Getting Ready for GBTA Convention

We can’t believe it’s time for another GBTA Convention! Are you ready?

GBTA Convention is always one of the busiest, best, and most interesting conferences of the year – and this year will be no exception.

This year we continued to actively support GBTA through our support and participation in the local Ohio Valley, Chicago, and Dallas Fort-Worth Chapters. We are also proud to support GBTA Ladders.

On Monday, August 5 at GBTA Convention, Tom Lacny is presenting a session on “Auditing Is Critical To Effective Procurement And Contract Management.” Click here to learn more about the session.

You can find us on the Expo floor in booth 2812. We’ll be catching up with clients, sharing news about our recent acquisition of Topaz, talking about our enhancements to TicketTRAK™ and our latest technology.

Interested in setting up a meeting with our team? Click here to let us know what works best for you.

 

Wondering who will be at GBTA Convention from Cornerstone?

Here’s the team heading to Chicago:

Mat Orrego, CEO

Tom Lacny, Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing, & Advisory Services

Bobbi Huber, Global Account Manager

Michael Kell, Director, Business Development

Lauren Wolters, Senior Director, Marketing

 

See you in Chicago!

Join Us At Our Education Session At GBTA Convention

We are excited for our education session at GBTA Convention 2019 in Chicago. This year’s Convention theme is “Evolve,” and our education session focuses on the evolution of the role of the travel buyer and how audits are a critical part of their role.

As travel has evolved, travel buyers are dealing with new types of data and new tools available, auditing provides an effective way to ensure that you have the right program with the right tools. With all the options and choices available today, it’s crucial to make sure yours works for you and your business. The value of auditing has never been more important with the different rich sources of data and new tools available to travel managers today.

Join our session to hear Tom Lacny, EVP, Sales, Marketing & Advisory Services discuss how effective procurement and contract management is a critical part of any program – and why auditing is valuable tool for buyers.

In this session, you will learn best practices for auditing your program to drive comprehensive improvement and savings – from pre-ticketing audit to hotel and airfare re-shopping to strategies for successful implementation of auditing software.

 

Auditing Is Critical To Effective Procurement And Contract Management

Monday, August 5

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM

Room 1578 

 

Interested in learning more, or can’t make the session? Click here to connect with us and set up a time for us to meet.

 

Airfare Audits Demonstrate Agency Value, Travel Compliance

For more than 35 years, Topaz International has been the industry leader in airfare auditing services for global and domestic travel programs.  Each year, Topaz International reviews more than $2 billion in airfares for clients of all sizes, helping to demonstrate traveler compliance and the value of using a travel management company.

“Our clients range in size from under $1 million in annual travel volume to over $200 million across a very broad spectrum of industries,” said Michele Simon, Director, Client Services for Topaz and Cornerstone Information Systems.

Such clients use Topaz airfare audits to verify that travel management companies and travelers are booking the lowest logical airfares and are taking advantage of negotiated rates. In addition to identifying cost savings or missed opportunities, Topaz airfare audits can also tell whether corporate fares and compliance are performing at or above average through the Topaz National Database – an industry leading benchmarking tool that measures fare performance on top city pairs against other companies.

“They have a particularly good and unbiased reputation in the industry,” said one client.

“Our Best Interests at Heart”         

One global professional services firm, which has leveraged the power of Topaz International for more than a decade, uses the unbiased airfare audits to validate that its travel management company is providing the best fares and services to corporate travelers.

For this firm, with more than $100 million in air spend, the audit reports have become a regular component and important feature of the company’s corporate travel management strategy, according to the firm’s director of travel services.

“I receive an audit report every month, and while our agents are particularly good at what they do, there are times when they don’t find the best fare,” the director said. “There are times when Topaz finds better fares for us.”

The buyer views the report online and looks at the statistics, seeing if there were any itineraries that were not compliant, or if the counselor did not find the lowest rates.  “Then I go back to the particular itinerary and see what it is and go back to the travel management company if need be,” the director said.  “It makes us feel comfortable that the TMC we deal with has qualified people and our best interests at heart,” the travel executive added.

Making Noncompliance Nonexistent
The audits also serve as a valuable check on noncompliance on behalf of both the traveler and the agency.  “If I see 3 or 4 passenger name records that are out of policy a month, that’s a lot,” said the director of travel services, whose traveler compliance exceeds 90 percent.  Thanks to Topaz measuring the pulse of corporate travel compliance, “We feel very comfortable that people are making the right decision.”

The buyer praised the thoroughness of Topaz audits in those rare instances when fares booked by a traveler or counselor were higher that other available fares, noting details of “which fare was lower, on what carrier, in what class of service – all of those things you need to know.”

Since no two companies or travel programs are alike, Topaz customizes audits to client needs, allowing them to set parameters for measuring performance and service.

Keeping Agents on Point
While Topaz’s services provide benefits to corporate travel programs, it also translates to benefits for the travel management company, such as validating the TMC’s services to its client, and on occasion, showing room for improvement.  Audits can help identify any issues with travel counselors, evaluate agent performance and pinpoint training needs.

One global project specialist for a travel management company said a Topaz audit “keeps everybody on their toes.”

The audits help to support the value the corporate travel agency aims to provide to clients.

“It’s beneficial to have Topaz auditing because it drives into the travel counselor that you can be on a Topaz audit at any time,” the TMC employee said.  “These things can happen at any time and you have to remain consistent for the client.”

The “Watchdog” Role
In addition to providing the company’s travel department and its travel management company with a wealth of data, Topaz’s known role as a watchdog helps to keep travelers and agents in line.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the audits, the director of travel services at a global professional services firm conducted a trial shifting the audits from monthly to quarterly, and notes, “once you let up, you find people become a bit more careless about it.” By keeping the audits ongoing on a monthly basis, “our travelers know that it’s going to be audited and our TMC knows it’s going to be audited, so it’s a worthwhile investment.”

Another Topaz client at an industrial supplies manufacturer agreed.  “During the audit period, the pressure is on the travel counselors to make sure that they are finding the lowest fares and providing the documentation,” said the global travel manager.

In addition to demonstrating the potency of travel agency services, the director of travel services at the global professional services firm said the audits also show the effectiveness of the travel department to the rest of the company, especially those at the C-level.

“When an internal audit comes our way, and they do every two years, they want to know whether our program and TMC are the right ones for us, and it helps validate that they are,” the executive said.

To learn more about Topaz, please contact Michael Kell (mkell@ciswired.com) and make plans to stop by and see Cornerstone at GBTA 2019.

About Topaz

Topaz is the global leader for auditing and other strategic services to the corporate travel management professional.  Topaz has over 30 years of experience of auditing airfares and other travel related expenditures and supporting travel managers, buyers and agencies to improve performance and facilitate cost savings.  Topaz will assist you in validating savings during these difficult economic times. Cornerstone acquired Topaz in 2018.

 

GBTA Announces Inaugural Volunteer Leadership Sponsor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GBTA Announces Inaugural Volunteer Leadership Sponsor

Cornerstone Information Systems Takes Industry Leadership Role

Alexandria, VA (May 16, 2017) – The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry, today announced Cornerstone Information Systems has partnered with GBTA as the inaugural Volunteer Leadership Sponsor.

Cornerstone has long supported its employees’ efforts and involvement in GBTA through the Committee structure, their local Chapters and at GBTA Convention. Cornerstone CEO Mat Orrego has also been involved in the GBTA Ladders Program since its inception as both a mentor and as part of the volunteer leadership team. “Ladders” is GBTA’s innovative, industry-wide mentoring program connecting business travel leaders with industry newcomers to facilitate collaboration and mentorship, while tackling challenges facing the future of our industry.

Through this sponsorship, Cornerstone seeks to extend that support to volunteers across business travel, and believes GBTA provides the platform to drive engagement that fosters growth and innovation in the business travel industry.

“Volunteers are the heart of GBTA – and together, help to advance the business travel industry,” said Christle Johnson, GBTA President.

“We have been committed supporters of GBTA through the years, and this Volunteer Leadership Sponsorship enables us to further our commitment,” said Mat Orrego. “We have found GBTA gives us a great opportunity to connect with our customers and have a voice in the industry. Through committees and Ladders, our team takes an active role throughout GBTA. Supporting GBTA volunteers means supporting my own team. We are thrilled to take this new sponsorship role within GBTA.”

The sponsorship includes involvement at various GBTA events throughout the year including GBTA Chapter Leadership Summit, GBTA All Committee Summit, GBTA Chapter Presidents’ Council Leadership Summit, and GBTA Convention.

About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA and the GBTA Foundation deliver world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit www.gbta.org.

About Cornerstone Information Systems
Cornerstone Information Systems® is a global technology and services provider that has a unique domain knowledge in the travel industry, from how travel is operationalized to how information is managed. With a foundation in automation, we design, build, and deliver technology for travel companies and corporate buyers. We enable better data and decisions through automation and analytics. Companies managing more than $25 billion in travel spend annually trust Cornerstone to help them proactively lower the costs of travel management and drive revenues through travel optimization. Founded in 1992, Cornerstone Information Systems is a privately held company headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana with customers in more than 50 countries. To learn more, visit www.ciswired.com.

For more information, contact Lauren Wolters.

Lower the Costs of Travel Management By Optimizing Your Budget Planning

It’s that time of year where budget planning is in place and critical reviews of current year spending are being analyzed. When it comes to looking at lowering costs while improving productivity, corporate travel policies rank high on the list. However, no longer can corporations afford the luxury of developing one program suited to all travelers and stay rigid throughout the year on compliance. With the introduction of new technology at an accelerated pace, a “one size fits all “approach no longer works

What is the catalyst for this transformation? In the forefront is the ability to leverage data to provide detailed insights into understanding traveler segments, differences in demographics – Millennials patterns compared to road warriors, statistics on spending outside of policy compliance and more.

For the second year, CWT and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) have produced the 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook, which provides a foundation for discussion as budget analysis and planning begins.

Airlines  

Graph - 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook Airlines

Source: GBTA and CWT 

Costs are expected to increase across all travel segments in 2016. Starting with airfares, 44% of travel managers feel higher airline costs will be responsible for increases in travel budget with the continued rise of ancillary fees being one of the top contributors. The ability to consolidate data related to ancillary fees provides a platform for negotiations with air carriers for the upcoming year.

In some cases, due to the lower prices of oil, airline fees have remained relatively flat, and now there is a fear that the consolidation of players will impact pricing.  According to the study, 54% of travel managers in Europe anticipate negotiated discounts with airlines to remain the same in 2016, while 22% think discount prospects will be worse.

Hotels

Graph - 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook Hotels

 

Source: GBTA and CWT

Another segment expected to see price increases is the hotel industry. Areas to watch out for are a continued push in purchasing ancillary services, especially with the ability to market these offerings in a personal way pre-arrival with mobile check-in. Additionally the push toward a dynamic pricing model, as opposed to flat rate negotiations, continues to rise from the accommodation side. Pursing discounts off best available rate as opposed to offering one flat rate yearly compliments the revenue management strategies of increasing average daily rates at hotels.

When examining policies regarding hotels be sure to also take into account more stringent cancellation policies and the growing number of shared services such as Airbnb and the direct to consumer marketing to travelers by online travel agents.

With demand levels once again increasing in the US, a 4.7% increase in rate is projected in the United States surpassing the majority of the Americas except Venezuela claiming a record 15.2% increase

Ground Transportation

Usually under the radar and not in the forefront of spending accountability, ground transportation is often neglected where this might be the best opportunity for cost savings. Accounting for up to 4-6% of a company’s travel spend, the growing emergence of new players such as UBER can have a significant impact not only on spend but on compliance as well.

As corporations move through the planning process, the most important element is making sure you can see the complete picture by having all the data at your fingertips. We need data to define our travel trends, data to measure trip effectiveness, data to understand our behaviors and activities and data to understand our financial patterns and limitations. Airlines, Hotels, and Car Rentals are beginning to generate this kind of data and repurposing it in a format that is understandable and actionable for the traveler.

Secondly, schedule regular intervals to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your travel policy. Market conditions, new technology, and diverse demographics help guide continual tweaks to standard operating procedures throughout the calendar year.

Finally do not be afraid to re-approach suppliers during the year to negotiate new terms. A company’s dynamics change due to so many circumstances, (signing a major client or losing a major client), that developing a good relationship with your TMC or supplier contact could potentially be the key to tremendous savings.

Cornerstone Information Systems Will Unveil 4site™ and TravelOptix™ at GBTA – Innovation that Helps Solve Industry’s Biggest Challenges

Attendees at this year’s GBTA Convention in Orlando will be introduced to Cornerstone’s 4site™ and TravelOptix™, two new game-changing solutions for travel management companies, corporations, and travelers. Cornerstone, a leading developer of software applications for the travel industry, is a featured exhibitor at the event and will be offering a special preview of the cutting-edge advancements at their booth #827.

The new event-driven app 4site™ provides real-time and contextual trip data directly to the corporate traveler’s mobile device. Registration is enabled through their current agency and travel services provider, making traveler access to the benefits of the 4site mobile app a seamless, hassle-free process. Through traveler messaging and insightful business intelligence, 4site™ administers real-time information including:

  • Itineraries and travel options
  • Trip disruption – both detecting and managing
  • Re-accommodation and agency services

By delivering insights through analytics, TravelOptix™ assists enterprises and their agencies in making informed decisions based on consumable business intelligence. Distributed through designated TMC’s, the solution provides relevant, dynamic and actionable visualizations of an organization’s travel data – and much more. TravelOptix™ enables insights on:

  • Predefined and DYO (Design Your Own) Analytics
  • Incorporate your own Data Sources (e.g. credit card, expense, and HR)
  • Publish Analytics and Story Telling to Stakeholders
  • KPI Monitoring and Trending

“We are setting out to solve two of the most significant problems in the travel industry; trip information, travel disruption and data consolidation,” stated Mat Orrego, CEO of Cornerstone. “We are setting out to solve these challenges with solutions that scale and are thrilled to reveal both 4site™ and TravelOptix™ at the GBTA Convention.”

GBTA is the largest annual gathering of business travel and meetings managers, meeting planners, procurement professionals and suppliers in the world with nearly 7,000 attendees participating in education, professional development, and networking opportunities. Cornerstone designed these new solutions to deliver better analytic visualization and actionable data for their clients.

Interested parties can schedule an appointment at the Global Business Travel Conference (GBTA) in Orlando, July 25-29, 2015 by visit https://www.ciswired.com or can stop by booth #827 to see Cornerstone’s newest innovations.