Travel Architects: Designing winning corporate travel programs

Unique history and management philosophy at Adelman Travel span generations

With just two employees and a pair of computer terminals, Craig Adelman ventured into the corporate travel business in 1985. The travel industry was new to the Adelman family, but succeeding in business was not.

Craig grew up watching his dad, Ollie Adelman, become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Milwaukee, Wis., building Adelman Laundry and Cleaners into a chain of over 40 locations.

Business acumen clearly runs in the family. Today, Milwaukee-based Adelman Travel is one of the country's top ten travel management companies, with more than 200 employees helping businesses get their people where they need to be in the U.S and around the world.

When he started, Craig Adelman established a simple, concrete principle that still guides the company: save clients money without sacrificing service. Smart, efficient service — with a keen eye on the bottom line — is always rewarded. He'd seen it work in the family business and he knew it could work for his new company.

To deliver on the corporate motto, Adelman uses the Sabre® Red solution.

"At Adelman, our business has evolved into facilitating how businesses communicate inside and outside their organizations through travel and travel alternatives. Our goal  is to shape  the  future  of  managed travel, and Sabre is an important part of that plan," said Bob Chaiken, president and chief financial officer for Adelman Travel. "We've been with Sabre for over 20 years, and they've been an important ally in helping us improve efficiencies and service levels."

In addition to its Milwaukee headquarters, Adelman has service centers in Texas, California and Connecticut. Clients are mostly medium-sized companies with 100 to 1,000 employees. And Adelman's website is a one-stop dashboard for everything clients need to know about their itineraries.

Information central for all travelers

Adelman uses powerful mobile tools from Sabre to keep clients informed about their itineraries. Clients receive last-minute changes of airline gates or departure times through automated phone calls, emails and text messages.

Sabre's corporate booking tool GetThere® also plays a key role in helping Adelman collaborate with corporate travelers. It's a convenient self-service application that also enforces important travel policies.

Technology isn't the only driver of value. Adelman recently began deploying special teams of corporate "travel architects" to help clients manage travel and other business problems. These global travel management consultants know business, and the travel supply chain, inside and out.

"We pride ourselves in solving problems for our clients, and not just travel problems but business problems," Chaiken said. "We look at the bigger impact of what corporate travel does to their business. We want to be good overall business partners."

The travel architects help companies examine overall travel and entertainment spending policies. Clients also get advice on video-conferencing, expense and reimbursement systems, and vendor selection and negotiations.

For example, Adelman travel architects recently helped one client create a charge-back code database so travel expenses could be easily linked back to specific projects. Instead of assigning costs manually, the Adelman-designed database does it automatically.

People & technology making it all possible

A key member of the Adelman team is Ivan Imana, vice president of information technology. He's responsible for finding the best travel technology solutions for Adelman and its clients.

Imana's another example of the high caliber talent Adelman attracts and retains. In 2011, Imana received the prestigious CIO of the Year award from the Society for Information Management. One criteria of the award is contributing to "client-focused innovation."

He's also credited with being the driving force behind information technology that has saved clients as much as 28 percent in year-over-year expenses.

"Our consolidated travel tools are a big selling point for our corporate clients," says Imana. "They need to be solid and we rely on Sabre to power those. We haven't found anyone that does it better than Sabre."

Sabre® Traveler Security® helps clients sidestep, when possible, global weather events such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and other bad weather that disrupts air schedules.

Continuing the legacy

Ollie Adelman died in 2012 at the age of 96, but the Adelman Travel headquarters in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale is a lasting memorial to him. He was a life-long student of great architecture, and was instrumental in the distinctive design of the Adelman building. You can see where the title of "travel architect" probably originated.

Ollie left something else behind that is a legacy to him, and a guide for the Adelman family and their travel management company.  It was a book he wrote about the value of family, character and determination. The title:  All Things Are Possible.

Ollie Adelman's book: written as an ode to family, business and determination.

Staying ahead

  • Adelman Travel was founded in 1985. Has been a Sabre client for 20 years.
  • Significant investments made in creating a one-stop dashboard for clients. Sabre solutions drive much of that.
  • Adelman delivers world class service and value-added consulting, for reasonable fees.

Committed to minimizing the environmental impact of our global operations and to promoting sustainable business practices in travel and tourism. www.sabre.com