To innovate and delight, an ensemble cast makes all the difference

I recently had the honor to introduce Julia Louis-Dreyfus – comedic actress extraordinaire – as a featured keynote speaker at GBTA 2016, the business travel industry’s convention of the year. It was both an honor and a challenge: just how does Julia connect to the world of business travel? What can those of us in business travel – travel managers, TMCs, suppliers, vendors – learn from Julia as a high performer in her field?

Elena and Julia

That we perform at our best when we’re part of a great ensemble cast. That we’re better together. Like Julia, each of us in the business travel industry is part of an ensemble cast. No matter what role we play, when we surround ourselves with other experts, we perform better. Working in lockstep, we can excel in what we do and deliver experiences that delight our audiences.


Supporting cast in T&E

Looking back, when Concur began, we were a cast of one. We sold packaged, then web-based, expense reporting software, entirely on our own. 


As the demands of the market changed, however, we knew we couldn’t do it alone if we wanted to meet customer needs and grow the company. In our second season, and every subsequent season, Concur’s ensemble cast grew and changed, challenged us and made us better. Beginning with early referral partnerships with companies like ADP and American Express, Concur’s cast continued to expand with the acquisitions of Outtask, TripIt, conTgo, GDSX and TRX, allowing us to begin integrating travel with expense for the first time. The launch of the Concur platform just a few years ago has allowed an entirely new cast of characters to join the ensemble. Now travel suppliers, service providers, developers and travel management companies all play a starring role in providing solutions that solve our clients’ unique business challenges. 


Our cast will continue to grow, expanding the value we deliver to customers. During GBTA’s convention, we announced an exclusive connection between Concur and Uber for Business, an industry first. With Uber, we’re giving travel managers a new means of reducing spend while meeting travelers, literally, where they are.    


Our new TripLink partnership with American Airlines means travel managers can automatically capture bookings made directly on and other channels – for full visibility, better negotiating power and improved employee safety.  


Your ensemble cast

Today’s Travel Managers are directors of their company’s Travel Management show, working to provide their audience positive, hassle-free experiences but this doesn’t mean they’re a one person show.  If the travelers are their audience and the CFO is their network boss, we want them to think of the Concur travel and expense ecosystem as their well-rehearsed ensemble cast – telling their story no matter how the traveler is watching.


And, who knows what the Travel Manager’s story will be in a few years?  Using optical character recognition to capture and submit receipts on a phone will be old news by then and travelers will expect virtual reality tours of a company’s preferred properties. 


This is what makes our industry so exciting and why Concur was a proud sponsor of GBTA’s annual convention…a great opportunity to support the community of travel managers; to listen, learn, cheer them on, give them the tools they need to make a difference for their companies and travelers and be their supporting cast.

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