Access to Real-time Data and Report Building Capabilities Helps Agency Maximize Partnerships with Clients and Suppliers
About the Organization:
Great GetAways Travel (GGA) is a leading, privately-held, global travel management company (TMC) serving C-level, leadership clients in health care, medical research, real estate, private equity, financial services, academia, government and nonprofits, with corporate, meeting and luxury travel services from its offices in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since its establishment in 1987 by Diane Mabardi and Marie Mabardi Aroyan, GGA has practiced what has become the lost art of service excellence, integrating its extensive worldwide travel industry knowledge seamlessly with the needs of its corporate clients by preparing and creating innovative itineraries for their principals and managers, taking into consideration safety, productivity, time management and budgets.
GGA needed a more efficient way to pull detailed, quarterly performance reports for each of its clients. Traditionally, the TMC would have to wait for data from various resources, which would end up taking approximately four weeks to pull together and manipulate – costing the agency valuable time. Additionally, when attending airline meetings, GGA was often dependent on airlines’ lagging numbers to negotiate contract terms, and therefore, missing opportunities to leverage live sales information for more productive discussions. The data the agency was bringing to meetings was always vulnerable to questioning, leaving the team feeling unprepared and a bit uncertain during these important discussions.
Use ARC’s Aria web tool to view all of the company’s ARC transactions, in real time, on one consolidated platform; create cohesive reports for clients; and appropriately prepare for airline meetings with trustworthy data.
Using ARC’s Aria web tool, GGA saved time and resources completing quarterly reports for its clients, decreasing labor time from four weeks to approximately four days each quarter, equating to an approximate savings of 128 hours per year, using the product’s report builder dashboard. The agency has gained confidence in its numbers, which has led to more effective and transparent meetings with airline partners. Plus, the team is now able to use the tool during meetings to display live data. This has helped with managing incentives and ensuring the most beneficial agreements are in place.
Since its establishment in 1987, Great GetAways Travel (GGA), a global travel management company (TMC), has strived to keep up with the ever-evolving corporate travel industry. In today’s business, top priorities for this TMC include satisfying its corporate clients and securing beneficial supplier contracts, all while maintaining a clear outlook on its overall business strategy. And like many TMCs, GGA has had to continuously adapt its reporting styles as well as mine various business sources for data never formerly needed.
Previously, GGA relied heavily on ARC’s Internet Sales Summary (ISS) reports to view its settled sales – downloading these reports every Tuesday evening to later combine with data from its backoffice system, Trams. The agency would spend weeks manipulating the data and extrapolating specific pieces needed to present to clients, as well as to prepare for supplier meetings … all while lacking confidence in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of their data.
But, when GGA purchased ARC’s Aria product a little over a year ago, the TMC gained unlimited access to view, analyze and, when necessary, download their weekly ARC-settlement ticketing data – in an easy way – and gained the confidence they needed to better manage their business relationships.
With consolidated data across global distribution systems and back-office systems, Aria offers a quick way for agencies to track revenue and validate reported ARC transactions. Diane Mabardi, GGA’s president and CEO said, “The two biggest successes we’ve seen with Aria are the number of hours saved in completing reports for clients and the ability to see live data during airline meetings. There are a lot of products out there that do pieces of this, but Aria has everything all in one place.”
Reporting Made Easy
Like most TMCs, GGA provides its corporate clients with quarterly reports filled with data traditionally hard to compile, pulled from its back-office system and various data sources. Lisa Neumann, the agency’s financial analyst, explained, “Clients want to see air expense, air tickets and average ticket prices by quarter.” But the agency was never able to present figures in the format or level of detail clients requested, until Aria.
“Before Aria, it would take a long time to pick and choose the data we needed from various places,” said Neumann. With reports due quarterly, she explained, “I would literally have to start weeks prior to that just to find the information and figure out what I was missing. Now, it’s so much easier with Aria, because I can get the data much faster.”
Now able to do analysis by airline and by origin and destination (O&D), Neumann uses the tool’s report builder dashboard to create customized reports for each client that showcase trends in spend.
She explained, “I love it, because I can pick and choose what I need and build my own reports. For example, I can pick city pair reports to look at utilization of airline contacts to see if there are programs we can implement for future travel savings.”
Aria’s report builder allows users to customize data output and select specific data elements, such as specific ARC numbers, airlines, trip types, GDSs, processing periods and document types – to name a few. The tool also allows users to search their data by the last four digits of a traveler’s credit card number, the ticket number or even by passenger name.
Using this dashboard, Neumann has cut down her working hours on these reports from four weeks to four days. She said, “I started this quarter’s reports a couple days ago, and it’s almost done. I can now get the data I want faster than ever before.”
Another huge business asset, according to Neumann: The tool’s preexisting graphs, which allow users to view all their agency’s data in easy-to-understand visuals. She explained, “It’s all there and so easy for me to interpret and do analysis on. You don’t have to be a travel professional to understand what you’re looking at.”
Aria’s graphs help her make conclusions about performance, such as the percentage of international versus domestic transactions, cash versus credit, most frequently booked airlines, top ticketed destinations, a breakdown of document and transaction types, and more. She said, “The graphs are already created exactly how I would want to display to clients.”
But President and CEO Mabardi emphasized that quarterly client reports are not the only reporting this product assists them with. She uses Aria to help her with various business needs, primarily around quick access to data. She said, “Prior to Aria, we would need to use multiple systems and then spend time manipulating the data in attempt to get the necessary information. There would be so much data to remove that it would take forever. But, with Aria, it’s clean, quick and easy.”
Mabardi continued that back-office systems are parsing data sent to the GDSs, but Aria processes all of her TMC’s ARC information, making it better, cleaner and more all-inclusive.
Six Ways to Find Value in Aria
Informing Air Strategy
Another way Mabardi uses Aria is to spot sales trends to better understand the current state of her business and help inform future business strategy. The full-picture view of detailed ticketing data offers insights into passenger behaviors, including destinations of interest, seasonality of travel trends and airline preferences.
“In the past, we could tell what airlines customers were using and had an idea of where they were traveling to. But now, with Aria, we are able to narrow it down to what cities they’re traveling to, what the cost is per city, if they’re flying on a specific airline to the same city, on the same fare level, where we’re seeing the savings, and ultimately what the trend is,” Mabardi explained. “We weren’t ever able to see that level of information before.”
One of the most valuable discoveries, according to Mabardi, has been the ability to see the TMC’s corporate ancillary trend and how they’re doing with different types of fees. She explained, “The tool shows us where we’re picking up on EMDs – what that money is being spent on – and that’s really helpful, because this is money that is never included in carrier reports, but we need it included in our contracts.” She continued, “With one particular carrier corporate contract, we were able to negotiate additional amenities for our clients.”
Aria includes all documents reported through ARC’s settlement system, including tickets, miscellaneous charge orders (MCOs), electronic miscellaneous documents (EMDs), voids and ARC Pay transactions.
Aria has also helped GGA with identifying seasonality of travel trends by breaking analysis down by different months of the year. Mabardi said, “Aria has given us concrete financial information.”
Supporting Supplier Contracts
But supplier contracts is where GGA has received the most value out of Aria, according to the agency’s president. She said, “We’re able to look at certain city pairs that are seeing a trend to decide if, in these particular areas, we want to pick up more in our contract.” The tool also helps the company identify if it needs help, whether an airline is underperforming or if GGA needs more incentive to move market share.
“In the past, airlines had more information on us than we had!” Mabardi exclaimed. “But with Aria, there is no human error in the process. The tool picks up all the information our back-office system might not pick up, and our reporting is actually now better than what the airlines have.”
Mabardi explained that the data airlines bring to meetings is lagging, as it is flown revenue, but with Aria, she can show realtime, forward-looking data – every ticket that has been issued – for analysis of performance and trends right from within these meetings.
“Aria gives us better leverage when discussing terms with airlines. We have a better understanding of performance, rather than always relying on them to tell us how we’re doing,” she said.
An example of this occurred during a recent meeting with an airline, which showed GGA’s revenue as being down. Using Aria in the meeting, Mabardi was able to confirm that while revenue might have been down, this drop was caused by the airline moving fees into other buckets and by lower base fares. Transactions were actually up!
Mabardi said, “I was able to use Aria to show this airline that our sales were actually the same or higher, and it was their fares that were lower. So from a revenue standpoint, on the fare level, yes, we were down, but the sales were not. I was able to make our case and show them the actual numbers thanks to ARC,” she said.
Mabardi explained that this wasn’t just a one-time conversation with a single airline. She said, “When airlines come into the office to discuss programs going forward, I’m able to sign into Aria and say, ‘this is what our information really is.’ It’s made me more confident in our sales during meetings.”
She continued, “For years, we depended upon airlines’ flown data. Now, we’re able to show live data of everything we’re selling, and the airlines respect the data because it’s from ARC.”
Gaining the Edge
ARC’s Aria product has not only helped Great GetAways significantly cut down on hours spent reporting and data compiling, but according to Mabardi, it has helped her see a more holistic picture of the organization’s air sales, and in return, assisted in determining the TMC’s air strategy – making this tool truly invaluable.
Mabardi concluded, “Thanks to Aria, we are confident in our numbers. We’re now able to show our clients and our vendors concrete financial data. This product truly gives us an edge.”