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Business Travel Analytics: 11 steps for improving business intelligence & performance measurement in travel programme management

3rd March 2015

business-travel-analytics_11 Steps helping to improve business-intelligence-and better measure travel programme performanceFor business travel programmes it is vital to implement the right business intelligence strategy in order to be able to analyse all business travel spend in the most convenient way. Thereby, business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure, tools and best practices that enable you to access and analyse information to improve decision-making and business performance (Gartner 2013). With increased data accessibility, it is easier to integrate all data sources and gain a full picture. Having the right business travel analytics can help you to predict what may happen in the future and make the most of your business travel data. Analysing your organisation’s current and historical business travel data, enables you to better understand your business travellers, and consequently, to better influence their decisions.

For an immediate impact on your business travel programme, there are four main steps you can take to prepare for the big data to arrive:

1. Use what you already have
Expense data provided by your expense management system and credit card data, as well as transaction data from your travel management company.

2. Remember how important data quality is
Consider which questions to ask; look at the results in context and where necessary, check the underlying transactions and according data.

3. Establish reporting standards
Apply reporting standards across your business travel programme (faster quality check and quicker results), potentially, if you are a member, talk to a travel association or your business travel agency about industry-wide data standards you could apply.

4. Draw as many insights as possible from the business travel data you already have
Use past to present and future business intelligence, consult with your travel management company about how to further improve this and be prepared for the arrival of big data.

However, for a robust business intelligence strategy, need to know more than details such as the volume of travel bookings made and total business travel spend. You also need to understand travel patterns and booking behaviour of your business travellers, the effectiveness of your travel policy, the efficiency of booking processes and the effect of your business travellers’ behaviour patterns on the company’s bottom-line.

Therefore, we have compiled 7 key performance indicators (KPIs) for business travel analytics helping procurement and travel managers to measure the success of travel programmes:

1. Average advance booking notice
What is the average lead time and what would be the optimum? Potentially business travel behaviour may have to be changed to improve performance of your business travel programme. For example, you could ask your travel management company for the percentage of in advance procured travel booking expenses in relation to all travel booking expenses?

2. Average business travel spend by category

For example, you could ask your travel management company things like: What are the average rates paid per transaction? What is the average category spending for air, hotels, rail, car hire, meetings & events or ancillary services.  The spend information should be broken down by destination or route of travel.

3. Extent of online adoption

What is the proportion of bookings made online relative to offline bookings? How has your online adoption rate improved over time, for example year on year? You should get this information from your travel management company in real-time for you to track performance continually. Plus, your assigned business travel agency should support you and provide on-going advise on the best ways to improve your online adoption rates companywide.

4. Percentage of business travel spend in relation to gross margin

What is the percentage of your total business travel costs or spend for specific categories relative to your organisation’s gross margin? Consider to benchmark your results with similar companies with the same size, geo locations or structure, etc.

5. Preferred hotel usage rate

What is the percentage of preferred hotel usage compared to all procured hotel usage?

6. Types of tickets purchased
Do your business travellers buy fixed or flexible tickets? Which class of travel do they book? In addition, you could take your analysis further and measure booking volumes by type of service, such as air, rail, or hotel nights and car rental days.

7. Compliance with travel policy (ideally built into your booking process)
Often travel policies aren’t reviewed for years, but should actually be used to measure against your goals, KPI’s, previous travel programme performance and updated accordingly. For example, you could compare change in percentage of bookings made in compliance with your travel policy relative to the number of out-of-policy bookings made per year or over a 3 – 6 month period of time. This helps you to determine your achievements in driving policy compliance. In any case, your business travel management company should be able to support you in implementing convenient travel policies and other points to make sure you don’t have higher expenditure than necessary and may even further improve your business travellers’ experience.

Flightline Business Travel Management: Assisting companies to reduce travel spend through advanced business travel analytics

Being one of the leading independent business travel companies with headquarters in the UK, Flightline Travel Mangement provides smart business travel solutions for companies of all sizes. We integrate advanced business travel technology and superior agent-assisted services for SMEs and larger companies to optimise their business travel. For more support, call us on 0844 332 0174 or enquire online. We look forward to hearing from you.

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