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Business Travel Data & Analytics: How to make the most of your travel management data

30th January 2015

Forward-thinking procurement and travel managers know, successful travel management is dependent on having easy access to the right business travel data, at the right time of the right quality to prove the value of your travel programme to the organisation.

Business travel data management & analytics - Flightline Business Travel Management TipsWith managing big data being one of the top 2015 business travel priorities for many companies, we have put some useful points together travel buyers should consider for managing big data so they get the meaningful insight needed to improve their travel management programme and achieve their goals.  According to a whitepaper published by The BTN Group, almost 50% of travel buyers and managers surveyed are already expected to embrace the concept of big data in the travel department or have started to discuss the concept. So, it should not be big news to you that data collation and analysis in corporate travel management has changed over recent years.

How can you get to grips with big data in business travel management?

First, by understanding what the term big data means. Big Data is a term used to describe both structured and unstructured data in huge amounts making it difficult to process using traditional on-hand data management software or traditional data processing tools. Applied to business travel management specifically, big data is about your business travellers and their business trips, including all the digital tracks they leave when searching and booking flights, hotels, rail and other travel services online, purchasing tickets, travelling for business, working or when reporting their expenses.

Collect the right business travel data

There are huge opportunities, not only for cost saving, but also leading to more efficiency and a better strategic sourcing position, enabling travel buyers to negotiate better corporate rates through the abundance of information available from business travel management companies, corporate card providers and GDSs, as well as social networks. But with all that data, it is a challenge to decipher what is important and to translate that massive amount of data into helpful insights and business results. So, before you start to collect business travel data, be clear about your business goals and the type of business travel related information you require to achieve them. Assign a project team of specialists from the relevant departments to make sure you have covered every angle possible.

Make sure your business travel data is presented in the way you need it

Many business travel companies promise to provide comprehensive business travel analytics and reporting. However, the key to making informed decisions based on that data and obtain the business results aimed for lies in the way your business travel data is presented. Therefore, your travel management company should work together with you to make sure you receive the most important data for your business and that it is delivered timely. This is crucial in order to benefit from short- and long-term gains by identifying inefficiencies and reducing business travel cost.

Link your business travel data

Another way to act in a forward-thinking manner is to integrate also important internal data from other departments. For example by linking business travel data, such as total trip costs or behavioural patterns, with those from human resources and sales data, can provide useful insights for measuring the effectiveness of business travel in relation to sales processes. The insights gained may help you to create robust data stories to support you and gain senior management buy-in for shaping business traveller behaviour. For example, by introducing cost saving initiatives such as moving employees from air to rail travel on key routes. You may be able to better compare the number of online sales demos via WebEx or video conferencing versus trips made. With this development, business travel managers move into an increasingly strategic position within their organisation, as they should increase compliance, drive change management and decrease costs while improving the business travellers’ experiences at the same time.

Make sure you have the right data analytics tools and resources in place

Today organisations capture business travel data to support a wide range of defined metrics. However, not all data is created equal—particularly if your goal is to drive sustainable culture change across your organisation, for example by implementing a new travel management company and travel policy. Big data is indeed big and conventional data management techniques cannot handle the large volume of information usually generated from multiple sources. As a result, retooling is necessary for companies to ensure they have the best corporate travel management systems and resources in place to carry out big analytics enabling you to use raw data for real-time analysis. One open-source platform to consider when it comes to Big Data analytics is for example Hadoop with its many ecosystems, such as MapReduce, making it easier to scale and analyse large data volumes in a more cost effective way. So it is important to look ahead and focus on the benefits while beginning to adjust and make sure your travel management department is ready for the era of big data. A change in an organisation’s business, operational and decision-making processes, as well as a cultural shift is required. This also includes finding the right people with the skills and knowledge to support you and being able to fill potential big data skills gaps within the organisation.

Implement Business Intelligence (BI) & use it consistently

Business travel management professionals need to implement business intelligence by making sure that the right strategic, tactical and operational performance measures are used on a regular basis and the results are shared with decision makers and business travellers across your organisation in a timely manner.

Thus, the challenge and opportunity lie in gathering data from various sources and making sense of them in order to gain a complete picture of your employees’ business travel behaviour and buying patterns. This is necessary to benefit from identifying value, effectively managing programme performance, policy compliance, identifying new savings opportunities or spot areas to improve traveller satisfaction. As we all know, knowledge is power and knowledge is based on meaningful business travel data.

 Related articles:

11 steps for improving business intelligence & performance measurement in travel programme management 

How to keep your company data safe while travelling on business?

Flightline Business Travel Management, supporting you in making the most of your business travel data

With over 20 years of experience of observing changes and efficiently implementing them in order to help you benefit from them, we are here for you. We are delivering comprehensive business intelligence and business travel data management solutions. SMEs and larger companies using our online travel management systems and service solutions achieve some of the industry’s highest online adoption rates and business traveller satisfaction rates.

For more information, please call us on 01844 299 750 or enquire online.

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