How can you be certain the data you are utilizing to make decisions related to duty of care, cost savings, sustainability and traveler wellness tells the whole story? What are the risks of siloed data and disparate data sources?

Think on this from a personal perspective: you probably have a household budget and need to know how you are doing versus that budget. You map out your expected income and your expected expenses based on historic trends or desired target spend. When it comes time to reconcile you must start to gather information from disparate sources paystubs, bank statements, credit card statements and cash receipts that are likely laying around. If any of these pieces of information is missing, you have an incomplete picture and have various risks depending on what is missing (e.g., a charitable donation receipt missing come tax time or receipts missing needed details).

You can’t measure, report and act on what you can’t see. You would be making guesses, decisions based on anecdote, and potentially not acting when you should because you can’t see what isn’t there.

The 2nd Largest Controllable Expense

Travel-related expenses are typically the 2nd largest expense for most companies and are usually the first category to face steep cuts in times of economic uncertainty. Compared to the top expense (People Cost/HR), Travel is under armed with the technology to bring together all the sources of travel data easily and seamlessly.

Consider a payroll system: It brings in tax codes from every state and the federal level, integrates with your 401k provider, your HR system and time and attendance system. And the reporting from that payroll system is robust as it has all the integrated data consolidated into a single source.

Why is Travel still relegated to so many non-automated data pulls, requiring manual cleaning and joining the various data sets, manual creating the aggregating reports that give insights to the Travel Dept. and all the stakeholders throughout the company?

Travel data is one of the most challenging data sets to acquire because travel systems are disconnected from each other, the corporations’ ERPs, and internal systems.  If you needed to know the monetary value of all your unused tickets, what would it take to obtain that information?  You would have to gather that information from all your various TMCs globally, and then make a guestimate of out-of-channel unused tickets. That information has true monetary value.

Travel spend continues to be scrutinized and some companies are redefining travel policies to make value-based decisions. Consider this…What if you were trying to define how much every component of a trip costs? You would likely rely on manual aggregation from dirty and incomplete data sets - not an efficient way to measure the whole story or align policies with business objectives.

Between utilizing your existing negotiated rates, seeing the whole trip journey, getting the best information possible to negotiate new rates, tracking unused tickets, etc. there are potentially millions of dollars at stake. When millions of dollars are at stake making guesstimates is not a reliable or cost-efficient way to manage a travel program.

Connecting the Dots and Silos

Most companies have five or six main spend categories: Air, Hotel, Ground (Car/Rail), Meals and
“Other” – the long tail of a trip that can include upgrade charges, ancillary fees, baggage fees, Wi-Fi fees, gym usage, etc. The information that feeds into these categories come from various sources: bookings via a central bill card, direct billing, corporate credit cards, personal credit cards and expense reports.

While each of these components work fine independently without integrating and normalizing this data you are missing out on key elements that give insight needed to manage the category. Without aggregation and consolidation, you will never get to the holy grail of travel data: the actual cost incurred.

Integrating the data from all these various sources is a very complex process and without collaboration alongside travel data experts who can create the infrastructure for the aggregation and data maintenance - I would argue nearly impossible.

Painting the Complete Travel Picture

Not only is collecting the data very complex, knowing how you want to present the insights and findings to the various Stakeholders can be a challenge.

The purpose of gathering data is to be able to provide accurate and valuable insights to drive business objectives and meet goals, and many well intended decisions across an organization are made using travel data. Different stakeholders may have different versions of ‘the truth’ if the data is pulled from the silos rather than from the consolidated data set. When there are multiple versions of ‘the truth’ there isn’t any.

To tease out the importance of a single source of truth, think of the Stakeholders and the decisions they are going to make with the information provided:

  • Travel Manager: Setting overall company policy to control spend and limit out of policy exceptions
  • Procurement: Negotiating supplier agreements based on total spend with a provider (not just reported base spend)
  • Finance: Setting and managing budgets and reporting on historic trends of spend
  • HR: Duty of Care and Traveler Wellness, which are critical ‘live’ functions where historic data is too late to act on
  • Sustainability: Guiding the economic, environmental, and social impact of the company.

These teams all need travel and travel-related information to execute a portion of their responsibilities.

Why it Pays to Consolidate Travel Data

Let’s look at a how the same data can have very different savings. typical scenario: A company with $3M in hotel spend that is preparing to negotiate a new discount rate. On average, hotel leakage (out of channel bookings) is 57% and the average discount rates on a negotiated hotel rate is 5-12%.

  • Company A: Has 57% leakage, negotiates based on the $1.3M reported spend from their TMC and secures a 6% discount rate. Captures the 6% discount on the $1.3M in-channel spend and saves $77.4K per year.

  • Company B: Has 57% leakage, negotiates based on the $3M total spend from their consolidated and normalized data set and secures an 10% discount on the $3M total spend and saves $129K per year on the $1.3M in-channel bookings.

  • Company C: Uses consolidated and normalized data to identify and reduce out-of-channel bookings by half. Uses this data set to negotiate a 12% discount on the $3M total spend and saves $257K per year on the $2M in-channel bookings.

Picture2

By consolidating, normalizing, and utilizing all their data to make evidence lead decisions a company can realize a 3.3x increase in savings. The same approach can be extended to airline and ground transportation negotiations. The monetary value of an aggregated data set is apparent.

Partnering with an expert in travel data aggregation ensures your data-driven policies and decisions are factual-based and not from inherently inadequate and disparate data sets.

When you operate from a single source of truth, not only will achieve greater cost savings, but previously obscured data will reveal opportunities previously unseen.

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