While external benchmarking is often used to help companies assess travel costs, policies and performance metrics, many travel managers slice and dice data they already receive for internal benchmarking against their own company’s departments or business units.
Less frequently, organizations benchmark against geographic regions, comparisons of like travelers, senior executives/board members or other business entities owned by a parent company, according to a survey of 143 corporate decision-makers conducted for ARC by The BTN Group.
While corporate policies, data integrity concerns or time limitations often prevent companies from benchmarking their data against that of industry peers, a TMC database or other source (nearly 30 percent of survey respondents said they don’t benchmark externally), those with a large enough base have found plenty of insight and value by investigating and analyzing their own data.
Those with a large enough [data]base have found plenty of insight and value by investigating and analyzing their own data. Taking their own data, companies have in recent years developed new dashboards that allow business units, finance, senior management or other key stakeholders to compare critical travel performance metrics. In a recent Business Travel News article, DHL’s Michelle Hunt noted how to “benchmark internal companies against one another to see if that creates some friendly competition in the organization to get them to do the right thing.” Other companies have long used such peer or management pressure—with or without identifiers, depending on company culture—to gain adoption, policy compliance or savings initiatives.
In the ARC survey, 48 percent of respondents said they internally benchmarked departmental or business unit data, comparisons of like travelers or domestic versus international travel.
Beyond Travel Cost Benchmarking
Beyond travel costs, more than 70 percent of respondents said they benchmark advanced travel booking metrics, while nearly that number benchmark hotel booking policies or metrics. Whether they are doing so externally or internally, between one- and two-thirds of all respondents also cited business-class, premium-economy and first-class booking policies and metrics among those often compared. Some also cited meeting metrics and per diems, hotel attachment, advance purchase and lost savings as other metrics they look into. Others noted that they compare business meals and alcohol costs, online booking tool usage and T&E to company revenue, while 28 percent benchmark that category as needed and 27 percent do so on a quarterly basis.
Benchmarking Wish List
Despite the many metrics that exist today to help companies manage travel, survey respondents had a laundry list of metrics they would most like to see published, led by T&E as a percentage of revenue and travel benchmarks by industry sectors. Others want to see compliance to various policies, OBT versus agent-booking behaviors, travel risk management metrics, travel department organization structure and staffing sizes, ancillary fees and use of shared economy providers and policies.
And, despite the abundance of airfare and booking class data points, some respondents listed on their wish lists: cost per mile, ticket exchange rates, average ticket price per market pair, top city pairs and by airline, ATP for various industries, unused ticket spoilage and airline change fees.
In the latest ARC survey on benchmarking, 143 travel managers, buyers or other decision-makers were surveyed by The BTN Group in July and August 2016. Asked to indicate their organization’s 2015 air volume, 19 percent of respondents said $50 million or more, 20 percent reported $15 million to $49.9 million, 18 percent indicated $5 million to $14.9 million, 27 percent said $1 million to $4.9 million and the remaining 16 percent said less than $1 million.
The Highest-Quality Data
With ARC data solutions, corporate travel managers have the ability to gain unique insights into their travel programs, as well as benchmark with similarly sized organizations and across the corporate travel industry as a whole. Leveraging ARC’s unbiased and comprehensive settled ticketing database, ARC data solutions allow travel managers, procurement teams and their executives to better visualize, analyze and monitor their air travel programs with insights across spend, policy, O&Ds and airlines.