As a travel manager, what is the ONE THING, if nothing else, that you expect of your business intelligence (BI) strategy in the area of travel management? Analysis of business travel spends? OK, we heard it right. Business Intelligence is a broad term that incorporates the infrastructure, applications, tools and best practises that help the business owner to improve decision-making and performance in key business areas through access to data and information analysis. 

As data becomes increasingly available, the different pieces can be put together for deep level analysis. The right business travel analytics in place can help predict future instances with the help of business travel data. The starting point is to analyse your company’s historical and current business travel data, understand traveler behaviour, and finally make informed decisions. Here are four ways by which you can make insightful data work on your business travel programme:

  • Make use of the data whatever available: credit card data, expense data out of travel expense management application and transaction data provided by Travel Management Companies (TMCs).
  • Travel data quality is important. Check for the outcomes in context, and where they touch, the underlying transactions and corresponding data.
  • Create reporting standards. This should be applied across the entire travel programme. You can also consult with a travel association or your business travel agency to get the industry-wide data standards that you can readily apply.
  • Extract as much as insights possible from the existing set of data. Map the past to the present and future business insights, talk to your TMC on how to further use the data for process improvement until you adopt big data technology.

All said and done, even with a solid business intelligence strategy in place, it isn’t enough if your travel analytics is only about total travel spends and travel bookings made. Without understanding the booking behaviour and travel patterns of your travelling staff, your travel policy’s effectiveness, the efficiency of booking method and the impact of traveler’s behaviour pattern on the bottom-line of your company can all go for a six.

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