Post-Trip Innovation - Data Strategies to Create Context

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Information about Post-Trip Innovation - Data Strategies to Create Context

Published on October 23, 2014

Author: Concur



After examining the various uses of data for pre-trip and on-trip innovations, this week we share with you insights gained from our third webinar in The Business Trip Life Cycle series for post-trip innovation, “Data Strategies to Create Context.” Data is an often discussed topic in travel management with report after report being aggregated, but without context and the correct approach, the data is useless.

Learn more about implementing innovation in the business trip life cycle:

1. The Business Trip Life Cycle IMPLEMENTING INNOVATION: PART THREE Post-Trip Innovation DATA STRATEGIES TO CREATE CONTEXT Data is often considered the ultimate goal of managing travel. It allows a corpora-tion to gain visibility into spend and to get a deeper understanding about how to optimize travel program policies and processes. Yet, it re-mains one of the most underutilized tools in the travel management toolbox. There are reasons for this: Without context, data can be flat and hard to understand. Post-trip data innovation, therefore, needs to re-imagine how travel managers use data to make it more manageable and meaningful. In a recent webinar from The BTN Group and Concur, travel management innovators shared some of their most exciting post-trip strategies and innovation forecasts. To watch the webinar and hear all the strategies presented, click here. STOP LOOKING WITHIN THE DATA FOR BUSINESS PROBLEMS “Data by itself is useless. It’s just an unorganized, random set of facts, but in the industry we’ve relied upon it for a long time,” said Brian Tarble, Concur’s director of global product management and data in-sight, speaking on the September webinar. “We’ve approached data with the mindset that ‘if I get all this data and some reports, I can figure out what to do with it.’ We are looking into the data to find problems. What we need to do is to understand the business problem first, and then look to the data to solve it.” There is a shift in the industry toward smarter use of data—“letting the data work for you, rather than you working for the data,” said Tarble—but the progress toward realizing this utility lies chang-ing the approach: 1. Identify the business problem first 2. Understand what data would be necessary to provide insight into that problem 3. Determine if the data set is in house, or if it is externally available 4. Think critically about whether the problem is worth solving Travel managers must then understand who should be consuming this data, and how it is best presented. Is it optimal to provide static charts and dashboards, or will stakeholders need interactive access to the data to build queries for their own analysis? “A lot of the conversations I have revolve around the idea that data is good, but if we can’t make it easy for executives/directors to make decisions, it’s useless,” said Tarble. Indeed, data exercises will remain academic unless the corporation can take action on the intelligence they derive from their data. GET BEYOND THE NUMBERS Kathleen Kaden, the former global travel manager for Cognizant Technologies, gained context to sup-port travel program data by going outside of tradi-tional sources and direct to travelers. While imple-menting the managed program at Cognizant, Kaden concurrently developed a series of automated VIEW THE ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: POST-TRIP INNOVATION: AGGREGATING, ANALYZING & ACTING ON DATA

2. post-trip traveler surveys to measure trip quality and gain insights into the traveler experience. “The surveys are based on the idea that percep-tion is just as important as fact,” said Kaden. “Often you need to aggregate perception to get real infor-mation you can work with.” Working with free online survey tools, Kaden created a short survey that gathered satisfaction rates around TMC services and online booking, as well as air, hotel and car suppliers. Surveys were customized per region to include only relevant sup-pliers and, very importantly, Kaden formulated the survey to offer an “open response” opportunity that allows Cognizant travelers to voice detailed com-mentary about their travel experiences. “Travelers take advantage of that,” she said. “Sometimes it’s positive and sometimes negative, but it really helps us to get the word out and has contributed to other changes in our program.” Traveler feedback from the surveys is used to inform conversations with suppliers, said Kaden, citing one-off communications to suppliers to better understand trip disruptions for an individual traveler, but also in a larger context of supplier management as patterns develop. “We had a European carrier that we were strug-gling with; we were falling short on our volume com-mitments,” Kaden said. “What we found in the survey data was, due to the carrier’s short connection in their hub, many of our travelers carrying Indian passports were getting stuck in the airport for 24 hours.” With context around the volume shortfall, Cogni-zant changed its agreement with the carrier, and the carrier actually went back and reviewed their connec-tion times. Kaden had a similar experience with an extended stay hotel chain within her program, where survey feedback informed her traditional data analy-sis and led to meaningful changes in vendor offerings. “Survey feedback proved important,” Kaden concluded. “It gives us the ability to have a better dialog with supplier, leads to better contracts, asso-ciate needs are met, and we get more compliance and volume with preferreds. That makes suppliers happier, and we meet our contract obligations.” PHASING OUT THE POST-TRIP? Optimizing post-trip practices within current industry frameworks is certainly one way to look at post-trip in-novation, but Concur’s Brian Tarble and BCD Travel’s director of emerging technologies, Miriam Moscovici, both envision a future where post-trip activities shift their position within the business trip lifecycle. “The post-trip phase is critical, but there’s a lot of opportunity left in it,” said Moscovici. “We get valu-able feedback and intelligence from our data. We analyze and prep strategy for our programs… But we want to see the day when we don’t come home and take a survey or fill out an expense report. You don’t have to debrief so others can learn from it. We want to see these activities brought up in the lifecycle and occur in the moment they are happen-ing and when feedback is most important.” Several expense providers have moved the nee-dle clearly into this territory, with mobile expense reporting that allows travelers to build reports on the road. Mobile messaging and surveys are another opportunity to minimize the traditional post-trip data round-up, and move these activities into real time. Tarble offered a sneak peek into a technology rollout that will push back-end data management into new territory, as well. “We are still used to looking at data from last month and basing current decisions on old data,” he said. “Concur wants to enable clients to use data to automatically take action. How do we get this information and drive change while we can still have some impact on the bottom line?” Concur is launching a smart messaging sys-tem that is based on back-end data triggers that will alert travel stakeholders about opportunities to make immediate impacts to their travel programs. Alert areas could include: • Budget Alerts: Taking into account actuals, ac-cruals and booked (but not executed) itineraries • Supplier Volume Alerts: Notifying travel man-agers that they have met volume obligations and may want to re-preference their booking tool dis-play to drive market share to another supplier • Country-by-Country Tax Rules • Critical Passport/Visa Information • Real-Time Fraud Alerts “We are getting more and better data through the lifecycle—and we can use it in a more sophis-ticated manner,” said Moscovici. Tarble agreed. “The technology is finally starting to align with the vision that we’ve had for a long time.” NOW ON DEMAND! “Implementing Inno-vation: The Business Trip Lifecycle” is available on-demand at Log in today to view the three-part series presented by The BTN Group and Concur. ABOUT CONCUR Concur is a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions. Concur’s easy-to-use Web-based and mobile solutions help com-panies control costs, save time and protect employees. Concur’s open platform enables the entire travel and expense ecosystem to access and extend Concur’s T&E cloud. Concur’s systems adapt to individual corporate and employee prefer-ences, and scale to meet the needs of companies from small to large. Learn more at POST-TRIP INNOVATION DATA STRATEGIES TO CREATE CONTEXT

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