Messy, Inaccurate, Confusing: Study Finds Corporate Travel Managers Waste Over 400,000 Hours Reconciling Travel Data

GBTA Foundation Study Finds Travel Managers Lack Single Solution to Efficiently Manage Multiple Data Streams Costing Companies Millions

Effective Use of Travel Data Can Help Companies Control Travel Spend

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Travel data can play a key role in helping travel managers control travel spend, increase compliance, negotiate with suppliers and manage safety and security risks – but data management systems need to be improved. Research released by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, found that despite the demonstrated value of travel data, travel managers struggle to manage and process multiple travel data sources to realize their business goals.

The survey, The State of Expense Data Management and Consolidation in the Business Travel Industry, sponsored by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), found that travel managers are not convinced they have a complete or accurate picture of the total cost of individual trips.  Respondents struggle to reconcile data, spending 442,000 hours in staff time per year or $22.7 million manually reconciling and cleaning travel data.

“Corporate travel managers need accurate, timely and complete data to effectively manage the multitude of responsibilities they have within their companies, from ensuring travel dollars are being spent wisely to making sure travelers are safe on the road,” said Joseph Bates, senior director of research at the GBTA Foundation. “From this study, we’ve learned that the data management industry needs to provide consolidated, clear data so travel managers can control spending, deal with compliance issues, and better leverage the plethora of data they currently receive.”

The Data Deluge

There are many shortcomings with how travel managers currently receive and utilize their data.  A full 82% of travel managers “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that they have to manage multiple data sources to answer questions from management about travel spending, and three-quarters (73%) say they have challenges reconciling differences in reports due to data formatting.

Six in ten (64%) do not trust that they have all the data they need, and nearly as many (58%) feel they spend too much time reconciling and cleaning what they do have to overcome inaccuracies.  Only 37% of travel managers believe their data is completely accurate and 44% would like it to be more timely.  Two-thirds (64%) do not trust that they have complete data to calculate the total cost of a trip.

Nearly three-quarters of travel managers surveyed (73%) felt a glut of information from multiple sources presents challenges when compiling and analyzing data. Additionally, 82% of respondents said that they have spent time managing multiple data sources.  In fact, the report found that GBTA members overall spent 442,000 hours in staff time per year, or $22.7 million, manually reconciling and cleaning travel data.

The Future?  Travel Data Consolidation

Travel managers who most effectively meet their business goals are significantly more likely to receive data from travel expense management systems than those who are not meeting their goals (65% of successful travel managers vs. 49% of less successful managers).  Therefore, travel data consolidation, where disparate data sources are combined into a single system, may be able to solve many of the issues travel managers experience.

The problem is that only 15% of travel managers say that they consolidate all of their travel data sources into a single system today.  The primary reason travel managers want to consolidate their data is to ensure it is accurate (47%), although some focus on getting richer data for analysis (27%) and less manual data reconciliation (19%).

“Capturing data is of the utmost importance for travel managers as they rely on that information to drive supplier negotiations,” said Nick Vournakis, senior vice president, Global Product Marketing and Solutions Group, CWT. “Without an accurate picture of their overall spend its difficult to prove the benefit that strategic deals can offer to both suppliers and corporations, so it’s extremely important for travel managers to work closely with their industry partners to improve and consolidate their data.”

About the GBTA Foundation
The GBTA Foundation is the education and research foundation of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s premier business travel and corporate meetings organization.

Collectively, GBTA’s 5,000-plus members manage over $340 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA provides its network of 17,000 business and government travel and meetings managers, as well as travel service providers, with networking events, news, education & professional development, research, and advocacy. The foundation was established in 1997 to support GBTA’s members and the industry as a whole. As the leading education and research foundation in the business travel industry, the GBTA Foundation seeks to fund initiatives to advance the business travel profession. The GBTA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 

About Carlson Wagonlit Travel
CWT is a global leader specialized in managing business travel and meetings and events. CWT serves companies, government institutions and non-governmental organizations of all sizes in 150 countries and territories. By leveraging both the expertise of its people and leading-edge technology, CWT helps clients derive the greatest value from their travel program in terms of savings, service, security and sustainability. The company is also committed to providing best-in-class service and assistance to travelers. CWT services and solutions comprise Traveler & Transaction Services, Program Optimization, Safety & Security, Meetings & Events and Energy Services. In 2011, sales volume for wholly owned operations and joint ventures totaled US$28.0 billion

SOURCE Global Business Travel Association

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