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WORDS CATHERINE CHETWYND


INSPIRE


TRAVEL BUYERQ&A


Building a travel department from the ground up is no easy task, but having previously done this at the RNIB, Chris Day joined National Church Institutions in 2017 to set up a new procurement function


What is your travel spend and where do you spend it?


We are still working through our travel spend because there is no formal process here, other than following travel policy, but we believe it’s about £1.4 million a year. There are seven National Church Institutions; they all seem to do their own thing through four TMCs and we want to try and bring in a joined-up approach so everybody uses the same provider. Some of our staff visit remote locations, which are not served by the major carriers and hotel groups, and we have internal people who book through specialists that provide duty-of-care.


What level of service will you expect from your new TMC?


We are out to tender to seven organisations. We are looking for duty-of-care to staff, ease of booking, value for money, a preferred hotel programme to ensure we get the best for staff wherever they are travelling, good back office data and management information and access to information on a portal via a single sign-on from our intranet about where it is safe to travel and/or where you should not travel. We have a lot of travellers but, at the moment, we don’t know how many. That is part of the problem; we need good management information out of the system because it is difficult to keep track of who is where through expenses.


What are the main differences between working for the church and the RNIB?


Chris Day Head of procurement, National Church Institutions


A number of bodies make up the National Church Institutions (NCIs), including the Church of England Central Services (HR, Finance & Resources, IT, Legal, Communications, Record Centre), and its pensions board, which all undertake work for the Church of England.


We don’t fundraise in the way normal charities do. Our income streams are different. Other than that, it is fairly similar: we still have stakeholders to deal with and have the same way of doing things. We do some things here that other charities don’t, such as finding a provider to remove a mural from a church wall – it is painted on the plaster – so that it can be preserved. The main thing is here, I’m starting from ground zero to build a strategic procurement function.


What is your worst nightmare, and have you ever had to face it?


My worst nightmare would be having problems with traveller safety while they were away. And we faced that when I was at RNIB: we had some travellers in Florida when Hurricane Sandy struck. Our TMC was ahead of the game and moved one of them before the storm and flew the other home. We had a lot of travellers in Scotland when the Icelandic volcano blew and while they weren’t in direct danger, it meant hotel accommodation was needed and train travel – which everyone else wanted to do. Again, our TMC dealt with it; they were very good.


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 49


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