Data is an increasingly potent tool at the negotiating table. The expectations have moved beyond manipulating headline figures to detailed correlation analysis. Travel managers and buyers are looking at data on total spend, compliance with policy and preferred booking channels, missed savings, advance booking windows and online adoption across several dimensions.
This increased flow of data has given rise to new challenges:
- how can you move from focusing on the volume of data to understanding?
- how can you identify the key data points that might trigger substantial gains in your travel programme?
- how can you communicate with senior management effectively to gain their buy-in?
Data visualisation technology provides a great way to approach those challenges.
Did you know that the human brain processes images far faster than text?
Research at MIT shows that an image can be processed and the message extracted in as little as 13 milliseconds – far faster than text. For those of us spending hours staring at spreadsheets all day, this can be a game changer.
Here is an example. Have you ever tried explaining what kind of music you like to listen to and when? Or even thought about it? You could spend hours trying to explain that you love classical music in the morning, rock music after work and electronic music when you go out. Or you could build a visualisation in minutes of your “music DNA” and get a picture of what you truly listen to that you can easily share. That’s what the music platform Deezer is providing its users.
Why should you expect anything different in other parts of your life including the performance of your company’s travel programme?
Travel companies have been using this technology to enhance their business performance for years. The good news is that this technology is now available to travel programme owners. The benefits of data visualisation in business travel management can be substantial.
Sophisticated and visual analytics platforms, mean that everyone – whether a busy travel manager, a purchasing officer, a finance manager or any executive – can save time and convey the deeper meaning of travel data more easily.
Time-strapped travel programme owners will soon be able to rely on true predictive analytics, using data and insights of past behaviour to make forecasts for the future. No matter whether you need to convince a line supervisor or someone in the C-suite, data visualisation, backed by detailed consolidated data, can help demonstrate what this torrent of travel data is saying.
Empowering travel management through data visualisation and predictive analytics
Forecasting and optimising for the future is ultimately what data analysis is all about. This is true whether you’re a sports fan trying to predict the next World Cup winner or a business professional determining next quarter’s budget.
Actuaries in insurance and pension companies have always known that – they are specialists in modelling complex data from a wide variety of sources to build forecasts and estimate the likelihood of future events, enabling them to set premiums that turn a profit for their companies.
As a travel buyer, you can perform like a high-level actuary statistician, without investing years into a PhD. Data visualisation can provide a clear view of your travel programme performance and total cost of ownership. It will help you uncover hidden patterns, find new opportunities for savings and inspire ideas to increase compliance. Seeing how changes to your programme can directly impact your results, you might ask:
- what if I decrease the advance booking window from 14 to 7 days?
- what if my online adoption for my hotel programme was at 85% instead of 80%?
- how does this affect my total spend and potential savings?
Being able to quickly get answers to these questions will improve the ROI of your purchase cycle and tell the story of how your business travel creates value and can become a more strategic lever for your company.
It’s time for an overhaul of the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Today’s travel manager will tell you: “A data visualisation is worth millions of dollars.”