The power of data: The new corporate travel currency?

Identifying business travel program savings

There’s been a lot of talk about advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Some large technology companies have placed big bets on emerging technologies and many have reaped the benefits. Adobe and Salesforce, for example, moved to the cloud. The use of emerging technology also extends to corporate travel providers. Travel management companies (TMCs) use big data and predictive analytics to guide strategic investments.

In the corporate travel industry, an exceptional traveler experience is crucial and data is the new currency. Data provides an in-depth look at your travel spend through actionable traveler insights. With predictive analytics, companies can mine and analyze travel and expense (T&E) data to inform decision-making around spend, manage negotiated rates and prepare for rising hotel costs.

But more data doesn’t always equate to faster or more insightful answers. It also doesn’t warrant hiring an army of data scientists to deliver those answers. Sabre reported that travel buyers spend an average of 40 hours every month reconciling travel expenses and payment data. Over the course of a year, that’s close to 500 hours, not to mention what it costs the business.

Advances in machine learning advancements can help strip the labor-intensive aspects of data analysis so that travel program managers can spend more time taking action to enhance their programs.

Predictive analytics means agile businesses

Data gives business leaders access to the information they need to make strategic decisions that impact the bottom line. This also helps ensure investments are made in the right areas, internally or with partners. Data is now the backbone of digital transformation for organizations.

TMCs are investing in the power of predictive data analytics to impact travel spend, including:

  1. Spend concentration: Looking at spend concentration in hotel or airline markets globally reveals how much money each region spends. This information can help predict consolidation. Optimizing this data can provide insights before supplier negotiation meetings or influence which markets to target for growth. There’s still some manual work involved in analyzing this data, but the ability to use machine learning to make modifications based on user preferences has arrived.
  2. Pricing predictions: Optimizing inventory recommendations is an effective tactic in negotiating deals and contracts with suppliers. The level of detailed data is more granular to help with rate and policy negotiations.
  3. Expense: Overall advancements in technology, specifically machine learning, can significantly cut costs for organizations in the corporate travel space. In addition to reducing the time needed for consolidation, machine learning can provide insight into travel spend by analyzing past trends, observing current trends and predicting decisions for total spend in the future.
  4. Traveler risk management: The ability to forecast travel disruptions such as weather patterns or which airports and routes have the most delays can help travel managers address customer’s concerns. Predictive analytics is in use with companies like Amazon and hoteliers Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels Group, according to EyeForTravel’s “Bringing Predictive Analytics to the Hotel Industry” white paper. This technology will continue to become more and more expect efficient.
The future of data with AI

AI is transforming how previous processes worked. There’s no longer a reliance on historical data as AI and machine learning deliver benefits that include internal efficiencies and understanding users’ preferences. This helps to pave the way for services like chatbots and other personalized option for users.

These emerging technologies offer promise, especially how companies work with their employees and partners. We envision a world where AI allows companies to predict and resolve travel issues based on traveler behavior, lets travelers better leverage their company’s travel program and increases savings and refines policy. AI and predictive analytics are on the case.

What to do now?

What will give companies a competitive edge now is the more agile use of data. From traveler risk management, pricing predictions, and travel spend optimization, technological advances can turn these processes into automated transactions that help businesses operate smoothly and efficiently. In corporate travel, the way forward is to unlock the power of data and leverage this new currency. This will increase traveler satisfaction and positively impact your T&E program and your bottom line.