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Lessons from Travel Management: 2 Big Trends for 2019

Safety for female travelers and the evolution of data privacy in technology applications are top of mind right now for the execs at SAP Concur. Here’s why meeting planners should care.

In December, SAP Concur, the travel and expense management company, published its top executives’ predictions for the new year: “10 Trends That Will Shape Business Travel and Spend Management in 2019, and Beyond” At least two of the execs forecast changes that are squarely of concern to meeting professionals and the attendees they plan for: travel safety for women and data protection.

Female Traveler Safety
Kim Albrecht, the chief marketing officer at SAP Concur, expects the risks to female business travelers to emerge as a top concern in 2019. “Women make up more than 40 percent of all business travelers and that number is growing. Travel professionals agree that female business travelers face unique risks while traveling compared to their male counterparts, but what are they going to do about it?” asks Albrecht.

Pointing to a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association, she notes that only 18 percent of corporate travel safety policies specifically address women's safety needs. Yet, according to another GBTA survey published in October 2018, 83 percent of women say they have experienced one or more safety-related concerns or incidents while traveling for business in the past year.

“Because safety threats impact the well-being and productivity of female travelers, companies will need to place more serious emphasis on ensuring that their corporate travel policies address priority female concerns such as sexual harassment, assault, and theft. At the same time, women will take the initiative to demand companies take care of them, and this will become a key consideration for talent retention,” Albrecht says

Meeting corollary: Research whether your meeting risk-management plans consider the concerns of your female staff and attendees.

Data Privacy
The prediction from Concur Labs’ Vice President John Dietz is a fundamental change in product engineering because of new data privacy regulation. “In 2018, [the General Data Protection Regulation] fundamentally changed how global technology companies work with user data. In 2019 and beyond, GDPR is now table stakes,” he says, a baseline requirement for any application. Looking ahead, product engineers and developers will be working to deliver both “ultimate protection and ultimate personalization,” Dietz notes, and the new approaches, will address privacy on a sliding scale versus simply offering opt-in or opt-out, which “opens the door to more possibilities for transparent data collection and machine learning.”

Meeting corollary: Work with your in-house data team and conference suppliers to ensure that the technologies they use to collect and share data are not just GDPR compliant, but flexible. Consider a “privacy dial” approach that allow users and/or their companies to increase or decrease the types of gathered data by filtering different levels of personally identifiable information.

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