Technology is a major driver of change in travel. For most TMCs, the value delivered by fully unpacking Big Data outweighs the challenges presented by analyzing it. Collecting information from multiple sources takes time. According to the recent Travel Manager 2020 study, 57 percent of travel managers said data and analytics are one of their top three time-consuming activities. What’s more, travel managers anticipate devoting more resources to reporting in the future.

And no wonder: The payoff from doing so is invaluable. Travel managers who successfully harness data and analytics exceed corporate travelers’ expectations and prove the TMC’s value to clients by improving financial performance.

According to over three-quarters (77%) of surveyed travel managers, it is the travel management companies that typically handle the collection and reporting of travel data. Common uses for travel data include monitoring compliance and identifying hard-dollar savings. Whether it’s to learn how frequently corporate travelers make out-of-policy bookings or to better negotiate deals with hotels and airlines, analyzing data drives value for the individual traveler as well as the company itself.

For example, TMCs can sift through mountains of data to design an itinerary that features the best airfare and the most frequently on-time flights. To reduce security risk, they can access data on whether or not flights stop in politically unstable countries, while also finding amenities such as hotels that offer free Wi-Fi and are convenient to local places of interest and convention centers.

Proving ROI through cost savings

The use of Big Data goes well beyond personalizing and enhancing an individual traveler’s journey. TMCs can also use data and analytics to compellingly demonstrate the economic value they are delivering to their clients. For instance, by examining past travel habits, a TMC can show its client that employees routinely choose a hotel that is out of policy.

By acknowledging the property’s popularity and negotiating a deal to add the hotel to a client’s policy, the TMC can save the company money and elevate its own revenue.

By promoting in-policy travel and demonstrating value to clients, TMCs can give their revenues a lift. Big Data also promises to improve a TMC’s internal operations and efficiency. For example, data and analytics can track the performance and effectiveness of individual agents. Training resources can then be devoted to improve the effectiveness of agents who need some help — and an outstanding agent’s behavior can be studied and incorporated into a TMC’s best practices.

Of course, TMCs have to remember to communicate their value through data-rich presentations that highlight before-and-after savings, as well as individual traveler satisfaction. They also need to communicate the growing potential Big Data has for clients — such as pinpointing the most economical time to plan a conference or book a trip, or integrating data into the client’s travel decision-making process.

Ultimately, it’s the bottom-line cost savings that turns the most heads. An effective, consistent data collection and analysis strategy will pay for itself quickly — and keep clients happy to continue doing business with their travel management company.

Jessica Thorud also contributed to this article.