The ACTE Column: Be Fully Informed

The smart manager is the one who can master today's increasing deluge of data

EVERY TWO DAYS we create as much information as we did in entirety up to 2003. And every year the volume of data around the world doubles. These breathtaking statistics highlight the importance for progressive companies to understand what data is available to them and what they can tap into to enhance and grow their business. Far from being boring, data enables strategic planning and offers a competitive advantage.

In the travel sector, technology has made yield management more sophisticated today than it ever was in the past. Online sellers don't just look at what was booked, but at how many times and which pages were looked at, over what timeframe, how far in advance, and which other sites were visited for comparison shopping.

They can make a decision about the user's affluence and status based on the device used and can even embed advertisements to promote lines connected to previous web searches into future searches. In essence, cookie trails enable online suppliers to understand a user's propensity to buy based on a multitude of factors. They use the data they capture to adjust offerings and pricing to entice conversions and increase sales.

Suppliers also use data to plan online marketing strategies to maximise their return on investment. Data available from online searches and booked conversion data enables companies to work out how to spend their marketing dollars. If the majority of confirmed bookings come from a particular region, so many days in advance, that's where and when they will target their marketing funds.

In the managed travel sector, airlines and alliances use sales information systems to track data for global contracting, consolidation, auditing and 'normalising' worldwide data, while supporting safety, compliance and other areas of the managed travel programme.

With these advances, some corporate buyers may feel they are losing control and that their negotiating strength is becoming diluted because suppliers have such wide access to richer data feeds about their travel patterns and potential opportunity. However, while through the use of sophisticated sources of data we will undoubtedly see a fundamental shift in managed travel as we know it, buyers are far from powerless.

On the contrary, the smart progressive travel manager, who is able to identify and interpret information from other business channels for 'what if strategic decision-making purposes, will become a very valuable internal business consultant.

Data is fast becoming a more valuable trading commodity than goods and services so, if you want your business to thrive, you'd better understand it. Developing your own skillset in relation to data will raise your earning potential.

ACTE education programmes around the world continue to focus on catalysts that will affect your job and personal development. Make sure you're part of the debate, and join us.

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