Reporting on hotel spending can be a real drag; you need to gather the data, make sense of it, write the report and then produce the charts. It’s both draining and time consuming.Your travel management programme relies on this data, and if you’re a travel manager, there are a few things you can do to improve the data collection and reporting process.
Hotel spend data comes from a variety of sources. To make sense of it, you need to understand what each source is telling you:
- Travel agencies provide comprehensive booking data about air travel, hotel stays and even car bookings. Such reports are typically ‘pushed’ out via email at monthly intervals or accessed via an extranet.
- Corporate credit cards are particularly useful because they capture actual spend data – not just the spend that relates to accommodation bookings.
- Expense reports provide spend at commodity level (i.e. ‘hotel’), rather than details about property names or destinations, but usually cover a wider range of expenses.
Capturing ‘rogue spending’ made outside of the travel policy is also vitally important, and that can usually be done by interrogating corporate credit card statements.
Travel managers use hotel spend data to aid with policy compliance, supplier management and to find savings opportunities, but its usefulness extends far beyond their department.
For instance, purchase managers may take an interest in spending patterns, targets and thresholds. Likewise, the finance team will link travel data to their budgets, by reviewing departmental and year-on-year spend.
For data to be meaningful, it needs to be managed by one global travel management company and settled via a single global credit card. However, the challenge lies in the fact that no single data source is entirely adequate, and to build a complete picture of hotel spend, a variety of data sources will be required.
Thankfully, this can be achieved via third party consolidators who can aggregate data requirements.
While large enterprises have the resources to set up effective travel management programmes, SMEs can still make better use of the spend data they have. For instance, by analysing hotel spend, SMEs can identify when employees are relying on too many hotels at a specific destination. Negotiated rates can also be scrutinised. Are they being used? Or does it make sense to rely on the best available rates from Booking.com instead?
Data should always be sourced ethically. That means you need to ensure traveller consent is gained before you use their corporate travel data. This can be done when initially setting up the traveller’s profile with the travel management company, but corporate credit card applications should also be checked to ensure there’s wording around sharing data with the employer.
Duty of care has become an essential task for every travel manager. Hotel spend data helps businesses with policy compliance, supplier spend and to identify saving opportunities, but pre-travel reporting can influence travel behaviour.
The need to locate travellers in case of an emergency plays a central role in duty of care, and if pre-travel reporting can encourage them to invest time in their own duty of care, this part of the travel manager’s role becomes considerably easier.
Travel data is set to become more intuitive, with travel industry suppliers keen to develop solutions that offer immediate advice on how to translate raw data into something more meaningful. Despite this, you should only collect and analyse the data that helps you make better business decisions.
Travel organisers are no strangers to getting stuff done. But, sometimes, we can all use a few extra tools. Check out The Immensely Handy Toolkit for Busy Travel Organisers to get started.