Five essentials of travel programme reporting
Intelligent travel reporting, accompanied by insightful data analysis, has never been more critical. Smart reporting on travel spend and activity provides the right data to make progressive changes. It informs the ‘big picture’ decisions needed to restart large travel programmes and future proof them post-pandemic.
Together, reporting and analysis mitigates common travel pain points around:
- Traveller visibility
- Travel risk management
- Ability to demonstrate ROI
- Bookings made outside of mandated channels
What are the hallmarks of great travel reporting and how can you improve your reporting capabilities to enhance business travel for the long-term?
5 Travel Programme Reporting Best Practices
1. Real-Time Data
Having access to real-time travel booking data is vital for any company with a large mobile workforce. Particularly those that have staff travelling to remote, unique or high-risk destinations.
Ask your incumbent or prospective travel management company (TMC) if their reporting technology draws on real-time data. Many travel companies use historic data from the previous month rather than live data for their travel reporting. If you’re drawing on historical reporting then any booking, policy or payment issues are then managed retrospectively and not proactively. Live data means you can progressively track expenditure against factors such as department budgets.
Live data is also a matter of traveller safety and wellbeing. With live data you can identify where staff are and contact them in an emergency.
It's common for large business to benchmarking their travel programme against other businesses in your sector or with similar sized travel programmes and spend. It's especially valuable for creating long-term cost efficiencies.
It's like a health check. Your TMC can provide quantifiable data that summarises whether you're generating savings or receiving the most competitive supplier deal. It's best to compare against companies that spend a similar amount on travel and have similar patterns, as it's a more direct comparison.
Broadly benchmarking against all sectors will arm you with actionable insights. You'll then know which suppliers you should be negotiating more strategically with, and what discount levels your company may be eligible for.
3. Data accuracy
How can you make quick, confident decisions without clean or consolidated data? Despite many thinking this way - ‘dirty data’ isn't usually caused by the traveller booking. It's usually by the tools surrounding that booking ie. your online booking tool, the global distribution system or the processes that your TMC uses in the booking process. And bad data in = bad data out.
If data accuracy is one of your travel pain points - this is an important conversation to have with your TMC or a prospective TMC. Will their reporting tool provide a clear picture of your total spend and activity? Don't forget that reporting tools are for analytics and visualisations only. Break points for data inaccuracy can happen at any point within the data process before it lands in your TMC’s working platforms. Accurate travel reporting relies on strong data governance.
4. Data analysis
Travel reporting that provides spreadsheets or dashboards full of data and numbers is useless if it is not accompanied by insightful analysis and interpretation. It's what your people and your TMC does with the data that matters.
- Is the interpretation of the data helping your company to target any departments or policy ‘offenders’?
- Is the data being used by your procurement division to develop business plans for change or improvements?
- Or to determine what programme transformation looks like for your company?
Travel reporting dashboards can be tailored for different users or presented in a way that focuses on your top travel priorities. With that visibility, you will help your key travel stakeholders to address concerns in specific areas.
Expert analysis will also enable you to see where you are receiving return on investment (ROI). Effective reporting and analysis will demonstrate where there's value or where needs more work when it comes areas including:
- Supplier contracts
- TMC management fees
- Online booking fees
- Incidental spending
5. Consolidated reporting
Travellers booking out of preferred means, also known as leakage, is a huge area of concern for many procurement departments.
Where does data come in? If you have consolidated travel data with a single TMC, it puts you in a much better position to target where staff are booking outside of preferred channels and suppliers. You'll be able to calculate missed savings, where the leakage is coming from and which divisions need support.
Additionally, booking leakage compromises a company's duty of care. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed the face of travel as we know it, redefining duty of care and travel risk management to a whole new level. If you don't know where your staff are booked, you can't contact and support them in an emergency. It's unacceptable to be in that position now.