Daimler’s Burkhardt wins Multinational Travel Manager of the Year

Elizabeth West, executive editor of Business
Travel News, with Daimler’s Bernd Burkhardt

Nearly five years ago, Daimler travel chief Bernd Burkhardt set out to simplify the trip planning, booking and payment process for the German automaker’s travelers. The idea—a three-minute, three-click process—removed much of the complexity from Daimler’s travel management program and helped Burkhardt earn Business Travel News’ 2017 Multinational Travel Manager of the Year award. Burkhardt was honored Dec. 4 at a ceremony in New York.

Known as FiveStar, Burkhardt’s model reduces trip search, booking and expense reconciliation to three steps. Travelers enter the request, confirm trip details and submit the expense summary. Several Daimler suppliers—including BCD Travel, Amadeus and AirPlus—began working toward Burkhardt’s vision by rejecting the assumption that greater choice is always best. They focused, instead, on simplifying the process for travelers. Rather than seeing all available content, travelers get only the most relevant air, hotel and car rental offers based on their historical behavior, corporate policy, corporate supplier strategy and preferences.

Fewer, more relevant choices reduce the burden on travelers, and that saves Daimler about €25 million (about US$27 million) a year, Burkhardt estimates. “We thought the only thing a traveler should have to do in a digital world is to say where they need to go and when they need to be back,” Burkhardt told BTN. “There is no hassle, no struggle, no administration. We can reduce their administrative down to zero. … It’s really all about eliminating all the administrative efforts.”

FiveStar is scheduled to roll out in Daimler’s Stuttgart offices in 2018 and across Daimler globally less than a year later.

Read more about BCD Travel’s role in creating Daimler’s FiveStar model, which eliminates guesswork for travelers.