Travelling with The UN

The United Nations (UN) Agency for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), serviced globally by CWT, has a well-structured travel management programme, with special requirements that include keeping costs low and travellers safe. Sasa Carpenada interviews their travel manager to find out how.

The FAO is a United Nations specialised agency whose primary objective is achieving food security for all and to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. The FAO is currently present in 152 countries with over 10,000 employees.

We interviewed Preethi Braganza, head of travel for the Food and Agriculture Organization based in the Headquarters in Rome. CWT has been the global TMC for FAO since 2008.

What are your tasks in more details?

I am responsible for the management of FAO’s global travel programme, which covers policy, processes, the ERP travel system, and travel supplier contracts.

Why did FAO decide to have an implant, dedicated team of travel consultants from CWT?

A significant proportion of FAO’s travel is administered through the FAO headquarters in Rome (where the CWT team operates). FAO travel is predominantly to developing countries so travel requirements are often complex with a good portion of travel being multiple sector itineraries and to areas where availability of flights and pricing options is limited.

What are the areas you have focused your attention on?

“FAO’s focus has been on cost containment, in order to do more with less and reduce the per trip costs. Over the past few years, FAO has worked with CWT to implement significant changes to its travel programme, both in the area of policy and technology, to improve efficiency and make savings.

Our partnership with CWT in the implementation of technology and policy compliance has helped us structure the programme and continue to improve on this as well as our partnership with specialised CWT’s business divisions.

Safety and security is increasingly important. How do you ensure traveller safety?

The UN agencies continue to work in areas of the world where increased security and safety risks are part of the work and hence this puts UN employees at a higher risk. So apart from the duty of care services provided by CWT, the UN has a well-developed system to enable the monitor and track the safety and security of UN personnel worldwide.

What role does technology play in your programme?

Technology is of paramount importance today. A global implementation of the central ERP system to all FAO offices worldwide was undertaken several years ago that has given the organisation substantial benefits like the automation of workflows, standardization of data and processes and consolidation of data.   

Let us talk about reporting. Did the reporting tool help you to identify further areas for improvement?

Trying to manage a travel programme without the data to back it up is like running with a blindfold on!

As a travel manager, having an advanced analytical and reporting tool with real time data (CWT Analytics, ed.) has been absolutely essential.  For FAO having real time robust and online reporting capability has been a major differentiator with the appointment of a global TMC.  

Availability of data and reports has been a key contributor to many of the initiatives, improvements, and savings measures that have been implemented over the past several years for example global and local airline agreements, the implementation of a global hotel programme are just two ways the policy and programme has changed.

Why has CWT and FAO had such a long standing relationship – what are the benefits?

FAO has a completely decentralised front end booking process, so all divisions, departments and offices are completely independent in the pre-trip process.

The breadth and range of CWT’s products and services have helped us widen the scope of our managed travel function very effectively. We have partnered very strongly with CWT in the implementation of a new custom built travel system with our ERP and this partnership has been invaluable in every phase of the project from defining requirements, user testing as well as post implementation support.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).