Unlocking the power of data to track and manage business traveller risks

12 March 2018


In an increasingly connected world, business travel is essential for companies to maintain and expand their global footprint. So it's no surprise that according to the Global Business Travel Association, in 2016 worldwide organisations spent US$1.3 trillion (approx £1 trillion) on business travel. However, together with great opportunities, this can equally be problematic for companies, as authorities are increasingly scrutinising the activities of mobile workers. Authorities recognise that data is accessible; reporting obligations have become necessary and turning a blind eye is no longer an option. The list of challenges can vary from employment tax, corporate tax and social security, to immigration and safety issues and whilst this is not an exhaustive list, they may all arise as employees travel across borders.

Crucial in any organisation's approach to managing the risks is knowing who your business travellers are, where they’re going and what they’re doing. Data is the key to unlocking and tracking this historically “unowned” population. Authorities now have an expectation that you have data available within your systems to identify and manage business traveller risk. Although gathering data can be an onerous exercise as you may have more data available than you think. Do you use a travel provider for travel booking, or a time and expense system for claiming flights and hotels, or an electronic swipe pass system? If the answer to any of these is yes, then combined with information from your HR system, you probably have what you need to get started.

So, you've collected some data but is it good enough to give you the insight you need? How do we know if trips were actually taken? How do we aggregate data without unique identifiers? How do we link trips together to paint a full picture? Raw travel data typically includes a number of false positives. For example, travel booked but not taken, or travel booked but refunded/exchanged. Our data analysis approach strives to clean the raw data so you’re confident the aggregated data paints an accurate picture of who’s travelling where and for how long. This helps to create a powerful and highly visual story of the resultant compliance obligations your business travellers may create for your business.

Every client has unique travel data based on their processes and employee behaviour. Every data-set requires a new approach and different logic to analyse. This logic may include methods of matching travellers based on name similarity, removing refunded trips and matching trips not booked together i.e. return trips showing as outbound flights.

We typically see multiple touchpoints within a company dealing with business travellers, and there's something for everyone within the data. The outputs of the data analysis support companies to improve their compliance, processes and policy and can trigger discussions around how to reduce the costs of business travel.  

If there’s one thing to take away, it’s that every organisation has business travel data which they can use to build a picture that tells their business traveller story. 

Arjun Kumar | Associate, People & Organisation

Sarah Mullen | Senior Manager, People & Organisation