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TRAVEL BUYER


Martin Ferguson talks to Rachel D’Alton, global procurement support at multinational consumer packaging company Rexam


Tell us about your responsibilities, and how you got into this role. I’ve been working with the procurement team at Rexam for the last two years. My role covers a lot of areas: within the travel category I manage our travel management company [TMC] and online booking tool [OBT] relationships, monitor global travel spend, and analyse compliance and traveller behaviour. I am also accountable for negotiating preferred rates with key suppliers across the supply chain: airlines, hotels, car hire, corporate cards and so on. I specifically manage the company hotel programme, and much of my time is spent revising global travel policy. Initially, I was in a support role to the global procurement team – but I recognised there was an opportunity to work on the managed travel segment. I had previous experience with hotel negotiations and event management, so it made sense for me to take on more responsibility in travel management.


How many travellers and trips does your team handle in a year? Rexam has 8,000 employees globally. Of those, approximately 800 travel regularly. Our travellers consist of engineers, auditors, senior managers and directors.


How is your team structured? I am part of the global procurement team and report directly to the global indirects manager and the chief procurement officer. We engage with our colleagues in risk management and HR regarding travel and safety policies. Rexam has offices and


plants in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, North and South America. Each of these territories has an indirect manager who is responsible for travel. Some travellers book their own travel; others are supported by the PA responsible for their team, while those working at our plants usually have an administrator who is able to assist with travel arrangements.


What are some of the key elements of your policy? As safety is one of Rexam’s core values, our focus is on traveller tracking and ensuring our people are safe when travelling. We get our travellers to book their travel through our OBT where possible, and offline with our TMC if it’s not. The other key component focuses on using preferred suppliers, which allows us to leverage better deals with airlines, hotels and car rental companies. Travel classes are determined by duration of flight.


How do you convince travellers to comply with policy? We updated our policy earlier this year, mandating the use of our OBT and TMC and ensuring travellers use preferred suppliers. The key to traveller compliance is education – making sure travellers realise how important it is from a personal safety perspective that the company is able to track where they are travelling to. Through our expense tool we are able to determine which travellers are booking out of policy and work with them to overcome any barriers they might have.


I’m excited by the sharing economy and the savings it could deliver


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What are some of the biggest challenges you face? Ensuring travellers comply with company policy as well as capturing actual spend, and managing that spend as efficiently and effectively as possible.


What makes the relationship with your TMC and supplier partners successful? Having a strong relationship with your TMC and supplier partners is essential for a travel coordinator. I have found that being open and honest is the key. It is so important to engage with them, raise concerns before they become problems.


How do you structure your programme in terms of online solutions? The OBT varies by region. Rexam reviewed the possibility of introducing the same OBT globally. However, the tool currently being used does not provide a suitable global solution. As a result, we are using the same OBT in North America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, while our South American colleagues use a separate tool. Payment solutions also vary by region dependant on local requirements. We use lodge cards in some countries, payment cards in others and individual travellers pay with their own credit cards in the rest.


What are your thoughts on the sharing economy? I’m excited by it and the savings it could deliver; but from a risk management perspective it creates numerous challenges. However, I don’t think it is something we can shy away from – it’s a huge growth area, particularly when you consider the rise of millennial travellers, who are much more open to the sharing economy.


What excites you most about the future? The rapid change in technology, which I think can really drive down costs and will hopefully offer better safety and security.


What would you be if you were not a travel coordinator? A teacher.


Rexam is a leading global beverage-can maker, headquartered in London. It has a history dating back to the 19th century and supplies many of the world’s biggest brands. It has over 50 production plants worldwide and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


BBT JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 41


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