Standing out with data analytics requires hard work and a little bit of magic

How one corporate travel firm is using analytical methods to craft a unique offering in five steps, writes Ritesh Gupta

For Rocketrip, a firm focused on simplifying business travel, data plays a pivotal role in shaping the future. Launching an offering based of a proprietary algorithm is one way to harness the power of data but there are other use cases too.

“We use it to drive everyday decisions including optimising the user experience and most importantly our client companies’ savings,” says Gillian Tee, the co-founder of Rocketrip. 

The team has identified five core ways to maximise the use of data. They are to:

1. Aid decision-making of business travellers

According to Tee, the team is focused on making professional travel personal, providing a reward and incentive-based platform to make business travel as cost-efficient as personal travel.

“A classic example is using insights into a company’s custom travel spend and behaviour to motivate employees to book air travel earlier. We are confident statistically that this moves the needle on increasing savings,” she says.

As an example the team closely considers market price fluctuations for air travel up to a month prior to a trip. Then they look at other variables that may influence outcomes such as regular routes taken by a specific company, or even time of travel and pricing trends between non-stop versus connecting flights.

“On this basis we can make recommendations on travel options that employees can use to optimise spend, like booking early or providing bundles and packages powered by our external API integrations that we know employees can select to further reduce spend,” she says.  

2. Use data for niche insights

One example is that Rocketrip looks at price sensitivity according to a particular user group in an entity. Take organisational departments, for example.

“We often come across sales departments that have a different set of travel policies and therefore expected behaviour,” says Tee.

This means that the firm is able to provide travel managers with a level of insight on travel spend by department, as well as employee and the trip type. Says Tee: “Sometimes we become the catalyst by which they think through their travel spend spliced and diced by these segments”.

Rocketrip aims to provider a holistic user view by analysing transactional emails, communicating workflows and even positioning a button in the right place.

“Certain metrics, like churn also tell a good branding story. We try to look at branding across all our touchpoints, including offline and and A/B test everything,” she says.

3. Evaluate product development from the top-down and bottom-up

Top-down relates to understanding and fine tuning the market-product fit. For example, by considering the trend to open booking and consumerised behaviour in business travel,  Rocketrip can help bring their employees through the funnel, says Tee. Bottom-up, on the other hand, relates to product-user fit, where the firm aims to retrieve detailed user feedback. It’s hard to get it right the first time but the more times you iterate, the better the outcome.”

4. Keep the magic of algorithms alive aims for smart algorithms to calculate price limits based on fair market prices in real time. 

The data science team digs deep into the travel pricing domain as well as using analytical methods to look into the price distribution.

There are a few levels of data Rocketrip trudges through, including:

  • Trip-level data
  • Data on the company’s policy
  • Basic inventory
  • How market data is spread at any one-given time.

“It’s important to bridge that analysis with technical feasibility when it comes to implementation as well,” says Tee.

5. Assess user behaviour

Rocketrip looks at aspects like average savings per trip, the number of days an employee books in advance and so on.

“We also look at scenarios to categorise good behaviour as we want to incentivise users,” Tee says.

For example, the system has shown up high instances of employees staying with a friend on business travel which saves the company. “We’re continuing to learn user behaviour and build on our insights. And because we power savings through points and monetary rewards, we also drive competition and define a virtual economy.”

The team uses a leaderboard to drive engagement and let employees compete on points earned. Travel managers can also check the engagement level.

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