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PROCUREMENT


WORDS ROB GILL


CLASS OF ITS OWN B


UYING TRAVEL CAN BE A DAUNTING prospect for those from a non- travel background, and it’s a different beast from routine procurement of office supplies or other inanimate items. It’s not just that managed business travel is a complex and


multi-faceted procurement category with a host of different suppliers and modes of transport to navigate through; the real issue lies with the humble corporate travellers themselves and their own experiences of life on the road. Talk to those who come from a general pro- curement or finance background and the one issue that shines through is how “emotive” travel is as a subject for employees. This is especially true when things go wrong. Daniel Honig, senior supplier manager, travel, for US-based life sciences technology supplier Medidata Solutions, sums it up neatly: “Everybody talks about travel. When you’re standing in the elevator, you’re often talking about which hotel you’re staying at or asking somebody how their flight was. People are even more likely to talk about their experiences when things go wrong. So in my world, no news is really good news.”


96 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019


Travel really does put procurement spe- cialists in the spotlight more than other cat- egories, says Chris Pouney, from GoldSpring Consulting. He adds: “The level of interest from the business is often a huge shock to anyone who takes travel on for the first time. Travel is a highly symbolic and emotive category and, as such, you get exposure and interest levels far greater than the spend should attract.”


COMPLEX EQUATION While traditional procurement processes for many business items are normally based around securing the lowest price, the equa- tion for buying travel isn’t so simple. Most procurement professionals agree


there’s a balance to be struck between “price and comfort” when it comes to travel. That’s because by booking a traveller on a cheaper but more convoluted airline route, they are unlikely to arrive at their destination in the most productive shape. For those with no experience of procuring or managing business travel, often the only thing they have to fall back on are their own travel experiences.


Steve Isom, vice-president of finance for website hosting firm Flywheel, based in


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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