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Travel managers: ‘Metrics don’t measure up’

Graphic to represent key performance indicators

Travel managers don’t think the metrics used to determine trip success truly measure whether the US$1.3 trillion spent annually on business travel helps companies meet their goals, according to a new study.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE Global) and BCD Travel carried out a survey of 301 travel managers for the study, which highlighted the fact that approaches to quality measurement in corporate travel management have remained unchanged for decades despite changes in the industry such as moving to mainly online bookings and digital trip management.

When asked how they measure their programmes’ quality, the majority of respondents agreed they use a variety of sources for culling data. Ninety-four per cent said they rely on their TMCs and 81 per cent on their suppliers. Meanwhile, 71 per cent use internal expense reporting, 67 per cent depend on corporate card data and just 61 per cent leverage traveller surveys.

ACTE says this prioritisation of external sources points to a potential overvaluing of hard data and undervaluing of qualitative feedback, which could inhibit full visibility into a programme’s success.

Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE Global, commented: “The travel industry has evolved to a startling degree over the past 20 years, from one providing a deeply human, streamlined experience through travel agents, to one that embraces technology, customisation and traveller-centricity. It is incumbent upon travel managers to adapt to this new reality and establish meaningful KPIs that capture not only the numbers – cost savings, hotel attachment, productivity – but also intangible elements, such as traveller safety and morale, and the programme’s impact on recruitment and retention efforts. No one within the organisation is better positioned to do this.”

Miriam Moscovici, senior director of research and innovation at BCD Travel, said: “We’ve known for a long time that call centre data and booking statistics no longer have any correlation to a trip’s contribution to the company’s bottom line, or to its efforts to recruit and retain the best employees. Travel managers continue to measure these things because our industry hasn’t adopted a new standard for measuring quality – despite the fact that emerging technologies now make it possible to figure out what trip components lead to business success.”

Yannis Karmis, senior vice president of product planning and development at BCD Travel, added: “There certainly needs to be greater definition of what quality management and satisfaction are to help travel managers action data in a more meaningful way. As a sector, we’re measuring the wrong things, with metrics that are dated for modern and future travel programmes. For example, the industry places too much emphasis on call centre metrics. With fewer and fewer transactions going through the call centres, we need to pivot our thinking and measure traveller engagements through technology. For BCD, for example, this expands to the actions a traveller takes after receiving a trip alert on their phone via Tripsource.”

Koch concluded: “We are in a golden age of advanced technology and digital transformation. We see the Amazons of the world leaning into AI, Big Data, robotics and more to drive their businesses forward and make a real mark on the global economy. As a major contributor to international commerce, the corporate travel sector should be no different. Measuring success begets more success, and a high-quality travel programme can play a major role in propelling a business forward and fostering economic growth.”

Read the full report here

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