Inside Travel: Understanding the latest technology and industry trend insights

Find it hard to keep track with all the latest insights into business trends, new products and technology advancements in the travel sector? The Blue Swan Daily provides you with an update on some of the key stories from the past week.

  • BCD Travel earns TMC Elite partner level with SAP Concur
  • TravelPerk’s FlexiPerk becomes available in Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and USA after successful Beta test
  • World Travel & Tourism Council findings show a more than quadrupling in global medical tourism demand since 2000
  • Quality management in business travel programmes is hampered by clouded metrics
  • Newly released platform update fuels power for hoteliers to create enhanced personalised marketing campaigns
  • Codeless Platforms uses BPA platform to integrate SAP Concur with ERP and HR software
  • Accelya secures new investment from Vista Equity Partners
  • Airbnb joins the TOP program as IOC confirms major global Olympic partnership

BCD Travel earns TMC Elite partner level with SAP Concur

Travel management company BCD Travel has become the first of the Big 3 TMCs to earn TMC Elite partner status with SAP Concur. Prior to achieving TMC Elite partner status, BCD already was one of SAP Concur’s biggest reseller partners and one of its earliest partners with a relationship dating back to 2001. With BCD’s TMC Elite partner level, clients benefit from a partner that is uniquely qualified with SAP Concur expertise, greater alignment at all levels within both organisations and enhamced optimisation of SAP Concur’s platforms. The SAP Concur Partner Program for TMCs consists of three levels: TMC Elite, TMC Select and TMC Partner. TMC Elite partners have demonstrated the most comprehensive TMC aptitude among program participants, it explains.


TravelPerk’s FlexiPerk becomes available in Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and USA after successful Beta test

TravelPerk has revealed that FlexiPerk, a new product that gives business travellers unprecedented flexibility to cancel and get a refund on any booking for any reason, is now available to customers in the US, UK, Germany, and Spain. It says that since FlexiPerk’s Beta launch was announced, over 300 companies have applied to use the service. Over the past four months, FlexiPerk has been successfully used by a number of these companies, saving them tens of thousands of euros compared to what they would have spent on more expensive flexible fares and cancellation fees, according to the company. FlexiPerk works by automatically making every booking refundable, at below normal rates. With a service fee of just 10% per trip, companies gain the flexibility to cancel and a guaranteed refund of at least 90% on any booking.


World Travel & Tourism Council findings show a more than quadrupling in global medical tourism demand since 2000

A new study from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows spending on medical tourism products and services grew by +358% in nominal terms between 2000 and 2017, increasing from USD2.4 billion to USD11 billion. The staggering growth of the sector is lead by the US market both in terms of both inbound and outbound spending. The report, ‘A Prescription for a Healthier Economy’, shows this growth resulted in spending on medical tourism reaching 1.2% of international visitor spending in 2017, compared to just 0.6% in 2000. According to the report, the US represents one fifth (20%) of the market, with US citizens spending USD2.3 billion on medical tourism services abroad in 2017. After the US, Kuwait is the second largest source market for outbound medical tourism, spending over USD1.5 billion in 2015, largely due to its government policy of supporting and financing medical procedures abroad. Nigeria is the third largest outbound source market, spending USD783 million on medical tourism in 2017, representing 13.5% of total outbound spend. The US is also the largest destination market for inbound medical tourists, with spending reaching almost USD4 billion in 2017, and representing nearly 36% of global medical tourism spending. In second and third respectively in terms of inbound medical tourism are France (USD800 million) and Turkey (USD763 million). Emerging economies for medical tourism include Thailand, Costa Rica and Mexico, according to the study.


Quality management in business travel programmes is hampered by clouded metrics

Travel buyers may always working to improve the travel experience for their organisations and employees, but a new study published by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with BCD Travel, shows that the metrics best suited for evaluating the success of the holistic travel experience remain misunderstood and, as a result, are crucially underutilised. ‘The Quality Management in Business Travel 2.0’ study finds that travel buyers are suggesting a lack of reliable data is a key obstacle to better quality measurement in business travel. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents said that many important metrics are difficult to measure accurately. Available data, they said, can be fragmented (29%) and unreliable (21%). As a result, buyers are left having to draw conclusions from incomplete data sets, creating a greater margin of error when making changes to the travel programme. Overall, this study found that travel managers are deeply committed to improving their travel programmes, and generally agree on where they want to go – but they still need help on how to get there.


Newly released platform update fuels power for hoteliers to create enhanced personalised marketing campaigns

Fuel, a provider of hotel marketing software and digital agency services for the hospitality sector, has announced the launch of a powerful new feature set that has been integrated into its AI-powered cross-channel marketing and customer engagement solution. Powered by Blueshift, the patented platform works by aggregating guest data from every hotel system touchpoint and making it actionable, in order to create more personalised guest engagement and maximise deliverability of all guest communications. The new in-app features integrated into the latest release of the platform include a set of easy-to-use mobile messaging and marketing tools. Mobile messaging allows hotels to easily create and optimise personalised in-app messaging, allowing them to deepen guest engagement and drive action with contextual timely communications. Mobile marketing features are designed to create rich, connected mobile experiences for the guest by personalising every touchpoint. This is accomplished through a new in-app campaign builder that is based on a robust template library, making it easy to understand and implement automated messaging campaigns. The campaign builder features drag-and-drop functionality and an open-source liquid editor to dynamically pull data and customise recommendations.


Codeless Platforms uses BPA platform to integrate SAP Concur with ERP and HR software

Codeless Platforms has signed a partnership deal with travel and expense management projects and services specialist TMCON Inc, a partner of SAP Concur Partner. TMCON will be using BPA Platform to build sophisticated interfaces for its clients, allowing them to connect SAP Concur with their HR and ERP platforms (SAP Business One, SAP HANA, SAP R/3), where previously they had to rely on ‘home-made’ interfaces. TMCON has been providing travel and expense management and SAP Concur related services since 2016.


Accelya secures new investment from Vista Equity Partners

Accelya, a global provider of financial, commercial and analytics solutions to the airline and travel industry, has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners, a leading investment firm focused on enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses. Vista’s investment in Accelya is the first made by the firm’s permanent capital investment fund Vista Equity Partners Perennial, which is focused on growing industry-leading vertical software companies through long-term investments in product expansion and feature enhancement. Warburg Pincus will exit its partnership with Accelya upon its sale to Vista, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.


Airbnb joins the TOP program as IOC confirms major global Olympic partnership

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Airbnb have announced a significant new agreement to support the Olympic Movement through to 2028. The nine-year, five-Games (covering Olympic and Paralympic Games) partnership is designed “to create a new standard for hosting that will be a win for host cities, a win for spectators and fans, and a win for athletes,” says the IOC. The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organisers and stakeholders, minimise the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities, it says. The IOC and Airbnb will also launch Airbnb Olympian Experiences to provide direct earning opportunities for athletes. To be launched in early 2020, this new category will offer experiences including everything from the chance to train with an Olympian, to exploring a city with an elite athlete. As a global Partner, Airbnb will now support the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022, the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris 2024, the Olympic Winter Games Milano-Cortina 2026, and the Olympic Games in Los Angeles 2028.