Peter Barlow Peter Barlow

Technology with human element: Getting blend right

Blending human service and technology to provide a simple end to end solution is one of the keys (and major challenges) in corporate travel today, says Peter Barlow, managing director of BCD Travel.


‘People still want a traditional service model, but they want it faster and they want a more hands on approach – to be able to do it themselves through an application on their mobile device. But it is not always that simple. There are still considerations such as travel policy, duty of care, data security, blended travel and many others. The challenge is, how do we simplify the solution for the customer in this changing technology space? The customers want to be able to book and change their air and hotel on their mobile any time and anywhere and have it flow through to the (company’s) mid to back office solutions.’ He says the travel industry needs to be better at aggregating on behalf of corporate clients.


BCD Travel is about to launch Trip Source Hotels, an accommodation aggregator that allows the consultant and the client to access a variety of aggregated rates through one dedicated source, not just their own corporate rates. Wellington based Barlow attended BCD’s global conference in Amsterdam earlier this year and has also met in London as a member of the organisation’s global network council. He says that with 13,000 staff and 1500 locations in 1098 countries, the challenges are similar worldwide – with peculiarities in different markets.


‘There is a burgeoning dependence on technology, but there are still many situations that require a human element.’ He points to weather incidents around the world, which can be ‘random and quite devastating’, or at least disrupting, plus extreme like terrorism in its various forms. ‘Travellers still need a sense of security, they need to know there is someone to talk to and someone who is looking after them if they need it. That’s the case with corporate travel but it is the same in leisure as well.’