The power of data consolidation: how to optimize your business travel program

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The power of data consolidiation: how to optimize your business travel program

By John Trigg, Senior Director, Intelligence & Analytics

As a travel manager, it’s critical that you access a full picture of your travel program to gain actionable insights.

You need to know where you’re losing money or saving it, how travelers are engaging with the program, and how you can get more from the program while staying on budget. In the past, most travel programs have relied on agency data as a key source of insight. But agency data only tells part of the story – to gain a holistic view of your program, you need to take more data sources into account.

The limitations of agency data

There’s no denying that agency data has been useful, but with so much more data available, relying on that source alone means you are missing out, and getting only a partial view of what’s actually happening in your program. For example, we know that a number of travelers book air, hotel or rail off-policy, often thinking they’ve done the company a favor because the option they’ve chosen looks better.

Agency data won’t give insight into those off-policy bookings which can compromise future negotiations. If you’ve arranged to book 500 nights a year at a particular hotel in Chicago, with certain amenities included, and then don’t meet those thresholds, it’s going to be harder to get free breakfasts and room upgrades the next time you negotiate. The same applies to overall travel policy compliance, expense insights, and duty-of-care.

Including rich data sources

When you pull in other data sources and consolidate them, a whole new level of insight opens up into ALL aspects of a particular trip, and how the travel program is working as a whole.

In addition to agency data, here are some of the other useful data sources you could include:

  • Credit card and other payment data
  • Expense data (such as SAP Concur)
  • Third-party flight statistics and data
  • Negotiated contract data
  • Hotel market rates
  • Sustainability
  • Traveler sentiment
  • Departmental budgets

Within those data sources, you can get even more granular. For example, when travelers rent a car from Hertz or National Car Rental, you’ll be able to see car type, mileage, fill-ups and more. For flights, you can gain insight into aircraft types, how full flights are, and flight delays. And you can understand individual travelers’ spending patterns with insight into what your employees spend on the items they purchase directly, or via virtual payment cards.

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Deeper insights from consolidated data

Consolidating multiple sources of travel data allows you to get both global and individual insights, making travel analytics even more useful. Unlock potential savings, identify useful opportunities to fine-tune your program, and even forecast travel trends based on historical data with a more detailed look into your program. Plus, when it’s time to negotiate with suppliers you can ensure your requests are backed with robust data to increase your leverage.

Advito makes it easy to view and understand this data through highly customizable visual dashboards. Some clients are using this advanced data consolidation method to identify and control leakage, where travelers book out of policy, don’t book preferred options, or may not book through the agency at all. Leakage runs at about 25-30% on average for many companies, and can be even higher for some.

Consolidating multiple data sources also provides opportunities to make savings quickly. Rather than looking at each individual component of a trip, you now have the potential to look at activity based on an overall trip or even broken down by different groups of travelers.

Continual travel program improvement

As data is constantly being updated, you always have the insights you need to keep your program running efficiently. Then, you can use these insights to influence behavior change to align with your goals using traveler engagement strategies. For example, you can target messaging within the online booking tool to nudge travelers to the choices that are best for your program – and for them!

Are you ready to go beyond traditional data consolidation and reporting for your travel program? Contact us to get started!

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