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Jet, Set, Go: How data science can make business travelers happier and more productive

March 20, 2018


By Peter Ashworth
SVP Central and Eastern Europe, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Almost everyone who has traveled for work can recall a time when they arrived at their destination dog-tired and woefully unprepared.

If a significant amount of your mental energy is spent hailing a cab to the airport at 5 am, or trying to finish a presentation during a layover punctuated with shrill flight announcements, you’re not going to be at your best when you walk into that important meeting.

In fact, stressful travel experiences can wreak havoc on a company’s finances. According to a Harvard study, lack of sleep leads to the loss of 11.3 days’ worth of productivity every calendar year.

Spending more where it matters makes sense. In practice, that means looking beyond marginal savings on things like flights.

Complicated itineraries may be fine for a teenage backpacker – where the journey is the destination – but not for a salesperson tasked with clinching The Deal.

If the cheapest ticket involves a dawn flight and a layover, that salesperson could land in Lagos or Ankara, tired and resentful – knowing they could have taken a non-stop flight at a sensible hour. Those 100 euros “outside the travel policy” condemned them to the flight from hell. That’s a false economy.

Several zeros worth of lost business can be tacked onto that 100 when the salesperson fails to clinch the deal.

Our data scientists look at ways to help clients avoid losses, concentrate their spend, and ultimately balance the budget with health and happiness.

By looking at data sets such as sickness information from HR systems, for example, fascinating patterns in human behavior can be measured – in ways that are persuasive to decision makers (i.e. hard cash). For example, you can look at HR data around sick leave. If your top people are on that red eye to Tokyo every week, eventually they will get sick and need time off – that’s a fact. The data will tell you when you need to ease off on the travel – and what policies are best for productivity.

The possibilities are endless. We can use data to plot cost versus profit, incentivize people to follow the rules, understand when travelers drop out of the booking process and tweak policies to help parents, attract talent, and increase diversity.

Data science provides an unprecedented opportunity to make travelers happier and more productive – and companies more profitable. 

Blog Author: Peter Ashworth, SVP Central and Eastern Europe, Carlson Wagonlit Travel


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