Travel Managers & Data: Challenges & Needs
While having data available is nothing new, it has become such an integral part of our daily lives. We can easily track everything these days from our heart rates, the steps we take and calories we burn to recent purchases or gigabytes of data used on our smartphones. Data is also abundant in our work lives and GBTA conducted a study to see what data Travel Managers are using and how they use it.
This recently released GBTA survey of Asia Pacific and European Travel Managers was designed to better understand the data Travel Managers use to make decisions regarding their travel programs and to look at whether the data currently available to them meets their needs and whether there is room for improvement.
The study, sponsored by Diners Club International, surveyed more than 300 Asia-Pacific and European Travel Managers. It showed that the majority of Travel Managers in Asia Pacific (61 percent), believe their organization is successful in utilizing travel data for decision making, such as evaluating compliance and vendor selection, which can lead to cost saving solutions. In contrast, only about 40 percent of Travel Managers in Europe felt the same way.
Approximately 80 percent of Travel Managers in Asia Pacific believe they know how to best maximize data and turn data into action as well as use it to identify the most cost effective and best options when booking travel. Roughly 70 percent of Travel Managers in Europe felt the same way.
In several cases, respondents in Asia Pacific felt they were twice as effective as their European counterparts in utilizing travel data from corporate card programs and Corporate Travel Accounts. For example, Asia Pacific Travel Managers use travel data from Corporate Travel Accounts for reconciliation (74 percent), budget purposes (67 percent) and managing risk and traveler safety (44 percent). In contrast, only about one-quarter of Travel Managers in Europe use data for reconciliation, approximately 30 percent use data for budget purposes and 20 percent use it for managing risk and traveler safety.
Extracting data from expense management systems is another useful source of data for Travel Managers. Usage is similar to corporate card and Corporate Travel Accounts. Total airline and hotel spend top the list of data metrics gathered as 75 percent or more of travel managers say they collect these metrics.
When looking at the challenges side of dealing with data, most companies have not consolidated their travel data from multiple data sources (49 percent in Asia Pacific and 59 percent in Europe). Consolidating data serves as an area for opportunity for Travel Managers in both regions to minimize the challenges of working with multiple sources and formats and out-of-date information.
There is no doubt that data can be an extremely valuable resource to help Travel Managers make smarter decisions for their company and colleagues. We’re already seeing data affect vendor selection and assist in negotiating rates, with the potential for even more benefits in the near future.