< PrevNext > Data Strategy Will Step to the Forefront By Traxo chief commercial officer Cara Whitehill / 27 January 2017 Share 2017 will see data strategy emerge as a foundational priority for both corporate travel managers and the travel management companies they work with: How do you capture the full spectrum of travel booking data, regardless of where or how it's booked?For the employee, the process of planning, shopping, booking, taking and expensing a business trip is time consuming. And that's before they get to the real work for the trip itself: closing the deal, attending the conference, meeting the client.For the corporate travel manager, the process of managing a company's travel activity becomes exponentially more complex when multiplied by the number of traveling employees, booking sites, TMCs, mobile apps, forms of payment and suppliers involved. As programs get more flexible, either intentionally or when travelers take booking and supplier matters into their own hands, the need to keep up with the data sources becomes more critical.Even programs with strong mandates and compliance can experience some gaps in data coverage. You can't manage what you can't see.This, of course, is not news. In the Global Business Travel Association's 2015 TMCs Today and Tomorrow study of U.S.-based travel managers, 55 percent ranked data analysis/performance measurement/reporting as a top-three priority from their TMCs for the following five years. In a separate 2015 GBTA study called Travel Manager 2020, 57 percent of travel managers ranked leveraging/analyzing travel data to track program performance as a top-three most time-consuming activity. Bottom line: Everyday data management is important, time consuming and not suitably addressed by existing tools in the market.This year, data strategy will move to the center of the corporate travel program and will drive decisions on the downstream service providers they enlist, from TMCs to expense management applications to duty of care providers to corporate booking tools. For those service providers, the ability to capture and integrate that data into their respective tools will no longer be a value add in 2017; rather, it will become the price of admission. The trends toward traveler self-service booking, supplier-direct booking incentives, enhanced mobility tools and policy flexibility aren't going away. Companies that recognize this and focus on developing a comprehensive data strategy for their travel programs will be best positioned to get ahead—and stay ahead—of the intelligence curve.