Providing Context to the Government Travel Space.

Position:Conference notes

Putting the importance of GovTravels attendees into perspective, Mr. William H. Booth, Director of the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), began his keynote speech on day two of the Symposium by telling the audience, "every one of you in this room is dedicated to making sure that those individuals--men and women--that are the pointed end of the spear can execute mission when their mission needs to be executed to keep this nation safe. That's what you do--you're all combat enablers."

Mr. Booth described the impact the defense travel enterprise can have through the example of the SmartPay3 Government Travel Charge Card. When he questioned the audience about who had to receive a new credit card during the recent transition from SmartPay2 to SmartPay3, no one raised their hand. This, he stated, was due to the hard work of the DTMO team.

Mr. Booth explained that there are approximately 1.8 million charge card holders. When the transition to the new program was first announced, each was expected to have to get a new card. This would mean each cardholder spending around 10 minutes to activate their cards, set-up new accounts online and perform other maintenance tasks. In addition, reissuing new cards would have cost Citibank three to five dollars per card. This means DTMO's efforts to eliminate having to reissue cards effectually saved 300,000 man-hours and $5 million.

Implementing seemingly small changes can make a huge difference when you are talking about governance of a $9 billion a year enterprise--and that is one point Mr. Booth emphasized, especially as it relates to work being done to modernize the enterprise. The modernization work is being implemented through deliberate steps forward, and with stakeholders' opinions and needs taken into account.

The second day of GovTravels continued with a panel, Progress Report--Government Travel at the Crossroads One Year Later, led by Mr. Tony D'Astolfo, Senior Vice President, North America, Serko, Ltd. Mr. D'Astolfo gave an introduction to frame the discussion that considered how the most powerful companies in the world--Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and Uber--can impact government travel. Consumers would describe these companies as cool, simple, handy, convenient, personal, fast, smart, etc. He asked the audience to then consider what emotions or words would be used to describe them or the services they provided, and subsequently if they would like to change how they are...

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