“Data is important. Make it real, make it relevant, make it actionable.”’
This was one of the many important takeaways our team heard last month at the 2016 GBTA Convention in Denver, Colorado. And it’s one that we are really excited about because FlightStats has supported a data-driven approach to travel management for a long time. It’s nice to see industry leaders putting more emphasis on data, realizing how it can help them achieve both their financial and customer service goals.
So why is data changing perspectives in the travel industry? Here are a few reasons that have emerged in the past few years and are continuing to gain momentum:
1. Corporations are broadening their definition of value in travel
In the past, corporations have been almost exclusively focused on cost as the mechanism to determine the value of their travel program. While cost is, and always will be, a key contributor to the equation, there are many other considerations that come into play, such as:
- Objective and relevant measurements of supplier performance
- Keeping track of travelers, especially during disruptions
- Proactively communicating with travelers
Having access to the most relevant, contextual data allows the agencies and airlines serving corporations to accomplish these important goals. It also opens up the opportunity for corporations to review specific metrics that measure the true value of their travel program.
2. Traveler experience has become the best route to savings
In recent years, travel managers have become more focused on improving traveler experience and well-being. According to a 2015 study, 75% of travel managers see improved traveler service as a route to savings.
Data is what powers the tools travel managers, agencies and airlines need in order to enhance traveler service, whether they’re offering:
- Alerts during a trip. Delivering the right information at the right time to the right person keeps travelers safer and more productive during their journey. It also helps agents take proactive measures to assist travelers during times of disruption.
- Reporting and analytics. Reviewing the results of a travel program and the effects of a disruption helps identify weaknesses and optimize results.
- On-time performance. Making specific and relevant on-time performance guarantees part of corporate contracts with airlines.
- Mobile apps equipped with the latest flight information. Keeping communication consistent and accurate makes the traveler feel supported and less stressed.
Being able to use data to remove communication barriers, resolve visibility challenges and gain more insight into performance will ultimately improve traveler experience and lead to cost savings.
3. Differentiation is becoming more important
More agencies and airlines are focused on providing a higher level of service and quality in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. They are realizing that competing on price alone isn’t what will close the deal with corporate travel buyers. Instead, they must focus on offering corporate customers exceptional customer service by acting on contextual data.
Data is proven to have a direct monetary impact on a travel program and it greatly enhances an agency or airline’s ability to look out for travelers throughout their journey. Data access and analysis will allow all segments of the travel industry to:
- Understand and report on how disruption impacted their travelers
- Identify problems sooner and react accordingly
- Manage costs effectively during times of disruption
When airlines and agencies are empowered by data, they are able to better serve their corporate customers and better support their travelers. Essentially, it’s a win-win all around.
How to make data real, relevant and actionable
FlightStats has created an entire suite of data analytics and alerting solutions to help our customers access new insights and tackle visibility challenges.
- Real: We ask our customers to share their trip data with us, which we integrate with the flight data we collect. As a result, we are able to deliver the most contextual information back to them.
- Relevant: We don’t simply regurgitate data. We spend a significant amount of resource refining it and only delivering the information and solutions our customers need. This prevents information overload and our customers never have to worry about overwhelming travelers with unnecessary or irrelevant details.
- Actionable: We monitor a trip for changes and identify what is actionable in those changes as they are happening so we can improve our customer’s ability to react to it. We understand that the more accurate and timely data is, the more actionable it is.
Corporations, corporate travel managers, and the agencies and airlines that serve them are all getting on the data train. It’s making them ask questions they’ve never asked before and it’s changing their overall approach to assessing the value of travel management programs. We’re ready to support that effort with our Trip Data Services portfolio because, as it was said at GBTA 2016, data really is important.