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Lumo Wins BTN Europe’s Innovation Faceoff

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Flight disruption management technology Lumo emerged as the judges’ top choice at the Business Travel Show Europe’s Innovation Faceoff in London on Thursday.

Lumo impressed the judging panel for having “hit our hearts with machine-learning and predictive analytics, and we loved how your brought that to reality,” Microsoft travel technology manager Steve Clagg, part of the panel of judges, said of Lumo in the presentation of the award. Beyond that, the judges said the scope of capabilities Lumo has built using those analytics made it a standout in the competition.

“A lot of companies, they go for gold in a single pointed solution,” Clagg said. “You took this capability and looked at all these different places and touchpoints in the ecosystem, from the traveler experience to supplier empowerment to TMC [enablement] to corporate program optimization, and you found ways to empower all of them.”

Among those touchpoints, Lumo’s variety of options include a browser extension that can sit above such booking tools as Concur or Cytric and show those booking travel at the point of sale the likelihood that their flight will be delayed. About 10 percent of disruptions can be avoided by making better choices at the point of sale, Lumo co-founder and CEO Bala Chandran said in his presentation. Lumo also is capable of messaging travelers when delays are likely so they can take action.

For travel managers, Lumo is capable of providing a program-wide view of how disruptions are affecting a program, Chandran said. A travel manager, for example, could identify travelers in their program who have had a particularly difficult run with disruptions and pre-emptively reach out to potentially burned-out employees, or identify particular regions or airlines that are having the most problems.

For travel management companies, Lumo has a tool that can identify if a period is coming when a significant number of clients likely will experience disruptions so they can ensure they are sufficiently staffed to properly handle it, he said. 

“Agencies don’t have sophisticated disruption management tools today, and it’s mostly reactive, Chandran said. “This is an add-on where an agent now has more information, getting them prepared for what’s coming down the pike.”

Lumo also works with airlines, helping them with strategies such as crew placement, he said.

The judging panel encouraged Lumo to continue expanding its scope, applying its analytics to areas outside of disruption, like sustainability, which Chandran said is already in the works. “You’ve got all this data and hard-core processing power applied to it,” Clagg said. “We’re excited to see how you can grow and expand use of your analytics.”

That would be a continuation of Lumo’s continually broadening scope since its launch as Flightsayer.

“As someone who has been doing this since 2016, most startups take a full decade to mature,” Chandran said upon accepting the award, “so it’s been a long time coming to get to the point of where we are.”

Judges gave an honorable mention to Eco.mio, a Berlin-based, sustainability-focused startup that integrates with booking tools and helps steer travelers to make sustainable choices. That might be in the form of economic incentives for travelers or nudges, such as showing a photo of the company’s CEO sitting in economy class when a traveler is booking a business-class ticket, said co-founder Sarah Benarey.

The judging panel “loved the approach” and were “really impressed by the input integration, the mere scope of OBTs that you are working with,” Clagg said. “It really differentiates you from other competitors.”

Besides Clagg, judges for the Faceoff included Carine Morin, ServiceNow’s regional travel manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa;  Partnership Travel Consulting founder and CEO Andy Menkes; Troop CEO Dennis Vilovic and Travlr ID founder and creator Gee Mann, the winner of last year’s Business Travel Show Europe’s Innovation Faceoff. Other participants this year included travel management technology provider TripStax, demonstrating its quality control module; ground transportation bookings and expense platform GroundSpan; business travel open API platform Zenmer; extended stay travel marketplace 3Sixty, hotel sustainability data platform Alō Index, corporate housing provider and platform Dwell Optimal; and midmarket-focused payment, expense and travel platform Mesh.



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Your Stories: Online Travel Training’s Legend of the Year Award winner Molly Ritchie

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The group and events consultant at Clarity Business Travel talks to Juliet Dennis about winning the Online Travel Training’s Legend of the Year Award just 12 months after becoming a corporate travel agent



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Amex Sees Double-Digit Growth in Int’l Customer Spending

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Travel and entertainment spending by American Express U.S. commercial customers increased 3 percent year over year in the second quarter, as spending by international commercial customers showed strong growth during the period, the company reported.

U.S. commercial customer T&E spending for Amex totaled $28 billion in the second quarter, equal to the previous quarter and up from $27 billion in the second quarter of 2023. On goods and services, Amex U.S. commercial customer spending was up 1 percent year over year to $104 billion.

Total spending by small and midsized commercial customers, inclusive of T&E and goods and services, was up 2 percent year over year in the quarter, while spending by large and global corporations in the U.S. was flat.

Amex CFO Christophe Le Caillec noted in an earnings call that “we are not in a high growth spend environment, particularly in the U.S.,” though spending volumes are tracking in line with the company’s expectations. He also noted “slower growth in certain T&E categories versus the prior quarter, such as airline and lodging.”

T&E spending by international Amex customers, both consumer and commercial, increased 11 percent year over year to $27 billion. International SME and large corporate spending, inclusive of T&E and goods and services, was up 14 percent year over year, compared with a 13 percent year-over-year increase for international consumer business.

“We continue to see double-digit growth in spending from international consumers and from international SME and large corporate customers, and we are also seeing double-digit growth across all regions,” according to Le Caillec.

Amex reported total revenues of $16.3 billion for the second quarter, up 8 percent year over year. The company’s net income for the quarter was $3 billion, up from $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2023.

RELATED: Amex Q1 results



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Severe Technical Issue Disrupts Flights Globally

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Airlines around the world—as well as medical service
providers, banks, media companies and other businesses—have had their
operations negatively affected because of a global technical outage many
companies reported on Friday.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines were
among the carriers that issued ground stops earlier Friday morning. American
posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that as of 5 a.m. Eastern Time, it had
been able to “safely re-establish our operation.” 

United, at around 6:30 a.m., posted that some flights had
resumed as the company continued to work to restore systems. The carrier issued
a waiver “to make it easter to change your travel plans” on the
United website or app.

Delta at 6:24 a.m. posted on its website that “due to a
vendor technology issue,” it was working to resume operations “as
quickly as possible.” The carrier also was working to issue a travel
waiver to allow customers scheduled to travel Friday to manage changes to their
itinerary via the carrier’s website or app.

Friday’s outage allegedly was caused by a software update
issued by CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm whose software is used by companies
around the world to protect against hackers and outside breaches, according to
a report
in The New York Times
. According
to the Associated Press
, the “disruption appeared piecemeal and was
apparently related to whether the companies used Microsoft cloud-based
services.” This issue follows a Microsoft outage that happened Thursday and
impacted some Microsoft clients in the central United States, according to the
report.

As of 6:50 a.m. Friday, FlightAware data showed that 1,324
flights globally had been cancelled and 17,326 were delayed. American had the
largest number of canceled flights at 244 or 6 percent of its schedule, with
115 delayed. United was third with 128 or 4 percent of scheduled flights
canceled and 127 delayed, and Delta fourth with 107 or 2 percent of flights
canceled and 118 delayed.



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