Most Popular Reads for Nov. ’09

Here are last month’s most popular posts.  Three of them deal with innovation in the travel industry.  Two deal with travel data, and two have that magic word “free” in the title.  Just when I thought my content was getting good!  This month I’ll focus more on airline sourcing topics.

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Travel 101 – provides a short video introduction to the travel category, and four good articles covering travel data sources, scrubbing, reporting and analytics.

What’s Next In Travel Innovation – covers the trends I saw from the PhoCusWright conference on Travel Innovation last month, and the implications for travel procurement.

Future Innovations in Airline Distribution – gives my views on three major innovations that will impact how airlines distribute their product.

Unexpected Airline Innovations – highlights two interesting tools that show how airlines are thinking more broadly about their mission.

Free Webcast on Travel Data – presents a blue-chip panel’s views on how to use travel data.   You can see and hear the archived presentation until Feb. 15th, 2009.

Free Tools – a collection of tools and educational presentations all related to travel procurement or travel management.

Editor’s Choice: Pre-Trip Approval Done Right – my post summarizes the successful approach taken by Deloitte, but the real value is in Brian Nichol‘s rich comments.  He gives you the key success factors and friendly advice you need if you’re considering this type of travel tool.

Please let me know what topics you’d like to see covered in the future.  Thanks for reading!

Free Webcast on Travel Data

** Update:  The original webcast is no longer available.  Here’s the portion of the webcast that I presented.  It gives a few examples of anlyses that have some element of added value in them:

MasterCard ProMedia Webex v2 Continue reading

Baking and Data Reporting

What the heck does baking have to do with travel data reporting, you ask?

Baking and Data ReportingIt makes for an interesting metaphor.  I used this concept in the speech I gave at the ACTE Canada conference this week in Toronto.  I’ll admit that the skit was a bit hokey, but the points about poor preparation of data, half-baked analysis and hanging Christmas lights on plain-jane data were too good to pass up.

Once I got beyond these process-related problems, we dived into Continue reading

Deciding How to Decide

This post continues the thread “Why Travel Disses Procurement…And What To Do About It“. In that post I explained why procurement has a bad reputation among many (not all!) travel managers, and two steps that will help travel managers overcome this problem.  This post describes the third step.

Get Your Flu Shot

This third step is a lot like getting kids to take their flu shots.  Continue reading

Meetings Analytics – A Much-needed Service

If your firm spends much on meetings and events, you should check out Meetings Analytics.  This young firm does the hard and messy work of gathering, scrubbing and analyzing corporate meeting data, and then analyzes it to identify practical savings opportunities.  You my think (or be told) that you already get meeting data reports from your meeting management tools or travel agencies.  Hah!  These guys are way ahead of those old-school reports.  They report their findings in these key areas: Continue reading

Travel Data 101 (part 4): Travel Analytics

Today we’ll look at data reporting’s sexy cousin, analytics.  Well, “sexy” may be a stretch, but my point is that data reporting is not very interesting, while good analytics can make you say “Wow – look at that!”

Travel category managers can be overwhelmed by all the data available to them.  Data reporting tools are necessary, but they typically produce “dumb” data.  By dumb, I mean Continue reading

Travel Data 101 (part 3): Data Reporting

(I originally posted this article on Supply Excellence)

Good data is one of the two must-haves in any successful travel sourcing project.  (The other is effective people, but that’s another story). The question here is how do you go from acquiring your travel data and scrubbing it, to getting good data reporting?  The answer is that it depends a lot on your data reporting tool (click here for a list of the better-known travel data reporting firms).  Here’s what you need to look for:

  • Consolidation: You want to store your travel agency booking data with your corporate credit card and expense reporting data.  Your data tool should be able to acquire data from just about any travel agency’s back-office program, any corporate credit card file and any expense reporting tool.  The more automated these handoffs, the lower the cost for you.
  • Normalization:  Your data tool should transform data from Continue reading

Travel Data 101 (part 2): Data Scrubbing

(I originally posted this article on SupplyExcellence as part of a series on using data in travel procurement)

Let’s assume that you’ve collected all your travel data – now what?  Just like with your other categories, you now have to scrub the data before it’s ready for your sourcing project. These two generic rules shouldn’t surprise you:

  • Discard abnormal values.  Your sourcing data is the basis for representing your future purchase patterns. Throw out the $35,000 plane tickets, the $300 per day car rentals, and the $1,800 per night hotel stays. While these may be fine audit items, they don’t belong in your sourcing data.
  • Embrace the 80/20 rule.  Travel data sets have very long tails…lots and lots of very small purchases in obscure places.  These purchases are of no value to your negotiations, so trim the small stuff from your spend files.  It makes the analysis much easier and the negotiations more relevant.

Here’s what you need to know about scrubbing Airline, Hotel and Rental Car data: Continue reading

Travel Data 101 (part 1): Best Sources of Travel Data

(I originally posted this article on SupplyExcellence as part of a series on using data in travel procurement)

Sourcing the travel category is the same as most other procurement categories – you need to start with good spend data.  The trick with travel data is knowing where to get it and how to use it.  Let’s start by dividing the travel category into its major food groups: airlines (or just “air”), hotels and rental car.  These sub-categories each have different places to get useful sourcing data. For the impatient reader:

  • For airline spend – get it from your firm’s travel management company (TMC, a.k.a. travel agency)
  • For hotel spend – use a combination of your firm’s TMC booking data and your corporate card data
  • For rental car spend – get it from  your contracted rental car supplier Continue reading

Leveraging Travel Data: 3 Examples

The good folks at ITM hosted the education session “Sweating The Numbers”, in which three of us gave examples of how to leverage travel data.  The slides I presented are here.  They show how to progress from ordinary hotel data to actionable clusters.

James Westgarth, formerly Airbus‘s head of travel management, showed how he used a variety of travel data to pinpoint cost savings in expense reimbursements and airfare negotiations.

Charles Williams at PI Benchmarking showed how his firm’s data integration and reporting tool could be used to track compliance and identify high-cost non-compliant travelers.  You can see Charle’s set of slides here on ITM’s website, and listen to the audio recording of the speakers’ narration here.