two days to prepare and get that ready to
be evaluated and monitored through Excel. It’s really not “intelligent.” It’s more of
a data dump and using Excel to massage
and manage that the best we can because
we don’t have a true analytical tool.
Q How much time do you spend ana- lyzing the data once you have it?
Redmond: I’d say eight hours a month. I
haven’t wanted the team to invest [more
time] in manual processes because we’re
not staffed for that and we’re not going to
add additional people. We’re hoping that
with this new data analytics tool, we’ll be
able to capture that and click through a
Q Jennie, you have a built-in data nalytics solution because you
manage travel for Tableau, a business
intelligence software offering. That’s
handy for an SME travel program.
What can others do?
Robertson: Travel can sometimes be its own
world within a company. So first thing,
reach out to someone in finance or IT and
ask if you have a self-service business intelligence analytics tool that the company
is already using internally. There may be
licenses people internally are already using
but are not widely known or distributed.
Q Does free-and-clear access to a busi- ness intelligence tool make it easier,
or do you still face challenges just as
other SMEs do?
Robertson: Our TMC is Egencia. There is
no [application programming interface],
so our reporting team has to pull about
90 reports every Monday from Egencia’s
reporting tool, [though the process] is automated by using scripting and different
third parties. If I want something today,
I have to go into Egencia’s reporting tool,
as we only do a weekly refresh of the data.
If we had a daily or instant feed, we could
build our own monitoring system instead
of using Egencia’s reporting tools.
They just need updating. Egencia is
working toward a single global platform,
is on a different site, so if I want to change
a policy like increase per diems I have to log
in to 10 sites to change them. The API is
in Egencia’s pipeline, but I don’t think it’ll
happen this year. We figured out a slightly
easier way to do it that involves reconfigur-
ing our database to accept [the data] that
way, so we don’t have to pull so many re-
ports. We’re doing that this year. It’s a lot of
work to get our own data.
Q So what advice would you give others looking for data management solutions?
Redmond: Understand the integration piece
from end to end and where you’ll get the
reporting because you can find yourself in
the middle of two unwilling partners. Line
up whatever solution and partners you will
use. Can they really meet reporting and analytical capabilities?
Q Jennie, you’re dealing with something like that now, right? In November,
Egencia and Concur will retire the API that
feeds Egencia booking data into Concur Expense. How will you manage the change?
Robertson: We haven’t figured out how
we’re going to deal with that when they
shut off the connector. We haven’t really
figured out how important it is, either. It’s
hard to say. One thing we’ve struggled with
is that there are some cool third-party tools
out there like Tripbam and Roadmap that
we wanted to consider, but the hurdle was
getting our data to them. It’s more chal-
lenging with Egencia because they have
inventory coming from many different
systems and providers; it’s not all consoli-
dated in one GDS. This added complexity
makes it more difficult to share data with
third parties. [Egencia] doesn’t necessar-
ily have an incentive to get our data over
to third parties because they might prefer
to provide the service themselves to keep
us in their ecosystem, [perhaps through]
their own mobile app or a hotel rate shop-
ping tool that will work with Egencia/
Expedia inventory. If I had access to the
data on a daily or instant basis, I could
share it myself, but I don’t at present, at
least not in the way that I want to. So for
anyone who may be going out to bid for a
TMC, it’s important to make sure you own
your data, can access it in the manner that
works best for you and [can] share it with
third parties as you see fit.
Q Would you change to a travel man- agement company that can make
those connections with third parties?
Robertson: Everyone’s down on their provider because at the end of the day, there
are only two [options] if you need an online
booking tool that’s truly global and built
to scale: Egencia or Concur. I’ve been with
both, and it’s not like the grass is greener.
It’s just different; it’s blue. Concur is truly
an agnostic booking tool, but then you have
to deal with working with another third
party, a travel agency on top of that. This
is another huge challenge: Going global
when you’re small. There’s nothing other
than Egencia when you’re growing slowly.
It’s either managed in your home country
and unmanaged everywhere else or [it’s]
Egencia because they’re the only ones I’ve
ever found that makes any financial sense
to launch with 20 travelers. You wouldn’t
do that with Concur and a third party. The
local agency doesn’t want it at that size.
That’s the good thing about Egencia.
“Understand the integration piece from end to end and where
you’ll get the reporting because you can find yourself in the
middle of two unwilling partners. Line up whatever solution
and partners you will use. Can they really meet reporting and
—STANDARD INSURANCE’S BRYAN REDMOND
“Make sure you own your data, can access it in the manner
that works best for you and [can] share it with third parties
as you see fit.”
—TABLEAU’S JENNIE ROBERTSON