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New Research Seeks to Advance Measurement in Corporate Travel

October 16, 2018 Business News No Comments Email Email

Travel managers don’t think the metrics now used to determine trip success truly measure whether the $1.3 trillion spent annually by businesses globally helps companies meet their goals for travel, finds a study released today by the ACTE Global (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) and BCD Travel.Asked what factors were most important to determine travel program quality—and what factors they actually measured—more than 300 travel managers polled came up with two completely disparate sets of answers (see chart below). The study highlights the fact that approaches to quality measurement in corporate travel management have remained unchanged for decades, despite transformational changes to the industry, such as moving from mostly phone reservations to mostly online bookings, and from paper ticketing to digital trip management.

“The travel industry has evolved to a startling degree over the past 20 years, from one providing a deeply human, streamlined experience through travel agents, to one that embraces technology, customisation and traveller-centricity,” said Greeley Koch, Executive Director, ACTE Global. “It is incumbent upon travel managers to adapt to this new reality and establish meaningful KPIs that capture not only the numbers—cost savings, hotel attachment, productivity—but also intangible elements, such as traveller safety and morale, and the programme’s impact on recruitment and retention efforts. No one within the organisation is better positioned to do this.”

“We’ve known for a long time that call centre data and booking statistics no longer have any correlation to a trip’s contribution to the company’s bottom line, or to its efforts to recruit and retain the best employees,” said Miriam Moscovici, Senior Director, Research and Corporate Innovation, BCD Travel. “Travel managers continue to measure these things, because our industry hasn’t adopted a new standard for measuring quality—despite the fact that emerging technologies now make it possible to figure out what trip components lead to business success.”
Standardisation may be the way forward

There is no single industry standard for best practices around quality management. Travel managers and suppliers alike have their own systems in place, and without a universal understanding of both what quality management is and what factors go into it, it can be difficult to benchmark success and reconcile reporting data. Travel managers clearly grapple with this challenge and are hungry for a better system: 80% believe a standard system of measurement would have a positive impact on corporate travel.

“There certainly needs to be greater definition of what quality management and satisfaction are to help travel managers action data in a more meaningful way,” said Yannis Karmis, BCD Travel Senior Vice President, Product Planning & Development. “As a sector, we’re measuring the wrong things, with metrics that are dated for modern and future travel programs. For example, the industry places too much emphasis on call centre metrics. With fewer and fewer transactions going through the call centres, we need to pivot our thinking and measure traveller engagements through technology. For BCD, for example, this expands to the actions a traveller takes after receiving a trip alert on their phone via TripSource.”

Travel managers are culling data from disparate sources

Overall, travel mangers rely heavily on third-party sources to measure programme quality, with 94% of travel managers relying on their TMCs and 81% on suppliers. Meanwhile, 71% say they use internal expense reporting, 67% say they use corporate card data, and just 61% leverage traveller surveys. The prioritisation of external sources points to a potential overvaluing of hard data and undervaluing of qualitative feedback—inhibiting full visibility into a programme’s success.

Travel managers must embrace technology

New technologies continue to proliferate across industries, from financial services to retail, allowing businesses to better analyse data and establish consistent, measurable quality management programmes, and to improve their ROI.

“We are in a golden age of advanced technology and digital transformation,” added Koch. “We see the Amazons of the world leaning into AI, Big Data, robotics and more to drive their businesses forward and make a real mark on the global economy. As a major contributor to international commerce, the corporate travel sector should be no different. Measuring success begets more success, and a high-quality travel programme can play a major role in propelling a business forward and fostering economic growth.”

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