With budgets under more strain than ever before, it’s vital to keep an eye on all company spend, including travel. The amount of data can be overwhelming, but by using the right tools and asking the right questions, you can you start to identify trends and opportunities to save costs and add value.
“Give us the opportunity to tell you something you don’t know. It’s these insights which give you the chance to change what you’re doing, or do it better,” says James Griffith, SME Finance Business Partner, Corporate Traveller Australia.
By knowing where you are now you can better prepare for the next wave of travel at your company. Together, we will build a smarter return to travel.
Data = visibility
It’s critical to have data to understand what has been spent and where, and what employees achieve as a result of that spend.
“Travel reporting is an important tool in your arsenal to measure the success of your program. What you can’t see is often just as important as what you can; the data you see tells the story of your travel program,” says Ruth Ford, National Account Management Leader at Corporate Traveller.
You will be able to assess if people are booking with other providers by comparing costs in a travel management company (TMC) reporting platform with expenses data and General Ledger. TMCs can help to consolidate travel and expense data and suggest actions that can make a real difference.
Make it digestible
A good reporting tool will provide an overview of total travel expenditure broken down into various categories such as air, car, hotel and transaction fees. You can gain overall program insights or drill down to look at departments or even individual traveller trends.
“It’s recommended to keep an eye on your travel expenditure at least monthly, but you can view your travel program reporting at any time of the day or night. Most customers choose to use the Executive Summary dashboard to give monthly oversight to key areas,” says Ruth.
Data is typically presented in predefined, easy to digest dashboards, as well as a series of raw data reports for those who require more detail. “The more timely the data and the manner in which this data is presented only helps you get to answers quicker and arguably more effectively,” says James.
What can you do with the data?
What you do with your data is driven by the goals and objectives of your team and company. You can measure almost anything with data so start by reviewing spend, then work out what you are really trying to achieve. It helps to have questions that you want to answer, such as whether employees are spending in line with policy, or how seasonal travel is, which may impact cash flow.
You may compare data to generate a league table and start a competition between departments and travellers. For example you could track which departments are booking online vs offline (whichever suits your policy and culture will determine which is ‘good’ or ‘bad’) or measure the difference in average ticket prices.
If you see patterns emerge e.g. travellers are continuously using a particular airline or ride-hailing app, you can assess if a new supplier agreement may be relevant. If you see undesirable patterns emerging, you can use the data internally to understand what is happening, and make policy changes to manage behaviour.
James uses the example of a small privately-owned company whose sales pipeline depends on sales people getting out to customers. They may be interested in travel spend and the conversation rate of face-to-face appointments vs Zoom; this helps them understand if the spend is worth the return. Compare that to a mining company, whose crew are travelling so frequently they may want to consider running a weekly charter instead of booking seats on a commercial airline.
Let’s get going
Both our experts had one simple message: don’t over think it!
“You can over analyse, so the frequency at which you look at the data will depend on how pervasive travel spend is to your business,” says James. “Don’t be afraid to engage with us. By working together with data, we can understand your business and better appreciate your travel needs.”
Grow Back Smarter
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