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Corporate travel can add up. For some businesses, travel expenses are a major cost center, up there alongside payroll and day-to-day operating expenses. This is especially true for B2B businesses that rely heavily on face-to-face meetings to sell products, as well as service-based businesses that require executives to travel to a client’s location.

.@Certify: avg domestic trip costs US$949 and the avg int’l trip costs US$2,600. #businesstravel

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So it’s understandable that managing cost is one of the primary duties of a corporate travel manager or travel management company. By managing these costs through client contracts and traveler compliance, the business avoids surprises and wasted spending. Yet there is not often a way for business travelers to quickly test different travel dates to find the optimal travel day.

Consumer tools focus primarily on flights and do not include the packages that business travelers often book. The frequent traveler wants to have more control and to understand how travel dates impact cost — all without having to consult an agent or engage a company resource.

This is where the Trip Planning Cost Estimator comes in handy. The app was created by research analyst Wenkai Bao. Bao wanted to leverage historical data to enable users to estimate future travel cost, and then to choose the travel dates based on cost.

Estimating trip cost for business travelers.

All the user must do is select the type of package, and then the origin airport. The destination airports will auto-adjust to include potential pairs, so the user selects from that limited list. Finally, enter a class for air, hotel and car. Then the app works out the best times to travel, as well as the best times to book this specific trip.

Empowering the travel manager — and the traveler

Cost is not always something that business travelers are keenly aware of. Especially when it comes to business trips that can be scheduled with flexible dates, cost becomes a key factor in deciding when to travel.

To accomplish this, Bao created an algorithm that uses real data to make predictions:

The core challenge of Trip Planning Cost Estimator was to design an algorithm that extracts the right data.

The resulting application leverages the tremendous transactional data that Sabre accumulates. The rich mine of data enable us to forecast fare fluctuations from history, and to increase our accuracy. It’s all about using data to support decisions.

The idea of supporting smart planning decisions among travelers is one that resonates across the travel management ecosystem. The focus on a clear and intuitive interface was also deliberate. By making the Estimator easy to use, adoption is an easier path to climb. The toggle for flight, flight and hotel, or flight, hotel and car makes it a cinch to test certain parameters.

The product also sits at the start of the booking flow, which makes the information actionable. If the dates are discretionary, the traveler or the budget controller can decide when the best time to travel is. If the tool shows savings by waiting until next month to book the trip, then there is a compelling reason to potentially shift travel dates.

Explore the Trip Planning Cost Estimator demo here