Last days in NYC

Thursday (25.5) was a long, but an exciting day. We started the day with a meeting with American Airlines and OneWorld at JFK airport. Even if we knew in advance that we would have the real “business traveller experience”, Mary and I ended up drinking half a liter of water in about 20 seconds before going through security. Such amateurs, heh! But we just didn’t want to give away our precious bottle that we had just got…

At JFK we were introduced to the various services that they offer to business and first class customers. It is crazy how many different “departments” there are at an airline. Somehow you don’t think about it when you travel once in a while. But boy, it’s a big factory and an enormous puzzle to make things work. Impressive. We also got to go for a private tour with a cadillac around the airport in order to understand the services that AA offers to their first class passengers. The driver, a young guy, told us about the traffic rules at the airport, which were very strict and complex. However, safety is obviously crucial among those huge aircrafts. We also had an excellent lunch at the Flagship First Dining in American Airlines’ exclusive Flagship lounge. That salmon… so delicious!

In the afternoon we headed back to Manhattan where we had a meeting with Emirates. Personally I haven’t had the opportunity to fly with them, but having lived in Dubai, the company feels familiar to me. We met with the Director of Corporate Sales and the intern, and they gave as an overview of Emirates’ operations. Emirates differs from most of the airlines in many ways. It’s a truly global airline, focusing on the customer experience. Unlike many other airlines these days, Emirates offers an all-inclusive experience where everything is really included. We also talked about the hot topic that keeps coming up from meeting to meeting: the Global Distribution Systems and the New Distribution Capability. The basic idea with the NDC is to develop a standard among airlines and to address the current distribution limitations. Emirates supports the NDC, because after all, they offer an all-inclusive customer experience that the current GDS is not able to properly visualize, which is something the NDC aims for. We also discussed very current topics, such as the travel bans and the electronic ban. These short-notice bans have of course had an impact on Emirates, but they try to be innovative and take the challenges as they come.

After the meeting with American Airlines, OneWorld and Emirates, we finally had a meeting with BCD Travel. We met with Terence, the Regional Account Manager in the Americas, at the NYC office. To our surprise also Chicka, the Director of Global Talent Management at BCD Travel, was there even though we were supposed to meet him only in Atlanta. I felt like I knew him, even though I had never met him in person before. However, we talked so many times during the recruitment process that it is not a surprise that it felt like I’ve known him since forever. Terence gave us an overview of BCD Travel and the industry. I’m happy to join the BCD Travel family and can’t wait to learn more. We ended the evening with a delicious dinner at Tony’s (di Napoli, haha). Italian food is never disappointing and the company was perfect. A great night!

On Friday (26.5.) we still had three meetings before heading to the airport. Our first meeting was with the Director of Sales from Chrome River. Chrome river is an expense reporting software for corporate travellers. An expense reporting tool is an important part of corporate travel: employees want to be reimbursed without much hassle and the corporate management wants to be able to control the budget and receive reports in order to be more strategic. Our second meeting was with the Director of Sales from Enterprise Holdings, the car rental company. Little did I know about the car renting industry, but the discussions were interesting. I got a lot of food for thought when we discussed the sustainability aspect. For example, we were told that the company would provide more electric cars if there would be the demand from the corporations. However, due to the higher prices and perhaps the “less seamless experience” (e.g. the need to charge the car), there is not currently a big demand. Personally I hope (maybe a bit naively) that this is something that companies will soon care more and more about, and that car rental companies could encourage companies to do so. Wouldn’t a car rental company be able to make the experience more seamless? You would think that with today’s technology possibilities that would be possible. I don’t know to be honest, but the sustainability aspect did not convince me during the meeting. 
Our third and last meeting on Friday was with a start-up company called Bizly. Bizly offers a sourcing and a booking platform for meetings. The owner realized that there was a gap in the industry — it was difficult to find a suitable meeting place and that’s how they got involved in this niche. So, on Bizly’s platform people can find meeting places in only minutes. Start-ups really inspire me a lot and they make me wish I would be as creative and innovative. The meeting with Bizly was our 15th and the last meeting in NYC.

Our week in NYC had come to its end. It was an extremely inspiring week, and I really felt like I learnt a lot. I’m happy we had Kate, the Project Manager at ACTE, as our support. She was extremely helpful as she is so knowledgeable about the industry.

Thank you NYC, it was a pleasure. ❤

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