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 better understanding it?
- How to identify the key data points that might trigger substantial gains in your travel program?
- How can you communicate with senior management effectively to gain their buy-in?
Data visualization 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.
For example, have you ever tried explaining what kind of music you like to listen to and when? Have you 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 visualization in minutes of your “music DNA” and get a picture of what you 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 program?
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 program owners. The benefits of data visualization in business travel management can be substantial.
Sophisticated and visual analytics platforms means that everyone, whether they’re a busy travel manager, purchasing officer, finance manager or executive, can save time and convey the deeper meaning of travel data more easily.
Time-strapped travel program owners will soon be able to rely on true predictive analytics, using data and insights of past behavior to make forecasts for the future. This means that if you need to convince your supervisor, or someone in the C-suite, data visualization backed by detailed and consolidated data can help demonstrate what a volume of travel data is saying.
Empowering travel management through data visualization and predictive analytics
Forecasting and optimizing 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 this — they’re specialists in modeling 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 act like a high-level actuary statistician without investing years into a Ph.D. Data visualization can provide a clear view of your travel program performance and total cost of ownership. It will help you uncover hidden patterns, find new opportunities for savings, and inspire ideas to increase compliance. To see how changes to your program can directly impact your results, you might ask:
- What if I decrease the advance booking window from 14 to seven days?
- What if my online adoption for my hotel program was at 85 percent instead of 80 percent?
- 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, because today’s travel manager will tell you that data visualization is worth millions of dollars.