by Julie Hanson

20/20 HONOREES – Hal Rosenbluth

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Chairman and CEO

Rosenbluth International Inc.

The travel industry, mired with endless offers and dozens of online brokers, is one of the most daunting industries to get a grip on. But Rosenbluth International’s CEO Hal Rosenbluth relies on technology to simplify the complex web of travel industry processes and to give his clients the upper hand. The result, Philadelphia-based Rosenbluth International is considered a world leader in corporate travel management, with offices in 56 countries and annual sales in excess of $3.5 billion.

Rosenbluth’s philosophy on how technology can help business centers on the idea that technology can take the complex and make it simple. He believes that his greatest contribution is a technology called Dacoda (discount analysis containing optimal decision algorithms). Airlines have very powerful yield management systems, designed to extract the highest price for seat 18C. Dacoda works in reverse by cross-examining clients’ travel patterns with qualifications for discounted airfares. It then lets clients know how they can obtain cheaper airfares. Dacoda has saved frequent fliers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rosenbluth, 50, gets his ideas for new technologies by doing what his customers do: flying at least once a week, and listening to customer concerns. When online travel sites began cropping up everywhere, Rosenbluth implemented a technology that scans those sites and spits out the cheapest airfare. And after 9/11, Rosenbluth sensed the anxiety of fellow travelers and created a suite of security products with the ability to pinpoint a traveler’s exact location and send an emergency message to him via PDA or cell phone.

A contrarian at heart, Rosenbluth is now working on something that would unnerve most executives in the travel business. He is lobbying hotels, suggesting they build videoconferencing rooms so that his clients can reduce travel budgets by conducting meetings via a local hotel room and a high-speed connection.