The Perfect Trip
President of Business Networks and Applications, SAP
Enabling the “Perfect Trip” through a Globally Connected Travel Platform
When Concur entered the travel business in 2006, we asked what the “Perfect Trip” would look like, and quickly realized that it’s fundamentally about being connected. For travellers, that means seamless travel from planning the trip to boarding the plane to being reimbursed for expenses. For the business, it’s about ensuring a clear and compliant approach for traveller safety, security and accountability.
We’re a lot closer to the “Perfect Trip” today than we were back then. Today, you can go straight to your flight gate using an electronic boarding pass and bypass both taxi lines and hotel check-ins using apps. And in the US, you can speed through airport security and US customs by using TSA PreCheck and the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) on your smartphone. That convenience even extends to travel between the US and Canada via the NEXUS program.
But when it comes to American travellers crossing international borders other than Canada, there’s more to be done. What would it take to facilitate seamless, expedited travel to countries such as Japan, India or South Africa?
Making the Case for an Open Platform Approach
One thing is clear: if we don’t pursue smart, strategic ways to facilitate international travel, we’re in for longer lines and increased risk. According to a 2014 study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of airline travelers will double by 2030—while our infrastructure will struggle to accommodate demand.1
The good news is, we don’t have to trade security or compliance for convenience. Technology—specifically, an open-platform approach—can dramatically increase transparency for all involved in the travel process, while keeping travel secure. This approach will enhance data collection and extend important traveller context by giving travel constituents—vendors, airport security, even governments—the same access to high-value datasets.
In other words, if a person opts in to share their travel information, an open-platform approach will ensure that person’s travel history, credentials and intent are shared from point to point, bridging geographies and disparate systems. Countries that might accept GOES credentials to expedite border crossings, for instance, would have visibility into a traveller’s GOES information and other relevant context. And of course, the more entities agree to participate, the more robust and helpful the system will be.
And if we find a way to standardize that data across different jurisdictions to ensure all the necessary elements are in place for appropriate security checks, we will enhance security, compliance and convenience for all concerned.
We Have the Technology—We Just Need to Build the Trust
To achieve all that, we don’t have to start from scratch. We can adapt today’s technology—biometrics, for example, facial recognition software that has proven to be more accurate than manual verification—to share a traveller’s identity in a secure way, with whomever they choose.
But technology isn’t the challenge—privacy is. To protect the individual’s right to privacy, anyone who opts in should be able to make case-by-case decisions on with whom to share their data and how much data to share.
Earning the public’s trust is vital, and transparency is a must. In order to standardize and collect data, we must commit to continuously building trust with travellers, travel vendors, airports, security teams—even governments. We can earn the trust of those who are accountable for security by being transparent and working with them to build a global standard for data. We can earn the trust of travellers by empowering them with control over who has access to their information.
At the end of the day, this must be a programme on which both travel and security professionals can rely. It wouldn’t be easy, but I think it’s an idea whose time has come.