Ever drove a car by only looking in the rear-view mirror? Why drive your travel programme forward that way?
We often spend too much time and energy analysing historical data, which is of course very important to understand how we have been doing and to learn any lessons to adjust course, but relying entirely on that is not going to get us very far. It is just like trying to drive a car by only looking in back mirrors. To move forward and towards the destination we intend to reach, it is very important to look ahead and sideways to navigate our way safely and efficiently.
Now apply that example to your travel programme. Historical booking and expense data is all about what you have done so far and what has resulted from that (cost savings or missed savings for instance), but when you are making decisions regarding how you are going to move forward in your journey it is crucial to understand what lies ahead and what is happening around you. Or in other words, how the developments inside and outside of your organization are going to affect what you spend on travel and how you spend it.
Here are 3 dimensions you should evaluate when making forward-looking decisions.
How is your organization expected to change?
Consider these questions for instance. Is your company opening up or closing down sites in the coming days? Is there a new client project around the corner, which would mean a whole lot of travel to a new destination? Is there a cost transformation drive being planned at the top that may result in travel restrictions? Is there an M&A possibility on the horizon? Whatever questions are relevant for your business and industry, they ought to be part of your thinking process when making strategic decisions about managing or buying travel.
What’s going on with your suppliers and the environment they operate in?
Developments in the supply environment are important to understand as they can bring opportunities or risks for your programme. Here are examples of some of the things you should be thinking about. Is there consolidation happening or expected? Is there a major change in strategy by one of your key suppliers? Is there a new technology or supplier that can help you do things in a better way? In this era of disruptions and fast evolving technology keeping pace with the changes in marketplace has become a must, and for organizations that wish to stay ahead of the curve it is critical to keep an eye on the evolving trends.
What are others doing?
Look around you, learn from peers in your industry, similar organizations in other industries, and benchmark. Unless you know where you stand, it’s almost impossible to tell how far you are from where you want to go. This is also important to consider to understand the full potential of your programme, what seems like good enough may just be average when compared with peers.
In conclusion, historical data only tells part of the story, gives one view of the picture. To be able to make well-rounded decisions that optimise the value of your travel programme it is crucial to understand the environment and what’s coming ahead.
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