Business Intel/Data Mining

Travel Spend Data

»Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Business Intel/Data Mining | 0 comments

The General Services Administration solicitation for a management information system solution is the next logical step forward in trying to capture the data necessary to get a handle on overall spending, to identify travel patterns, to negotiate rates, and to make statistical data available that will prove invaluable for the various agencies. Overall spending: Today trying to gather government travel data is virtually impossible. Every department is doing its own thing and there is no easy way to capture the statistical information needed to control costs, to reduce spending, and to set budgets. Travel patterns: It is very difficult to know what you need without destination and vendor spend. Today each agency is meeting its mission without regard for what a sister...

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TRX & Business Intelligence

»Posted by on Dec 30, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The contract with TRX to implement a Business Intelligence system is absolutely the logical next step. Even with ETS and DTS, the federal government still has too many vendors transmitting data to effectively track and manage their travel programs. Having a single consolidated data warehouse from which reports can be generated will provide the government the appropriate tool to manage travel. What was surprising to me about solicitation TFL06-RH-1040 was the vast scope and limited timeline of the project. The project requires that TRX establish data feeds with not only DTS and the three ETS vendors, but also with: multiple charge card vendors (presumably GE Capital, Chase, Citibank, US Bank) every government TMC/CTO (which I understand there are approximately...

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Data Warehousing Challenges

»Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining | 0 comments

In reading the Section 4B curriculum, I began to think on the difficulties that TRX, Inc. will experience in trying to gather and consolidate this information.  As a global sales staff member with a major chain (owned, managed, and franchised hotels), I encounter challenges with gathering some of this information for our individual clients for just our hotels.  TRX, Inc. will be trying to reconcile the information from potentially hundreds or thousands of sources. In the hotel realm, the government traveler does not book one set rate category.  As a hotel company, we have a difficult time in tracking which consumed room nights are government travelers as they may have booked with a government contracted travel entity, but the rate may not have been designated...

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Central Contracting Registration

»Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

On October 1, 2003 in order for any supplier to be awarded federal government contract it became necessary to be registered on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Database.  When this directive was mandated, our national sales team took the initiative to educate our hotel community and assisted them in completing this registration process. Registration on the CCR needs to occur once per year to maintain an active status.  Because having an active CCR standing is now and “absolute” in terms of doing business with the federal government, we have consistently observed that more contracting officers, meeting planners, third parties and other business drivers are insisting on having this information upfront in the solicitation process. Recently, we have...

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ETS Receipt Management Tool

»Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

On September 22, 2006 the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) was amended to mandate the use of the Receipt Management tool within an Electronic Travel System (ETS).  Within the Per Diem section of the FTR a statement was added, which states that hard copy, receipts should be electronically scanned and submitted with your electronic travel claim when your agency has this capability available with the use of the ETS.  Additionally it is stated that Approving Officials are now required to review the attached electronic receipts during their review/approval process. At our agency, Travelers are responsible for making sure that their receipts are attached correctly and the attachment is legible.  All receipts for air, lodging, rental car, and any single expense greater...

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Procurement and Management, the Federal Travel Disconnect

»Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

When considering travel programs, program management and procurement are both essential.  Once travel is procured, the role of the program manager is to focus on getting the maximum value from any and all negotiated agreements through careful follow up, tracking, and compliance monitoring. In turn, suppliers are more inclined to offer better deals if they believe the corporate client closely tracks usage, trains travelers, and communicates policy in ways that lead to significantly higher compliance levels.  It is the combination of procurement and program management that leads to effective overall travel programs.  In this paper I explore and assess the federal government’s approach to procurement and program management, and offer recommendations to...

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Data Collection and the Importance of Mandates

»Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

One way to measure the cost savings is through reporting from the TMC.  The collection of data will break down air, car, hotel and credit card spend with Ad Hoc reporting capabilities.  However, a non-mandated travel program makes it difficult to ensure cost savings to the organization. Reporting to Senior Management should reflect true costs associated with your program, unfortunately, as noted, all data may not be captured.   It is important for management to realize the benefits of mandating the use of the TMC and preferred vendors to better leverage discounts for the organization. Some of our greatest savings are obtained by mandating hotel bookings through our program.  As an example, we used to capture 50% of bookings through our on-line booking tool or...

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Payment Methods/Business Intelligence

»Posted by on Aug 9, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

In sections 4a and 4b of the Certified Government Travel Professional Training Course, the areas of Payment Methods and Business Intelligence, Data Mining, and Data Warehouse are explained. These are relatively short sections but included a lot of great information. The electronic payment and reimbursement procedures used by the U.S. Postal Service are very easy and efficient. All authorized personnel who travel on a regular basis are issued VISA GSA SmartPay 2 cards. When we make our reservations thru our online Omega procedures, our credit card information is already in the system and our airline charges are automatically billed. Upon return from travel, we have a system called “E-Travel” and we enter all of our authorized travel expenses in the program. It...

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The Travel Industry and the Government

»Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, History and Overview | 0 comments

As the government spends about 2.5 billion annually on business employee travel expenses, the travel industry and the government have created a well- rounded partnership. This partnership explains in depth the understanding of the contracting requirements, acquisition rules and travel regulations. Communication on this information is essential between the two partners. The travel industry initiated different methods in order for government employees to have a thorough understanding of the travel industry and its regulations, etc. These methods were presented to the employees by means of conferences and educational sessions. These educational events are very informative for people to learn and expand their knowledge inn this industry. Educational conferences are...

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Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

E-Gov Travel Systems have emerged over the past decade as part of the President’s Management Agenda. The idea of automating a previously paper intensive process naturally sounds like a smart idea. The difficulties begin starting with the change management process. It is a huge learning curve to overcome when travelers are used to the old paper process, possibly still using form fillers and looking up per diem rates; then switching to an electronic paperless process. You have to get buy in from every level of the organization to achieve a successful transition. Involvement of the core team of those bureaus and offices affected by the transformation is also critical from the very beginning of the process. Another difficulty is with only 3 vendors to choose from,...

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Business Practices

»Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

The travel manager role, as this chapter mentions, does require great talent in multi-tasking. During implementation, a good project plan is vital to make sure all tasks are accomplished. The travel manager has to ensure all TMC profiles are loaded, lines of accounting are loaded, and that the routing chains for all travelers are established. Charge card information has to be loaded and correct so that tickets are issued timely as a self-service transaction. An organization with thousands of travelers causes this type of workload to grow exponentially. Normally, the travel manager is not only responsible for all the E-Gov Travel tasks, but has to provide policy guidance as well. Although the E-Gov Travel system has automated many aspects of the travel document...

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Credit Cards – Getting A Bad Rap?

»Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The GSA website provides an interesting perspective on the issue of the misuse of Government Smartpay credit cards. We have all seen stories about Government employees using Smartpay cards to make outrageous purchases, but are these articles the tip of an iceberg of misuse or an abberation? A reading of various FAQs on the site suggests that the credit cards have received a bad rap not because they are widely misused, but because the system readily discloses such misuse, exposing those who try to use the cards for improper purposes. GSA contends that misuse accounts for only a very small percentage of overall use. According to GSA, banks under contract to the Smartpay program must provide an assortment of protections against misuse. Under the program agencies may...

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What Is IATA?

»Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

What does having an IATA mean? Do you need one to book a reservation on your own? Do I need to use the DTS to book my reservation? What amenities come with my room? It is not easy to get an IATA number but IATA numbers are basically the Travel agent’s ID number; this is also used to identify individual travel companies so that they will receive a commission check once the person has traveled to the destination.  When you put the IATA number in, it’s not for the discount…it’s so the companies know which travel agent to pay the commission to. To get the travel agency rate, you generally need to get the right rate codes (at least with rental cars & hotels – not sure how airlines interact with the GDS systems since they do not get paid...

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Understanding the Government

»Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

One of the most critical factors in determining whether the government market is real business fit for a hotel is contingent on whether there are local government business drivers that exist in that hotel’s competitive set.  In the final analysis, local government customers will steer nearly all the government volume that generates into a specific region. Having a solid understanding of who the local government players are, and further understanding their collective needs are perhaps the most important tactical components of penetrating and properly selling to government clients. In this age of revenue optimization, one question hotels must consider is whether the prevailing per diem for lodging is acceptable?  If the answer is yes, then the hotel is...

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Line of Accounting Enhancement

»Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview | 0 comments

One of the most significant projects I participated on while working with an EGOV Travel application was the planning, design, and development of an update line of accounting module.  This was an eighteen month project in which we worked in conjunction with the EGOV Travel vendor to redesign the line of accounting module.  The enhanced line of accounting  module offered several improvements over the prior module of which the most significant would include enabling travelers to more easily identify and select accounting, provide additional security by limiting accounting available to travelers, and improve the accounting conditional routing options. The prior accounting module housed each line of accounting under a unique accounting label for each...

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Global Distribution Systems — Information Flow

»Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Section 2a discusses Global Distribution Systems. Although I am sure that it must exist somewhere, I have not seen a recent diagram that shows the flow of information throughout a travel transaction. By a travel transaction, I am referring to the following components: Vendors (airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, other) GDS Travel Agencies Traveler (or end user) The data flow used to be rather straightforward, in that the vendor supplied data to the GDS, the GDS to the travel Agency, and the Travel Agency to the traveler. However, through technology and financial tightening there are now myriad other methods for securing travel. Those include: Vendor-direct call centers or websites Alternate GDS (ITA, G2, Farelogix, INS) Corporate Travel Departments, On-line...

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ETS and the FTR

»Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

A major benefit of converting to an E-Gov travel system is that the system enforces travelers to comply with the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR).  The FTR governs what expenses the traveler is allowed to claim and what requirements must be met in order to conduct official travel on behalf of the Government.  An agency may also have a travel policy which is stricter than the FTR.  The E-Gov travel system can also be set up to reflect some of the agency’s requirements in addition to the FTR requirements. Pre-audits have been built into the electronic system, which makes the travelers follow the guidelines. The E-Gov travel system has a built-in reservation module, which allows travelers/document preparers to select their airfare reservations.  Travelers...

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Business Intelligence/Data Mining “Strategic Travel Management”

»Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices | 0 comments

Business intelligence, data mining, reporting all are the key to future best practices of Travel Management whether it is corporate or government travel.  Without data one cannot make strategic decisions, improve efficiencies, and reduce expenses while improving the customer experience. For Government travel this has been a challenge and continues to plague the market sector.  Getting one’s hands around the information is difficult at best and when you finally do receive the information it has been hard to verify the accuracy. Removing obstacles for data to be processed without the invasion of personal information is the key to our future in this business. TRX, Government, and Suppliers need to create a commons set of standards in reporting that provides...

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Data Collection Under the TRX MIS Contract: Implementation, Deployment, and Strategic Sourcing Issues

»Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

The GSA (General Services Administration) often enters into City-Pairs negotiations hampered by a relative lack of hard data on Government travel.  Where substantive data has been available it has not been as detailed or as encompassing as the Government requires to effectively support negotiations.  This lack of effective data caused the Travel Program management Office (PMO) of the GSA to conduct an Full and Open competition for a vendor that could provide services to make up for this lack of information.  The solicitation requirement was to obtain the best travel data aggregation and reporting solution that satisfied government requirements at the best value.  A trade-off analysis was performed between technical and cost and past performance to make the...

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Data Mining, A Complete End-to-end Solution is Needed

»Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in Business Intel/Data Mining | 0 comments

When it comes to data mining and collecting all of the information available to review compliance and leverage travel spend, once a completely integrated tool is developed and proven, we will still conduct our analysis the manual way.    The primary pieces that states have access to is the back end reporting provided by the travel agency and the credit card transaction reports. Oregon also has access to car rental information from our contracted car rental provider. Gathering airline and car rental spend is easy, just contact the TMC or car rental contractor.  The challenge that we face is gathering the hotel spend, especially the instate hotel spend where there is no air travel involved.   Since only ten percent of the states travelers use the...

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