“We have entered a new era of data analysis,” reveals Eleftheria Letsiou, ATPI’s Head of Global Account Management for Shipping.
It is no secret that the turbulent landscape of the shipping sector has refocused the priorities of many maritime organisations, with attention now squared on cost reduction. However, this has brought forth a more holistic and comprehensive approach to creating consistent, long-term savings, with key stakeholders now realising that improved quality of data and management information can contribute greatly to a spend saving strategy.
“Analytics and data have always been key for a successful travel programme,” explains Eleftheria. “However, crew and travel managers are busy and don’t always have the time to pay data the attention that it demands - nor do they have the required skills to inspect data to reveal booking patterns, explain unknown correlations to market trends and transform data into useful information to decrease cost and increase savings.”
Eleftheria likens this to the popular theory of the Iceberg Illusion; “It is often the case that a travel manager will take a look at a simple report in order to save time, but this could be only 10% of the complete picture.”
“It is the era of data analysis and data is only going to become more crucial, so it is vital that organisations are able to identify what lies underneath the surface – in our case what causes the figures - and what corrective actions to take when creating an effective travel programme.”
Reactive vs Proactive
Nowadays it is now not enough to ask what is currently happening in regards to a maritime organisation’s travel, but it’s important to ask and understand 'what will happen if.'
“Analysing data is nothing new – it’s been used in travel management for the last four decades,” Eleftheria explains. “Previously, data has been handled retrospectively and always revealed what had happened and why it happened.”
The industry is now striving for a much more proactive approach to analytics – which is great news for travel management. Rather than just reviewing what’s happened and then setting it aside, predictive analysis brings this data to life. Inspecting data in order to spot trends and use them to change behaviours makes the collection of MI much more valuable, as it can be used to inform data-driven decisions and influence savings strategies.
However, before shipping and ship management companies can achieve a proactive approach to their travel strategy, it’s crucial to review how data is collected and viewed, as getting this right lays strong foundations for a powerful and effective, data-led programme. Eleftheria advises:
1. Look at how data is captured
If data is not communicated by the shipping/ship management company and is only captured correctly from the TMC, then it’s ultimately useless when it comes to crafting a strategy. For example, if information such as nationality or rank is incorrect or missing, then distorted conclusions will be drawn. The integration of travel booking, HR and analytics tools will greatly help this, as it removes the risk of human error.
This can be particularly challenging for global organisations that will need to analyse data from multiple locations and teams – it’s very important that this is collected in a standardised, uniform way using the same process and tools so that it is comparable and can contribute towards spend consolidation. For this to happen, both client and TMC have to mandate and follow procedures.
2. Review attitudes towards potential results
Encouraging key stakeholders of shipping and ship management companies to approach the results of data analysis with an open mind is key – not only do they need to be curious to understand the numbers that lie behind how their travel is booked, but they also need to be willing to implement changes to see results.
3. Decide on your goals
Before spending a lot of time on setting up and monitoring reports, crew or travel managers should gain clarity on what their travel management goals are. This will help to channel focus and ensure that the data that is collected is valuable.
4. Don’t forget your TMC
Your TMC should provide consultative advice and industry information that can strengthen your overall approach to data analysis, so communicating your goals to your account manager should be an early step in the process.