over-year, but at a substantially lower rate than Airbnb. In Q2 2016, total business travel spend on major hotels was more than 250 times greater than business spend on Airbnb.Technology companies aren't the only ones using Airbnb. As Airbnb adoption grows, the user base is diversifying. The academic sector is now a major driver of business travel spend on Airbnb stays. In Q2 2016, six of the top 20 Airbnb spenders were universities while eight of the top 20 spenders on Airbnb were technology companies.Business travelers may be blending work and exploration. From Q3 2014 through Q2 2016, more money was spent on Airbnb stays in San Francisco than in any other city. Meanwhile, London held steady at number two in the two-year timeframe, followed by New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Austin, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Sydney, illustrating a growing shift in how employees approach business travel. Business travelers might see Airbnb as a cost-effective opportunity to explore a city's scenic neighborhoods that are beyond walking distance from major hotels.Major conferences are a driver. Looking at daily volume of Airbnb expenses, bookings increase dramatically in San Francisco during's annual Dreamforce conference held in October. In fact, Airbnb usage was six times higher than average during the 2015 Dreamforce conference. Austin is ranked number three in Airbnb spend globally during Q1 of 2015 and 2016, which corresponds with South by Southwest. However, it ranks significantly lower for every other quarter in the two-year window.1 MethodologyConcur gathered Airbnb expense data from common companies in an eight-quarter window from Q3 2014 through Q2 2016. The resulting subset of Concur customers using Airbnb represents $77 million in spend and more than 320,000 Airbnb expenses. An analogous data set for several major hotel chains was also gathered and analyzed.Q2 2015 vs. Q2 2016. Q2 is April, May, and June.For more information on this analysis, please visit


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