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Where can I find industry data to compare my corporate travel spend?

When it comes to measuring travel spend, most companies want to know: how do they measure up? In order to benchmark your travel program and determine where your spend falls in the broader scheme of corporate travel, the better to approach negotiations with that awareness, you need data beyond your own company spend.

Here’s a corporate travel open secret, as it can be easy to overlook: the access to the data you need is not difficult. The key is what you do with the data.

What To Do with Corporate Travel Spend Data

When KesselRun approaches this question for a client, we obtain data from a number of sources. First and foremost, know what you are planning to do with the data: if you know how you intend to action it, you are in a better position to determine the best source to obtain it from.

For instance, if you are looking to forecast expense increases in travel, the data you need will be industry-driven. It is important, though, to understand that projections are just that; as 2020 illustrates all too well, travel costs can fluctuate per so many circumstances, from world events and vendor financials to market shifts and more virtual focus. As with weather, forecasts can take sudden turns and require constant monitoring; they are a helpful and often critical guide, but travel program plans should never be dependent on this information. With that caveat, here are third-party sources travel experts turn to for industry news:

PricewaterhouseCoopers at times puts out industry projections and shares hospitality market findings.

Phocuswright is a provider of travel, tourism, and hospitality market research. For reports and research articles, as well as news broken and curated by Phocuswright’s global editorial team, Phocuswright offers that access on a subscription basis with key, popular information made available for free.

BTN, short for Business Travel News, lives up to its name, covering managed business travel and meetings. In addition to its print and digital editions, BTN offers free e-newsletters, which KesselRun strongly recommends all travel managers, or anyone involved in corporate travel, add to their incoming inbox.

While most business industry news is free, with major stories to changes in airlines being picked up broadly by news networks, you may want to consider subscription to The Company Dime: their journalists’ focus is on insight and analysis, putting the news in context and having experts weigh in.  KesselRun partner Brandon Strauss has contributed as one of The Company Dime’s advisors from the field, a series of guideposts from industry leaders focused on opinion, analysis, and education.

Projections aside: where can you find hard data, for benchmarking in particular?

The aforementioned BTN shares yearly car rental rates and other travel index information, without charge.

GBTA, the Global Business Travel Association—offers an airline benchmarking study as well as other benchmarking tools. Of note, GBTA’s data source is actually Department of Transportation data! These airfare reports, however, are limited to GBTA members, so if you are not already a GBTA member, consider whether you need access to that data next time you weight that option.

ARC, the Airlines Reporting Corporation, is the largest repository of all US-settled travel spend, including city-pair specific and cabin class details.

PRISM, part of Sabre Airline Solutions, consolidates data on behalf of airlines and corporations; you may be familiar with PRISM data as shared by any partner airlines in quarterly business reviews, as this data is used by most airlines as part of monitoring corporate contract performance.

For hotels, Lanyon (now part of Cvent) and TripBam offer very-specific hotel property level data; newcomer Hotel RFP tool ReadyBid is also building out hotel benchmarking to offer data specific to your program that we expect to grow significantly in coming years. These tools all require subscriptions.

Before paying for any data, review what you already have access to: your vendor partnerships and especially your travel management company, as well as internal monitoring for expense, may well provide all you need.

Any data you acquire beyond this should be purpose-driven.

While you can use industry news and forecasts, remember, given the variety of factors at play in travel, your best performance gauge will always be your company’s own year-over-year data. You are your own best measurement; your past is your true competition, to outperform and set future bars. As such, strong internal data, both through your travel management company and on the expense end, is your best ally—and obtaining and maintaining that data should be one of your program’s goals and strengths. Even more so than historical performance, specific insights about your organization’s business objective and future plans, which you can bring up in vendor conversations and negotiations, can empower all travel decision-making: open lines of communication between your varying departments, as all touch travel, may prove better than any data you can buy.

We hope this post will provide a valuable resource to you. Should you have any questions on taking a deeper dive, how to action data once obtained, or how data should be employed in the changed world of 2020 and post-2020 travel, know that you can always contact KesselRun for further information and our services.