A deep dive into data can bring valuable insights for any corporate, but that data must be 100% accurate and be processed and managed efficiently if it is to be of use in our digitally transformed business travel world
A TMC that can deliver data that’s squeaky clean, at speed and at a competitive cost is a TMC that will go far in a business travel world today as the industry relies so heavily on data analytics to manage travel spend effectively.
Data provides a travel manager with vital insight into traveller behaviour, whether negotiated rates have been loaded correctly and that they are available. It highlights new travel patterns that need to be acted upon with new supplier negotiations, and when to leverage and drive deeper discounts when analysis shows increased supplier usage; it also gives total trip cost.
Today, data is a vital part of any travel manager’s toolkit in what is an ever-more complex business travel world. Travel management is data management and is integral to optimum performance. However, that scenario is often only theory and not reality for many corporates. Some have to wait up to two weeks for MI reports, which is of no use to the smart travel manager who needs to be agile enough to seize every opportunity and action it without delay.
Data delivery must not only be instant, but also be 100% accurate. Too often human error results in incomplete data as the wrong job codes or project codes have been entered.
Wings Travel Managements’ data provision is marketed as a value proposition based around the company structure of 19 wholly-owned companies. Wings has no affiliates or franchisees so data provision is seamless, available on demand and is of the highest standard because it is held on PULSE, a single global platform across all markets.
“When you start going global, present in 15 or 16 countries, then there is no-one else in the TMC community that owns their own business,” asserts Wings CEO Tony Sofianos. “Customers ask, ‘Who is your partner in Rio’ and we don’t have one as it’s a Wings-owned company that can offer data on-demand,” says Sofianos. “That’s pretty unique.”
Sofianos says that companies are as strong as their weakest link and the weak link is more often than not the glitches that occur when TMCs choose quick-fix expansion plans, taking on franchisees and affiliates who do not share the same technology platform. Furthermore, some third-party technology providers do not provide immediate data release.
Working from different technology platforms in different markets paints an incomplete picture for the travel manager. “If the Aberdeen office makes a hotel booking, the Houston office, for example, doesn’t see those bookings so there is no visibility of data,” explains Chris Martin, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development at Wings.
“We work off a single database globally and have strict processes in place in terms of loading data so it is absolutely consistent,” adds Sofianos. Wings utilises cleansing algorithms which allows the data set to be cleansed immediately.
The fact that Wings has built its own technology is another clear advantage. “We are not dealing with multiple software providers. It also means that the cost of delivery is more efficient as we control it.”
“The fact that Wings has built its own technology is another clear advantage. We are not dealing with multiple software providers. It also means that the cost of delivery is more efficient as we control it”
This is nirvana for corporates with a global footprint as data can be sliced and diced in any number of ways, as country specific or by group spend, for example.
One Wings client present in the UK, US, the Middle East and Singapore is provided with a single consolidated data set, for example. “That’s a huge advantage for them as their incumbent TMC provided four data sets to grapple with,” explains Martin. In another case, of an industry-leading drilling company in the US, Wings provides some 3,000 lines of data and 30 columns of datapoints. “They analyse their data by passenger name, job code, department, airline, hotel origin city and so on, “ says Martin. “We can get to a very deep level of granularity.”
Another client, a large ship management company, analyses their data on a cost per mile basis for all their airline tickets in order to switch to those routes which are the least expensive to fly crew in and out of. “That way they can influence crew rotations and achieve the optimum price,” explains Martin. “They might choose to keep the crew on in the Middle East and rotate them in Singapore, for example, if that works out as a less expensive port of call.” The company undertakes a similar exercise on cost by ship to understand which ships are costing them the most.
Raw data can be made available on demand to corporates if they so wish, or in specific formats. “We can send it direct; it depends on the level of expertise of the travel manager,” says Martin. “Some are happy to pivot the Excel data whereas others rely on the expertise of the TMC.”
Furthermore, Wings does not limit accessibility of the data to a certain number of people. If each of the Country Managers, the Financial Director, Security Manager and Travel Manager all need copies, then that is automatically provided. “We can personalise the accessibility of data to a region, to an individual or by business unit,” says Martin.
WHY GOOD DATA IS VITAL
Travel and Procurement professionals rely on accurate, timely and reliable data to make good business decisions and to run a successful managed travel programme. However, data aggregation and reporting can be a difficult undertaking. It is increasingly challenging to integrate all available data sources to maximise insight and optimise operational and cost decisions.
Source: ‘Data and reporting in the new world order’, from GBTA.
Data consolidation was listed as one of the biggest issues and challenges travel managers face in managing travel in 2020. It ranked seventh in a survey of travel managers, followed by data security in eighth place. Compliance and budget control took the top slot.
Source: ITM 2020 Top Priorities Survey.
Information is the oil of the 21st century and analytics is the combustion engine.
Source: Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Research.