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THE CONSULTANT LOUISE MILLER, MANAGING PARTNER, AMERICAS, AREKA CONSULTING


Companies with concentrated spend and big volumes tend to get fewer benefits from rate auditing; if they are using a preferred carrier on their top five routes and most of their traffic is in two or three big cities, a rate auditing tool is not as effective. However, a lot of companies don’t


have such concentrated spend, either geographically or in suppliers, and they do get good value. But the devil’s in the detail, which is why I advise clients that it has to be a combination of tools and human expertise; I see the biggest value when a person gets involved. This applies to any trip that has a complex itinerary – that is where the big money is. Three or four trips between the US and Asia or the US and Europe could cost US$10,000 to US$15,000 per trip and there is a lot of room to make savings but it takes expertise because the content for the trip is not always in one place, so it requires someone to understand what type of content you could pull and from where; you cannot save on a trip like that through a tool. When technology is involved, you


can save 1 or 2 per cent maybe, but the reason clients are sceptical about it is because it generates a lot of emails and intensive communication with travellers for that saving. If I travel every week for work and twice a year I have a complicated trip and someone calls me to say, I know you booked


this way and we can get a much better price for you, I am appreciative because it is probably thousands of dollars’ saving. Conversely, with generic tools, if there is a threshold of, say, a minimum US$50 saving, you get an email saying you have been rebooked and you have to update your confirmation code, re-save the details to your calendar, the ticket number is different, and all because of a US$61 saving over the US$50 threshold. Processes through technology can provide minimum value compared to the hassle they cause. On the hotel side, if rooms are


booked two or three weeks out, we can often find a lower rate in distressed inventory a couple of days from departure. We see less distressed inventory in air – most savings are within 24 hours of the initial booking because air fares usually change every day around midnight and you don’t have to pay a US$200 change fee when you can void the ticket. Otherwise, it is rare you can find a lower fare that generates sufficient savings to cover the cost of paying a TMC to change a ticket, plus the change fee, unless it is a complex transnational trip. All these things are important to


travellers; they want to feel confident but not hassled. There are still around 18 months before many business travellers will be affected by NDC, but that will make it even more confusing.


IF HOTELIERS ARE NOT IN LINE WITH A CAP, WE WILL SPEAK TO THEM ONCE AND THEN LOOK ELSEWHERE


KAREN LEWIS, PROCUREMENT MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM Our travel liaison manager is ex-leisure and she does a benchmarking audit on our hotels. We have 12 locations in the UK and we use the same hotels around these areas. We benchmark against a number of comparable properties and look at the soft benefits for a number of nights over the last quarter or 12 months; it probably takes about two months. We get the best available rate on the night or a fixed rate and soft benefits. We are generally happy with what we pay but we have a cap and if hoteliers are not in line with that, we will speak to them once and then look elsewhere. We are not affiliated to one chain. We have 20 hotels in the UK and have just under 3,000 staff members, up to 2,000 of whom could be travelling over the year. We have very little travel outside the UK. We don’t audit air fares because travellers are mainly equity partners, who own the firm, and they use the airlines they prefer, usually British Airways. For a lot of our domestic travel, we use low-cost carriers.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


2019


JULY/AUGUST


45


THE TRAVEL BUYER


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