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Back to The Future for corporate travel. Why it’s time to stop looking at the past to predict the future.

June 7, 2019
Matthew Beck
Matthew Beck

If there’s one thing Marty McFly knew only too well it was that making small changes to the present could have major consequences to the future. It’s something that Senior Travel Directors are also acutely aware of.

Yet, unlike Marty they don’t have a DeLorean to help them fix things. Instead, most are reliant on sifting through often incomplete data from multiple sources in multiple formats to piece together a picture of what’s happened in the past to try and predict and improve the future. From renegotiating vendor agreements to making changes to flights, even small changes can add up to significant savings.

Now, new cognitive software has been launched to make the lives of Senior Travel Directors easier – providing a single feed of information that gives end-to-end visibility and control of travel spend across each business region and division. Finally giving corporate travel program owners the tools they need to be able to run ‘what if’ scenarios, improve compliance, enhanced user experience and better manage overall spend.

The current approach to corporate travel programming is ineffective

Time-consuming: It takes travel teams up to 40 hours each month to aggregate and cleanse the data from multiple vendors. At best, data for the entire journey is only 80% complete with some studies suggesting it can be as low at 40%.

Lack of actionable insight: Virtually all the data that Senior Travel Directors rely on provide a historical look back at travel spend – the what. There is little information about the how or why. As a result, it is difficult to identify actionable insights. Looking back at past spend and adding a percentage to the next 12 months’ budget is ineffective and is no longer deemed an acceptable approach. 

Increased risk: Without insights into spending behaviors, optimizing the corporate travel program so that it delivers the best user experience is virtually impossible. As a result, the likelihood of non-policy compliant bookings often through more appealing leisure sites, increases. This type of leakage puts the employee at risk because they cannot be easily tracked during their journey. It also makes reconciling the journey’s spend more difficult.

Weak negotiating position: Without full visibility of the program, owners find it challenging to negotiate new deals or ensure suppliers are honoring agreements. Missing threshold targets can be very costly.

New tools are transforming corporate travel programs

Recently launched cognitive computing tools are designed to address Senior Travel Directors’ core challenges. They provide a real-time feed of reconciled data, from multiple sources. This allows prioritization of actual expenses and includes/aligns data from TMCs, corporate cards and suppliers to provide end-to-end visibility of travel spend across subcategories, business units, and geographies.

Travel teams can now have a single portal that combines all their data into role-based dashboards providing clear visibility of their complete travel program spend. Advanced analytics then provide actionable insights including what-if scenarios to identify traveler behavior patterns for opportunity analysis enabling better-informed decisions to be made. 

Ultimately, these new tools are delivering the right information to the right person, at the right time. At last, Global Travel VPs have the tools to gain total visibility and control over their corporate travel program – optimizing the platforming, increasing policy compliance and reducing spend.