Umbrella Faces is a globally leading, modern and highly flexible profile management tool for TMCs and corporations. The system features a number of real-time interfaces to and from systems such as OBEs, GDS, HR systems, CRM systems and hotel and rail platforms.
This guarantees up-to-date profile data, trouble-free bookings and compliance with the data protection regulations according to the new EU GDPR regulation – anywhere, anytime.
Umbrella Faces is used by more than 135 agencies and corporations in more than 105 countries.
Would you like to keep up with the competition of TMCs and business travel agencies? But manual maintenance of company and traveler profiles in various systems seems costly, unproductive and error-prone?
Do you have an international company and are responsible for corporate travel management? Does the effective, responsible administration of your business travelers’ sensitive profile data pose a difficult challenge for you?
Are you a dynamic (IT) company that uses business traveler profiles and works with TMCs or corporate travel departments? Do you support your partners in travel management and offer an OBE, CRM, HR system, hotel database or a duty-of-care solution?
Bleisure has become a big, essential part of business travel. Still, many TMCs are struggling with the question of how they can benefit from this mega-trend. Sujester might be the right answer!
Sahil, Sujester is a smart way to support the Bleisure trend at business travel. Can you describe in three sentences what you do?
Sujester uses curated, personalised and interactive content to inspire business customers. We provide a policy-conforming content solution to TMCs to provide to their business travellers to help them discover leisure experiences and decide if they want to extend business trips.
This provides TMCs with additional revenue through commission from experiences and potentially from additional hotel nights.
How do TMCs use Sujester?
Sujester is a flexible content solution that can be easily integrated into TMC websites and apps or as a fully standalone branded web app. TMCs market the Sujester content solution to business travellers before the point of booking.
I’m interested to learn about the size of additional revenues TMCs can generate if they use Sujester
There is potentially a sizeable uplift if a TMC can generate additional revenues for each hotel booking. If a 3-night stay is extended for a full weekend, it can increase TMC revenues for that booking by as much as 67%.
Additional TMC revenues can be generated through experiences and activities.
We’ve also received a lot of positive comments on higher customer satisfaction. Many business travelers are happy to have a one-stop-show for the entire Bleisure trip.
What are the typical challenges for TMCs to benefit from Bleisure bookings?
The typical challenge for the TMC is to educate and inspire their clients. Business travellers are time poor so have little time to decide whether to extend trips. The core challenge for the TMC is to inspire them so they think the destination is worth spending a few extra days in – and that it can be booked in a policy conforming way.
Sujester’s core business is of course still leisure oriented. Who are your customers there?
Our core customers in leisure are travel agencies and tour operators. Over the years we have worked with travel agencies across the UK, in Australia and the USA.
When and where did you start Sujester?
Sujester was started in London in Autumn 2016.
What is your business model?
We have a SaaS (software as a service) business model. We can either charge a fixed fee, a variable fee (depending on performance/use/commission) and a blend between the two.
About you privately: Where do you live and work?
I live and work in London, UK.
What was your most remarkable travel experience?
My most remarkable travel experience was in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Never have I seen so much flora and fauna that was out of this world. The landscapes were like no other, and I had the opportunity to see penguins and flamingoes on the same day. The Galapagos Islands would be the first recommendation I’d make to a nature lover.
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.