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HRG predicts travel programme integration, smarter data analysis and travel risk management to top client agenda in 2015

Clients will focus on greater integration across their travel programmes in 2015, according to Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the award-winning international corporate services company. Smarter data analysis will lead to increased understanding of traveller behaviour, driving policy change and delivering wider visibility of travel spend. Travel Risk Management will also feature at the top of the agenda in 2015.

Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director for HRG, comments: “2015 is going to be about clients demanding more from their commercial agreements with TMCs and improving their travel risk management procedures.  The macro economic situation remains unchanged on the whole and clients are seeking to extract more from their spend without reducing the quality of their service.  

“Meanwhile, geo-political instability and weather related incidents are becoming more frequent; both represent greater risk to travellers. Clients have a legal requirement to ensure the safety and well being of their workforce. Improving travel risk management programmes is a growing requirement that we expect to see continue into 2015.  

“How are they going to achieve all of this? We are going to be seeing an increase in integration across client travel programmes so that we can utilise smart data to achieve the goals that will be set in 2015.”  

Programme Integration
Single sourcing of travel technology and services is not always achievable, as such clients are looking to stitch together their technology to deliver a common and consistent programme in order to deliver compliance, control and cost savings.  

“In itself this isn’t anything new”, Harvey explains. “These are three objectives we have spoken about before but what is exciting now, is how we are working with our clients to achieve them. A fantastic example of this can be seen across our Energy and Marine client base.  Due to the unique requirements of operating in the most challenging of situations, clients in this sector have historically developed their own internal technology, such as contractor databases.  

“They need the right contractors, at the right place, at the right time. And crucially with the right documentation. Travel is essential to their operational success and by integrating this standalone technology with their existing external reporting, booking and expense management tools, clients can reduce costly delays and ensure a common and consistent approach across their travel programme.”  

Smart Data
Clients are becoming smarter in the way they use their travel data and this is a trend that is likely to continue in 2015, according to Harvey: “Clients are using their travel data in ways we could never have imagined three years ago. What used to be the realm of the data analyst can now by understood by anyone who can use a mouse and keyboard.  

“We see this clearly in the way clients are using and shaping the development of HRG Insight, our mapping and reporting tool. Insight was initially designed with data specialists in mind, providing them the opportunity to pore over all types of travel data. However, feedback from clients revealed that they wanted to use this data in a meaningful way by placing it in the hands of their travel managers. Therefore we improved the relevance of the data through areas such as additional reporting functionality.”  

One client with operations in 90 countries has over 4,000 cost-centre owners, many of whom do not have a lot of experience with travel data. The improved reporting from HRG Insight means HRG is able to supply these cost-centre owners with ready to use data ranging from year-on-year spend comparisons right through to individual traveller behaviour when booking travel.  

Harvey adds: “By providing smart, relevant and timely data, we are able to help clients increase visibility over their travel spend at a cost-centre level, drive policy compliance by focusing on traveller behaviour and benchmarking performance to deliver future cost savings.”  

Commercial Savings
Consolidation has been a key feature of clients’ travel programmes in recent years and is essential for improved benchmarking and supplier negotiations, data management, traveller tracking and controlling costs. As clients integrate additional markets, air and hotel expenditure and expense management data into their travel programmes, they are gaining increased visibility over their total travel spend.  

Harvey explains: “Having additional data is great. But what is important is what you do with it. Increased visibility of travel spend allows you to identify opportunities for the future. This may mean improved negotiations with suppliers, making more informed decisions over where to hold meetings or driving traveller behaviour.  

“With the additional data, HRG’s team of data analysts can conduct more trending analysis. We are looking more and more at who is booking travel, when they are booking and who they are booking for. By applying a “what if” analysis, our data analysts can make recommendations across a clients travel programme, identifying opportunities to make further commercial savings and make better use of travel budgets.”  

Travel Risk Management
Clients’ duty of care obligations ensure that travel risk management will remain at the top of the agenda in 2015, particularly in the face of increasing geo-political instability and the adverse effects of extreme weather related incidents.  

“Travel risk management is an area that clients know they should be doing more in order to meet their duty of care requirements” Harvey comments, “however as risk covers multiple business areas it is difficult to ascertain who is responsible for each component of a travel risk management programme. This means when something goes wrong the response is not as prompt or effective as it should be.”  

While most clients currently have a policy in place, a clear understanding of internal structures and responsibilities for when an incident occurs is required. This will ensure the policy can be communicated effectively, remain flexible to changing business requirements and yet remain robust in times of adversity.  

Harvey adds: “It is business critical for clients to develop a travel risk management policy that has the mechanisms in place to respond to a crisis. By developing and implementing an integrated travel risk management strategy that is clearly communicated across their organisation, clients can mitigate their vulnerability across four areas: corporate reputation, financial risk, duty of care and legal obligations.”

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