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Some industry conferences debate whether buying travel is the same as purchasing paperclips (spoiler alert: it’s not). So how do procurement professionals tackle travel as one of many categories in their portfolio?


Omaha, Nebraska, took on responsibility for travel for the first time in his career when he joined the technology firm a year ago. “Before I joined, we historically had not


spent a lot of time thinking about travel,” he tells BBT. “People wanted to book travel themselves through Kayak or Priceline. But if something went wrong, travellers had to reach out to our employee experience team and call them to say their flight has been can- celled. It was not ideal for them to get calls in the middle of the night.” Isom quickly realised travel was challeng- ing for Flywheel’s employees who mostly only travel to attend four annual staff meetings – two at head office, plus events in Australia and Europe. “Within my first couple of months it


became a pain point – what we were hearing was that people were having bad travel experiences and were not looking forward to travelling, because the flights were inconven- ient with a long layover,” he explains. Flywheel is now working with travel man- agement software specialist Lola as part of the company’s first move to a managed travel programme. “We moved to Lola as we wanted some- thing that was easy to use with a tool and app


buyingbusinesstravel.com


that was really easy to adopt. We also put in a policy and reporting to give us visibility,” says Isom. “On top of that, we also wanted access to 24/7 support for our travellers, so when a flight was cancelled they could reach out to Lola support – that’s been a game-changer. “We’ve been with Lola for about a year. We get little leakage – everybody is using the tool.”


PRICE ISN’T ALWAYS RIGHT For all the talk of focusing on the experience of the traveller, those organisations with the strictest procurement processes can still find it hard not to just go down the route of securing the cheapest flight or hotel deal, particularly during the RFP (request for proposal) tender process.


These views are also reflected in a new


report produced by Clarity, with input from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), entitled The Rules of Business Travel Have Changed. Have You?


Clarity argues that simply pursuing the


cheapest option within a travel programme cannot only be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of an organisation’s employees, but can often mean missing out on the potential benefits achieved by “taking a longer, broader view” of the travel programme.


2019 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 97


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