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INTERVIEW


WORDS MAT THEW PARSONS


INCE MAY THIS YEAR, Egencia – the business travel arm of Expedia Group – has hit the road, covering 40-plus cities worldwide as part of its Elevate tour, a series of client conferences. Attending the London event, I managed to sit down with president Rob Greyber for an interview sandwiched between his opening speech and a panel session, which was then followed by a dash back to the airport. With such an extensive roadshow, I’m intrigued by what Greyber gets out of it personally. Elevate is partly a vehicle for promoting a new report published with Harvard: Travel Culture: Your Competitive Ad- vantage in a Global Market (see p34 for more), but what else happens “on tour”? “Elevate is a chance to connect with clients,” he says. “We spend a lot of time with them, but it’s usually about the day-to-day things. This is a chance for all of us to step back and have a dialogue about other topics beyond the latest trend; in particular, aspects of their business. We talk about more of the things that are shaping the industry.”


Greyber says there’s a recurring theme around the macro economy, with clients quizzing: What’s going on? His reply: “The short answer is: we don’t know. If we did, we’d start a hedge fund!


“The second question is around what’s possible in the market today. More and more people are realising that for them to deliver as professionals inside their organisation, they need better tools, better insight, better advice and better actionability.”


Another “big conversation” is around NDC. He often fields questions around whether NDC is something that is action- able today or a discussion item. “Our approach is we’ve been focused on what we can put into code, not what we can put into a press release,” he says. “We have been working not as hard on the PR side as we have been working diligently with partners. We launched our NDC work with Lufthansa in the European market. We’re in active dialogue with other carriers in Europe and we’re working closely with US carriers.”


48 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019


RESHAPING CULTURE S


With the Harvard Business Review report out, Egencia is aligning itself with the theme of “travel culture”, an alignment that seems odd coming from such a technology-orientated TMC. But Greyber believes Egencia does have a voice of authority on this subject. “At the highest level, technology can certainly shape culture... the real question is – how can companies be deliberate about how they shape culture? How can they shape their employee experience using technology?” he says. “Before, if an HR system was written in the 1970s, and just reskinned into HTML, that’s a very differ- ent experience than if you’re using modern technologies, like ours.”


In his opening speech, Greyber reflected


on how starting a career in technology benefits his current role, telling delegates: “I learned very early on; first, how it works, how you actually sit down in front of a computer and get it to solve a business problem for humans.” Now the opposite is true: on the Elevate tour, Greyber spends more time sitting in front of “humans” rather than a computer – but that challenge of how technology can solve problems very much remains in today’s complex world of travel management.


PROFILE Rob Greyber has been


PROFILE Rob Greyber has been president


of Egencia for ten years and has worked within Expedia Group for 15 years. He previously held a range of roles at Sawyer Media Systems, Scient Corporation, Deutsche Bank and Electronic Data Systems.


president of Egencia for 10 years, and worked within Expedia Group for 15 years. Previous roles include VP at Sawyer Media Systems and VP at Scient Corporation, plus roles at Deutsche Bank and Electronic Data Systems


Rob Greyber, president of Egencia, tells BBT why his roadshow is travelling the world to discuss technology and change with clients


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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