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MYSTERY BUYER


DO YOU HAVE A T


HERE WAS A TIME when cinema blockbusters frequently involved time-bombs that went “tick, tick, tick”, causing disposal experts to break out in a sweat as they pondered whether to cut the blue wire or the red one.


These days, bombs go “tech, tech, tech…” There is no denying that in all aspects of modern


life, travel included, technological innovation has brought untold benefits. However, the situation is getting out of hand. We are entering an age of technology for technology’s sake, with potentially detrimental, if not disastrous, consequences. Take airport terminal directions apps – sat-


navs for the seriously stupid. If your travellers are incapable of reading signs for “Departures” or “Gate 32”, they shouldn’t be travelling. Passengers are colliding with one another while staring at mobile phones – what’s wrong with the old-fashioned way-finding technique known as “looking where you’re going”? Only recently, I had to listen to yet another colleague’s hotel key-card tale of woe. Taking the lift up to the requisite floor, he discovered that his piece of hole-punched plastic failed to perform its principal function – namely “opening the door” – entailing a return trek, with luggage, back to the reception desk for a replacement. Whatever happened to keys?


PLAN B?


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO KEYS?


These are minor irritations, but irritated travellers are not what travel managers want – they (and we, and our employers) want “hassle-free” and “seamless” ex- periences to enable them to focus on the job in hand.


TECH-SAVVY TYRANTS


There are more serious implications. Almost inevita- bly, technology has spawned a new breed of criminals – cyber-crime not only affects individuals, who may find their bank balances suddenly and inexplicably depleted, it also affects corporations, like Marriott, which has just admitted that up to 500 million of its customers may have had their personal details hacked.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


We are entering an age of technology for technology’s sake


With so much data online, tech-savvy tyrants can access a lot of commercially sensitive information. Employees could be at potentially life-threatening risk. If a cyber-criminal knows where you live, it’s not just your credit rating that’s vulnerable. Most readers will remember chuckling at David


Walliams’ “computer says no” sketches in the Little Britain TV series, but our amusement was tinged by the recognition that those situations were – and are – uncomfortably close to the truth. These days, our heavy reliance on technology means that when the computer says “no”, there’s nothing we can do but call the IT department. Countering “irritations” is arguably beyond


the travel manager’s remit; if you can’t find your way around an airport, or if your key-card doesn’t work – well, just deal with it. However, we do have a duty-of-care, both to


our travelling employees and our employers, and that means flagging up potential issues and suggesting ways of circumventing or even elimi- nating them. It’s a matter of looking at the worst-case scenarios and working backwards. If the mobile networks or the GDS providers suddenly went down, what is Plan B? We already have contin- gency plans if rail workers go on strike or flights are suddenly cancelled. Technology brings bigger potential problems, and part of our duty-of-care is to address prob- lems before they arise. Let’s not


merely manage crises, we must pre-empt them.


2019 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 45


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