Founder of Travelocity and Kayak, Terry B. Jones “ON Innovation”

Tandem's Experience at The SFIMA Event

Tandem recaps South Florida IMA's June event with Terry B. Jones, Founder of Travelocity and Kayak, on business innovation. Tandem staff are new South Florida IMA board members.

Earlier this month, Team Tandem was honored to attend what was inarguably the best South Florida IMA event yet, featuring the founder of Travelocity and Kayak, Terry B. Jones. The June SFIMA event was the summer kickoff event and the first that Tandem’s Brittni Swenson attended as an official SFIMA board member; Brittni is the Marketing Co-Chair.

The night began with Jones talking about how Hartford Steam Boiler and Insurance Company used to repair steam engines until the invention of the diesel engine. Even though the game changed, the company took the disruption and turned it into an opportunity for innovation by adding insurance to their company model. 160 years later, Hartford Steam Boiler is still going strong. For the rest of the evening, Jones would explain what disruptions are, how they present opportunity, and how innovation can come out of the opportunity.

The following are the key takeaways from the Terry B. Jones presentation, which can be found in full in the SFIMA June event video recap.

1. BIG CHANGE: People began to create their own information and it flowed in two directions rather than one. They started buying, selling, and rating.

“If it can be rated it will be rated” – Ari Kaplan

2. The buyer experience paved the way for the “internet of things”.

3. 90% of online data was created within the last three years; 80% of it is unstructured.

4. That complexity is a great OPPORTUNITY – an opportunity to make it structured and easy for the consumer.

5. Big data is about finding answers.

6. Example: Laser Targeting – A car rental ad follows you around when they see you are booking a flight to San Francisco, sells you the right rental car for the right day, then they serve you an ad for Sea World.

7. Example: WayBlazer – Travel sites say where do you want to go, when do you want to go there, but they don’t say why? Search gives you clues; we give you answers. You are matched with hotels and places that are located by a winery, have a spa, etc. that you are specifically searching for. While there may be 59 million “best hotels in Hawaii”, only three results match your exact criteria.

8. The use of algorithms to innovate and change, otherwise known as disruption by the algorithm.

9. With seven billion cell phones in the world today and three billion nodes, mobility is changing the world.

10. 50% of Priceline bookings are on mobile.

“If you’re not mobile, you’re not playing” – Terry B. Jones

11. Mark Zuckerberg said the last five years have been about connecting all these people, and the next five years will be about all the crazy things you can do now that they are connected.

12. “Somewhere out there is a bullet with your name on it, shot by a competitor unknown and unborn, who will render your business obsolete.” – Harvard Business Journal before the market crashed.

Customers Are a Force of Disruption:

Perhaps one of the main takeaways for the night was Jones’ discussion on consumers. Today, consumers are a force of disruption for businesses and online marketers. They tip the balance of power, their geographic barriers are limited, price information is at their fingertips, and buyer experiences are everywhere for them to take note of before purchasing.

Today’s consumers consume endless products, they crowdsource rather than listen to traditional marketing, and they short circuit traditional distribution by going to intermediaries.

As Jones put, “they vote with a click, they move to a competitor in a third of a second, they live in a world of complete price transparency, and they are powerful.”

Complexity leaves empty carts, leaves you with 4% conversion rates, and businesses put up with it rather than taking the risk to evolve.

Jones empowered South Florida IMA guests to “take a chainsaw to your maze of a business model and make it easier for the customer…. They are internet-powered, tech-savvy, time-starved, and data-rich, socially engaged, and always on.”

Tandem's Alexis and Kimberly with Terry B. Jones
Founder of Travelocity and Kayak, Terry B. Jones.

 Owning the Edge:

“If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less”

– General Eric Shinseki

Businesses must deal with the forces of disruption and remember that technique follows technology. In order to truly be innovative as a business, you must OWN THE EDGE.

Companies like Facebook, Uber, and Air B&B have one thing in common and that is the fact that they own the edge.

Jones explained the timeless phrase we have all heard before, “location, location, location”. Business success used to be all about location. In a world where location is no longer an issue and consumers can purchase from wherever and whenever business is all about owning the edge. The consumer is at the edge and they are not going to be waiting for you.

So where is the edge? Being a business on the edge means marketing for those moments when 50% of people in the grocery store are wandering aimlessly on their cell phones. Being a business that knows 50% of consumers are online shopping while lying in bed at night.

Companies Who Own the Edge:

Amazon pushes the edge with the dash ordering buttons. Owning the edge would be a washing machine that orders its own detergent when it runs out of stock in its dispenser, Brother printers ordering their own refills, and UPS being worried about 3D printers so they put them in their stores. Then, Amazon one-upped UPS by placing 3D printers inside of delivery trucks so that your products are being made while they are already on their way to your home.

Hilton has a new app where you can choose your room from your phone, use your phone to unlock and lock your room, and use it to check-in and check out. Hotels are going to be like banks, who woke up one morning and said “where the hell did everybody go?”

Apps own the edge; Taco Bell’s revenue jumped 20% with their app because people could see the entire menu, and they could take their time to read it and decide what they wanted without feeling rushed at a drive-thru line.

Business Plan on a Rubik’s Cube:

Amazon traditional model:

  1. Buy books
  2. Store books
  3. Finance books
  4. Set the price
  5. Find the clients
  6. Market
  7. Sell
  8. Ship

Then they said, let’s sell used books. We don’t have to buy them, sell them, ship them, we don’t have to set the price and finance them, we just do these four things and add some amazing software. Selling other peoples’ products is now half of their multi-billion-dollar business.

Take your business and put it on a Rubik’s cube, then narrow it down to the most minimal components.

In Silicon Valley there is a new mantra: Step One: Install the software, Step Two: There is no step two.

What’s your new business model? Have your innovation team think: “We have everything in place to be a successful business, but maybe we are not easy enough” – BE EASY for consumers!


Take the Risk:

What is holding you back from dealing with disruption in your business?

Your business needs to be able to accept innovative ideas from everyone on the team, and in the chain of command, including those at the very bottom. Some of the best ideas come from the bottom because those individuals are looking for simpler ways to get their jobs done, on top of handling customer service at times. Ideas can’t be a pinball machine in your business.

With clarity and focus, evolve ideas into a plan of action. Try it. Many businesses say that change is scary, the risk is scary, and that risk may cause damage to the business, but what is really scary is to not evolve and die.

See your business disruptions as opportunities and turn them into innovations that will allow you to own the edge.

***All thoughts, expressions, and quotes came from Terry B. Jones’ presentation; for more information, please visit www.tbjones.com.