Filter in or out as many as 200 cities, as well as hotel and car rental class and meals of the day and watch as the per-diem calculator automatically adjusts per diems to your program. Drill down into cost breakdowns and export the results.
Olympia London - 26-27 February 2020
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel - March 11, 2020
Convene - 730 3rd Avenue, New York City - March 23,
Whatever else might change between now and 2020—and travel
experts expect plenty—no one foresees any diminution in the supreme importance
of data for travel management. What many do expect to change, however, is from
where data is gathered and how business intelligence will be created and used.
Experts also agree that privacy and security issues swiftly will rise up the
The Data Exchange founder and CEO Susan Hopley, a leader
among business travel data professionals, is convinced that travel managers
during the next few years will start to work with data in a very different way.
For example, many companies operate a policy of booking the lowest logical
fare, using management information to track whether travelers are following
that rule. Hopley believes the focus of reporting will shift.
"Currently, we use data to tell us what the booked fare
was and what the lowest logical fare was, and we obtain that data from the GDS
or our travel management company," she said. "Well, how about if my
company is a multinational and the fare was bought in Asia, or wasn't bought
under contract? Lowest logical fare is going to go away, because correct use of
big data will tell us the questions to ask. The data itself will pose the
questions and potentially provide the answers.
"Within seven years, the data will check all kinds of
different sources and tell us whether our buying patterns are as good as other
organizations of our size—instantaneously, or pretty close," Hopley
continued. "It'll ask: 'Why are you buying such and such hotel when the
average rate in nearby hotels is lower and you are wasting X dollars of company
money?' And it will tell us the answer."
According to Hopley, reporting will become more intuitive
thanks to the proliferation and improved integration of multiple data sources.
Whereas some might view fragmentation of data sources as a threat, Hopley
believes exactly the opposite holds true. "I don't think one source of
data will ever provide the nirvana of all the data needed to make intelligent
decisions," she said. "Value lies in how elements of data combine
with other elements to become more meaningful. That's the brilliance of big
data: nothing is going to emerge as the single location for it."
One seam of data that several experts identify as a
particularly rich, emerging source of information for travel managers is mobile
communications, including text messages and social media posts. "I look
for patterns," said Maria Chevalier, a former travel manager for
Hewlett-Packard and Johnson & Johnson. "If one person said something,
it could be a grumpy old man. If four people said it over the past week about a
hotel that historically trended highly, I need to let the hotel know it has a
little blip and make sure the situation is monitored."
The challenge such data poses is that it is largely
unstructured. "The way it exists today, we don't have the ability to
collect, mine and utilize it effectively," said Chevalier. "It's easy
to collect the data points on ratings; it's the comments which are so
unstructured. At HP, we sent a survey to our travelers. We got a good response
rate, but that meant we had 20,000 comments. We had no mechanism to mine 20,000
free-form comments. We had two college kids come in and work on it for three
Travel and Transport CEO and president Bill Tech also
worries about how to capture unstructured traveler communications. "We get
challenged so many times by airlines telling us: 'Mr. Smith said he was going
to Springfield, Mo., but you booked him through Springfield, Ill., therefore
you are wrong and you owe this debit memo,' " Tech said. "We record
all our voice messages and we keep a record of all emails, but with texts you
can't really. I think we'll find a way to capture that information. It's the Y
Generation which will want to use that, because they are used to it, and we
must be prepared for it."
Travel Leaders Corporate president David Holyoke is
grappling with the same problematic data source. "A big barrier right now
into SMS becoming a path for the booking process is PCI [Payment Card Industry]
compliance and the security aspect of transmitting certain confidential data
over it," he said. "There's got to be a lot more investment into
these next-gen communications platforms so we can allow another way of
While getting to grips with unstructured data is a perpetual
challenge waiting for a solution, Advito U.S. principal Bob Brindley worries
that several older problems still have not been put to bed. Two examples he
cited are obtaining reliable data about airline ancillary fees and gaining
access to detailed hotel e-folio data from transactions paid by credit card.
Since these are issues many travel professionals expected to be solved by now,
they serve as a warning that today's new data headaches may not be cured by
"Five years ago the conversation was about card e-folio
data being a huge improvement," Brindley said. "It should have become
an industry standard, but it still isn't."
Yet, he remains optimistic that data will continually
improve "for both buyers and suppliers. There will be richer discussions
than we have today, but what we have today is better than five to 10 years ago.
Both sides have to keep faith."
Security And Privacy Is The Goal, But Achieving It Will Be An Uphill Battle
If data is the new oil, then data security is the new
pipeline blowout waiting to happen. Numerous travel professionals cite data
security and privacy as a rapidly growing concern that by 2020 will become an
even more pressing issue.
"Clients more and more now are asking us and other TMCs
how safe our data is and whether our systems are secure," said HRG chief
executive David Radcliffe.
Oracle global travel global process owner Rita Visser asked,
"How much do you know about my traveler? Does the airline or supplier know
more about travelers than we want them to know?"
The issue arguably is even more sensitive in Europe than in
the United States. "Data privacy will become a bigger issue. It's already
being used for espionage today, so I'm not sure how this will end up,"
said Hans-Ingo Biehl, executive director of German travel management
association VDR. Jörg Martin, owner of Germany-based CTC Corporate Travel
Consulting, added that his countrymen also are apprehensive about how porous
the International Air Transport Association's proposed New Distribution
Capability processes appear.
The Data Exchange founder and CEO Susan Hopley believes
travel managers will have to make a better fist of tracking who has access to
their data and how it is used. "Corporations don't understand the value of
their data, or the revenues that are made from it, and in many cases it just
streams out their door with no control at all," she warned.
The big concern for many therefore is whether corporations
sufficiently can seal their doors to prevent their data seeping out. Since
corporate travelers operate and communicate in a highly connected world, it
increasingly is difficult to control the transmission of data about themselves
and their companies. "I am very worried about social networking because of
the risk it poses to security of travel data," said Martin. "If it's
a closed, internal network, it might be okay, but posting information like
travel itineraries on consumer networks is no-go as far as I'm concerned."
However, travel professionals increasingly discern an
indifference among individual employees, especially younger ones, to cherished
and hard-fought notions of data privacy.
"People are more open—especially with the Millennial
generation entering the workforce—around data being captured, whether in a
business travel or consumer setting, as long as the data gathered isn't seen as
creepy or invasive, and the results align with their needs," said Travel
Leaders Corporate president David Holyoke. "You'll see that evolution
continue. It certainly presents a challenge for this industry, but I don't see
how anyone can build fences or silos or walls to prevent this from coming into
So swiftly will attitudes change that KDS CEO Dean Forbes
believes few travelers will object to being tracked via the global positioning
system on their mobile device. "Fifteen years ago, people were cautious
about putting a mobile phone in their pocket," said Forbes. "I think
attitudes toward tracking travelers through their mobiles for duty-of-care
purposes will relax, although that may not happen as soon as 2020. You might
get a situation where travelers will be required to check in periodically to
let their company know where they are rather than being permanently tracked."
originally appeared in the Nov. 11, 2013, edition of Business Travel News.
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