This is the year in which travel data darkness begins to die.
By data darkness, I mean the opacity of travel booking data made outside of company-approved booking channels. Exhibit A – hotel bookings made on Brand.com. Given that most companies can’t see 40-50% of their hotel bookings, this is a big black hole for most travel managers. And safety/security managers. And tax managers (more on this later).
Sure, you may get this data via the corporate credit card, or eventually via the expense report, but by then that data’s wattage is pretty dim. Surely you need brighter data – more detail, in real time, regardless of how or where your travelers book.
No problem. The solution – conceptually – is so close and so simple. And it has tax benefits to boot.
It’s your company’s e-mail server. More specifically, your e-mail forwarding rules engine.
1. Tell that engine to detect every incoming itinerary from all your employees (OK, that may take a little work). Once detected, forward a copy of the itinerary e-mail to your favorite itinerary management service, like TripIt or Worldmate or TripCase.
2. Get those guys to provide real-time reporting back to you (the travel manager).
3. Share that wealth of data with your stakeholders – your TMC, safety/security folks, and your tax compliance folks. In fact, the tax folks may (probably should) pay for the costs. It’s their butts on the line to keep track of how many days employees spend in “non-home” cities, states and countries.
This “itinerary copy/forward” idea isn’t mine. The bright boys at Blackspark, a Toronto startup, came up with it first. They needed a way to get the travelers’ data into their tax compliance monitoring software. I’ll write more about Blackspark soon. Meanwhile, here’s a good case study covering this issue and their solution.
Go on, flip that switch. No more travel data darkness. Open bookings get tracked effortlessly. Hotel leakage gets a big dose of sunlight. Traveler safety goes up. Tax compliance risk goes down.
What’s not to like about this bright idea?
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