"The only way that we can serve our travelers is by turning them into data," travel management provocateur Eric Bailey told BTN. Bailey is better known as Microsoft's director of travel, venue sourcing and payment. He has pretty much ditched travel policy for Microsoft's 75,000 travelers in exchange for a traveler-centric approach. Machine learning has emerged as critical to the effort. "We can't know all of our travelers," he said. "What we can do is take their data and turn it back into travelers—or at least types of travelers. That's how we're using machine learning now." Microsoft travel manager for compliance and analytics Marta Rodriguez explained more: "Machine learning allows us to cluster travelers and build persona types based on behavioral features: bookings, expenses, history, everything we know." That gives the Microsoft travel team a solid foundation for setting up its travel solutions and defining its sourcing strategies based on those personas and the needs of those types of travelers. Rodriguez said Microsoft has four different traveler types. Letting machines do the number crunching is making the travel team "very efficient listeners." She said, "We have a lot of data streams that we can integrate together, and we can really get to the key messages that travelers are throwing to us." Get the full story at Business Travel News