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“We’re in a neighbourhood where we have a high amount of boutique properties,” he explains. “Bou- tiques have a lot of advantages because they offer an elevated hotel experience compared to corporate big box hotels – they are really successful at going above and beyond. They can also offer comparable benefits to what travellers receive from loyalty programmes.” Having set up this hotel programme, Honig has promoted it heavily through the company’s intranet and making them “very visible” on the booking tools. “We have a great adoption rate with our preferred


properties,” he adds. “We’re reaping the rewards because we’ve got great deals in nice hotels.” Making life easier for travellers is also evident in


the way Medidata’s airline programme is run. “We have a lot of people in New Jersey so asking them to go to JFK is not great as it’s going to take two-and-a-half hours to get there,” says Honig. “Understand which airports are acceptable to your travellers and which airlines have the best services.” Honig also says it’s important to start any


programme “conservatively” and build up relationships with suppliers. “Be careful not to overpromise and say to hotels you can give them hundreds of room nights,” he adds. “It may be tempting to look for a quick solution but if you can’t keep your end of the bargain, the hotel may sever that relationship. “It’s important to establish your reputation and show how much volume you’re delivering.” Honig says buyers should not overlook the advantages of using a TMC even if being charged a transaction fee may not go down well initially. “A TMC is important for data and safety reasons, as well as documenting and reporting,” he adds. “They can also give you data on benchmarks to work with hotels.”


EARLE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PROCUREMENT Buro Happold


When Thomas joined interna- tional engineering consultancy Buro Happold, the company operated a “decentralised” travel programme with each region


operating autonomously. His task was to bring this into one global programme


with one TMC, which ended up being ATPI Group. “The first steps were to gain visibility of how the business travelled and our key markets,” he recalls. “We reviewed our organisation’s travel requirements by speaking to the stakeholders in each region. We crosschecked their input with financial data to identify our key markets, ensuring the centralised programme would provide support in these areas.”


As with other buyers, one of the most important stages was getting support and “buy-in” from key stakeholders within the business. “Building engagement was imperative. We had to show how the programme would fit the organisa- tion’s requirements and benefit long term, not just as a short-term fix to save costs,” says Thomas. “It was tricky to win this buy-in in some regions, as they are incentivised on cost savings on the P&L [profit and loss], so they would try and book the cheapest method of travel, possibly not via our chosen TMC and without knowing the potential implications. Educating the wider business on why this is important was imperative.” To improve education, Thomas launched an


BUILDING ENGAGEMENT WAS IMPERATIVE. WE HAD TO SHOW HOW THE PROGRAMME WOULD FIT THE ORGANISATION’S REQUIREMENTS


buyingbusinesstravel.com


intranet giving travellers around the world access to the traveller dashboard – ATPI TravelHub. “Every six to eight weeks we choose a different topic or helpful tool within the travel programme and share information on its features and capabili- ties to educate employees,” explains Thomas. “On the day we went live with ATPI, there was a leaflet drop to all employees detailing the new travel programme, as well as a poster campaign.” He says visibility of travel data is key to the pro-


gramme’s success, with analytics tools monitoring and predicting traveller behaviour on a global scale. “Implementing an analytics tool has been crucial to us in driving compliance, as we can report on out-of-policy bookings which previously were around 40 per cent of all total travel,” adds Thomas. “We write a weekly report for our chief operations officer that details the reasons why travel is out of policy. It gets followed up with each individual trav- eller. There has been a massive reduction in leakage – just 3-4 per cent of bookings are out of policy. “We also report on duty-of-care, and there has


been a spike in adoption of safe verification noti- fications through the use of our traveller tracking tool with ATPI.”


2019 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 79


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