Study: Cloudy metrics are major barrier to quality management in business travel

Travel buyers are always working to improve the travel experience for their organizations and employees, but the metrics best suited to evaluate the success of those improvements are misunderstood and underused. Those are the findings of “Quality Management in Business Travel 2.0,” a new study published by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with BCD Travel.

Travel buyers are always working to improve the travel experience for their organizations and employees, but the metrics best suited to evaluate the success of those improvements are misunderstood and underused. Those are the findings of “Quality Management in Business Travel 2.0,” a new study published by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with BCD Travel.

“This study creates a unique opportunity for the industry to come together and transform the way we measure the quality of travel programs,” said Leigh Bochicchio, executive director, ACTE. “Creating a well-framed rubric for gathering objective and subjective data will provide a more balanced view of the value and success of a corporate travel program – and the corporate travel manager.” ACTE and BCD Travel representatives gathered data from a total of 221 participants attending various focus group sessions hosted by the organizations in the U.S., Canada and Brazil between April and September 2019.

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Spend and savings are most popular measurements for travel buyers

Travel buyers partly base program success on key financial metrics: Spend and savings continues to be the most popular form of measurement, with 91% of travel buyers using this data to inform their travel programs. Buyers also track booking statistics (84%).

But, travel buyers want to better understand traveler needs

But travel buyers want more; 52% think measuring factors like trip success and traveler friction can help their organization better understand traveler needs, as well as improve services (47%) and policy compliance (37%).

“Unlike traditional, financial measurements, these types of metrics pose a unique challenge for travel buyers – they are inherently subjective to the traveler, and there isn’t a single, industry-wide definition for them, which is making it very tricky to measure,” said Miriam Moscovici, senior director, Research & Innovation at BCD Travel.

Barriers to change

Travel buyers suggest a lack of reliable data is a key obstacle to measuring their program’s success. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents say important metrics are difficult to measure accurately: Available data can be fragmented (29%) and unreliable (21%). As a result, buyers are left having to draw conclusions from incomplete data sets, creating a greater margin of error when making changes to the travel program.

When it comes to measurements like trip success, travel buyers currently rely on self-reported traveler feedback. Respondents find this method of data collection particularly unreliable, with 40% saying it can be misleading, and 33% saying they tend to receive a low response rate to requests for traveler feedback.

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