Umbrella Faces ist ein weltweit führendes, modernes und sehr flexibles Profilmanagement-System Tool für Geschäftsreisebüros und Reisestellen. Es verfügt über eine Vielzahl von Echtzeit-Schnittstellen von und zu Systemen wie OBEs, GDS, HR-Systemen, CRM-Systemen sowie Hotel- und Rail-Plattformen.
Das garantiert jederzeit und überall aktuelle Profildaten, reibungslose Buchungen und die Einhaltung der Datenschutzbestimmungen gemäss der neuen EU Verordnung GDPR.
Umbrella Faces wird von über 135 Agenturen in mehr als 105 Ländern eingesetzt.
Sie möchten im Wettbewerb der TMCs und Geschäftsreisebüros die Nase vorne behalten? Die manuelle Pflege von Firmen- und Reisenden-Profilen in diversen Systemen erscheint Ihnen jedoch aufwändig, unproduktiv und fehleranfällig?
Ihr Unternehmen ist international tätig und Sie sind für das firmeneigene Travel Management verantwortlich? Die effektive und verantwortungsvolle Verwaltung der sensiblen Profildaten Ihrer Geschäftsreisenden stellt für Sie eine schwierige Herausforderung dar?
Sie sind ein dynamisches (IT-)Unternehmen, das Profildaten von Geschäftsreisenden nutzt und mit TMCs oder Firmenreisestellen zusammenarbeitet? Sie unterstützen Ihre Partner im Travel Management und bieten beispielsweise eine OBE, ein CRM, ein HR-System, eine Hoteldatenbank oder eine Duty-of-Care-Lösung an?
Steve, I’m excited to have you on our blog. Can you share some numbers on Microsoft’s travel spend?
Absolutely, yes! We have about 100,000 employees and 80% of them travel for work. Currently, our annual spend is:
Our air travel also translates into 3 million hours in the air. Obviously, we have a vivid interest that those hours can be spent efficiently.
How big is your travel management team?
We have 10 internal full-time employees who mostly focus on strategic topics. In addition, there are 12 extended staff and quite a few dedicated resources at our TMC.
Is it correct that you came up with the ideas for the title and role of Travel Technology Manager?
Yes, it was essentially a collaborative idea between Eric Bailey and me to create this role at Microsoft. An important part of my mission is to look for opportunities to pilot new technologies and services.
This also includes our data strategy. It might be interesting for you to hear that GDPR has had a massive impact in the US. Unfortunately, many companies and TMCs are quite late to the game.
Which tech solutions are currently part of Microsoft’s global travel programme?
There are probably more than I can name here! Here’s a good selection:
What are your key projects for the next years?
Please share your thoughts and ideas about traveler profiles! What is reality and what is your vision?
The current reality is that the data is all over the place and very fragmented.
My vision is that a traveller owns his/her own data and is in the driver’s seat when it comes to sharing it. The profile data will be aggregated from all kinds of sources and drive the traveller experience.
I’m quite optimistic that we will get there and tools like Umbrella Faces could play a key role in this development.
The biggest challenge could be the monetisation model as commercial interests might be in the way of a traveller-owned profile. A possible solution to that problem could be non-profit models such as one sees in Winding Tree or ID2020.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live?
I was born and raised in Seattle and still live here, so the Pacific Northwest is my home. But I haven’t been here all my life.
I spent three wonderful years in Austria, where I moved on a Fulbright sponsorship in my early 20s. After returning to the US, I had several stints in other US cities like Dallas.
You seem to love traveling. What were your most remarkable experiences?
My most bizarre travel experience was actually in Switzerland! In my early days, I travelled with a friend through Europe and we were both into punk and grunge. He proposed that we stay with some people he knew in Zurich. When we arrived, I found out that they were squatters and lived in an abandoned building.
Today, I am a big fan of adding leisure to business trips. My favourite destination is the Cote d’Azur in Southern France, to where I’ve fortunately traveled for some Amadeus projects. Nice is such a wonderful town.
Thank you, Steve!
Amber Road is, in the best sense, an unusual name for a corporate travel agency. In this interview, Enterprise Director Matt Lambert explains what’s behind the rebranding of this renowned agency.
Matt, I think Amber Road’s new corporate identity is very well done. What was the motivation behind this name change?
Amber Road was an acknowledgment of the modern contemporary travel partnership company that we have created over the last 3 years. It was also a nod to the 35 years heritage of CTI. In a crowded market place full of
Did the change of owners play a role in that?
In July 2017 Private Equity firm Endless became the majority shareholder of Amber Road. With their investment in technology and our people we are realising our vision to put the heart and soul back into business travel, creating inspired, positive and rewarding experiences. Endless recognised that to stand out from competition and reflect the investment the rebrand was important and were fully supportive of this.
What exactly is behind the name Amber Road?
The Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. As an important commodity, sometimes dubbed „the gold of the north“, amber was transported from the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts overland by way of the Vistula and Dnieper rivers to Italy, Greece, the Black Sea, Syria and Egypt over a period of thousands of years.
Amber Road has historic travel connotations, but equally today, modern trading still travels along various Amber Roads across the globe. Whilst the name has a great heritage, it exudes quality, passion, belief and it has entrepreneurial spirit all of which is what we are striving to achieve.
Infrastructure also includes your travel technology. Why did you choose Umbrella Faces?
Automatisation and seamless technology are essential for us. Our investors aim for growth and so all software must be flexible and scalable.
Profile data is the foundation of delivering exceptional customer service to our clients. It holds the entire configuration of travel technology together. Umbrella was first recommended to us by several of our partners like Travelport, Evolvi, Atriis and eGlobalfares.
It is simply hands-down the best profile system on the market and future-proof technology.
You then used Umbrella for a complete GDS migration!
That was a great opportunity. With Umbrella, GDS migration is extremely fast and easy to do.
The greater effort is then to clean up all the content of the data. That is a lot of work but it is absolutely worth it.
Do you have one suggestion/good idea for Umbrella that you want to share here?
The user interface of client-facing parts of Umbrella could benefit from an upgrade. And we would like to attach pictures of visas and passports to profiles.
Matt Lambert outside of work: Where do you live and what do you particularly like about this place?
I live in a small town named Brough in East Yorkshire. It’s about 8 miles from Hull, the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. This put Hull on the map for visitors and artists and we keep seeing great events here.
What was your most remarkable travel experience?
That was my first long haul trip, where I joined a group of clients on a trip to Los Angeles. We were treated like royalty everywhere and it was truly remarkable. I remember the Santa Monica Boathouse and the Halloween decorations all over the city.
Football: Manchester City or Manchester United?
As a Hull City fan, I have had the privilege to watch them at the Etihad. Manchester football is like politics, a subject I avoid! It is one of the things, however, that makes Manchester a great place to have our Head Office and of course brings travellers to the city for both business and pleasure, or a combination of both if you manage to take in a match.
Our conversation with Paul Gioia (CEO) and Scott Millar (Director, Sales & Strategic Partnerships) revealed a great deal about the awesome TravelTech company from Montreal.
Magnatech is mostly known for its unused tickets solution. The topic is widespread in North America, but almost unknown in Europe. Why is that?
Unused tickets usually have value in both Europe and North America. In Europe, there is the possibility of a ticket refund – so the traveller receives a refund. Whereas in the US and Canada, a credit is issued for the value of the ticket minus a “penalty” when purchasing a new ticket.
With our “Ontrackplus” solution, TMCs and corporates can manage and keep track of these unused tickets ensuring they are used before expiration.
How do you achieve that exactly?
We track all of our customers’ booked tickets by scanning the corresponding GDS queues several times a day.
If a profile tool like Umbrella is used, then all unused tickets will be attached to the corresponding profile. In the case of an OBE booking, the booker will automatically be informed in the event that an appropriate balance is available.
How do you deal with non-GDS bookings?
If a corresponding ghost segment exists, we can also record, manage and report non-GDS bookings.
Do you see business opportunities for Ontrackplus in Europe as well?
With our technology, the often-complicated refund process in Europe can be completely automated. This is something we are pursuing with interested parties.
What other products do you offer at Magnatech?
In addition to our flagship product for unused tickets, we also offer solutions in the following areas:
Which customers are you primarily addressing with your solutions?
Magnatech is of interest to anyone using a GDS or a direct connect solution whose booking data we can read at any time.
We now work with over 30 of the 50 largest corporate travel agencies in the US and Canada.
Tell us about the company history and your participation.
Magnatech was founded in 1990. Paul joined in 2002 and Scott followed 3 years later. In 2016, we jointly acquired the company as part of a corporate restructuring. Paul is the President & CEO as well as majority shareholder.
Currently Magnatech employs 14 dynamic individuals and make up a wonderful multicultural team, which is typical of Montreal’s fast-growing software industry.
Like almost everyone in this industry, you enjoy travel. Which travel experiences have left the biggest impression on you so far?
Scott: It was actually a business trip, on the way back from Atlanta. An ice storm had paralysed all air traffic. For some reason, my flight was the very last one to be cancelled, and I didn’t realise until it was too late. As a result, I was literally the only passenger in that huge airport.
Paul: My family and I recently visited Portugal and became instant fans of the country. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Portugal, its food, its culture and its welcoming people. Albufeira is definitely one of my favourite destinations.
Thank you for the wonderful interview and your hospitality!