Leading venture capitalist firm flourishes, with Carlson Wagonlit Travel supporting them every step of the way
Dedicated to partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams wherever they are in the world, travel is a crucial feature in the lives of venture capitalists at Accel.
"As a business, we invest in companies across Europe and Israel. We need to find those businesses to invest in – and travel to wherever they are. They could be as far north as Sweden, as far south as Spain or as far East as Russia," said Jon Biggs, chief operating officer at Accel, London. "Travel enables us to explore investment opportunities in the most successful emerging companies across Europe."
As Accel has flourished, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has been there every step of the way, with a long-standing relationship going back more than a decade.
CWT programme manager Eileen Lemon and senior travel consultant Gunther Wassertheurer have looked after Accel since 2004 and oversaw the transition to CWT from former TMC Navigant in 2006.
Accel needs its travel management company (TMC) to be agile and flexible while remaining reliable. It requires a VIP service and expects a seamless, stress-free experience for all its travellers.
Jon said: "We need the ability to book itineraries with immediate effect. We need to book flights and hotels at last-minute notice and know that the TMC that’s providing this service is giving all the options and flexibility that we need.
"Life is never perfect and itineraries can change at a drop of a hat, so we need a TMC that can seamlessly make those changes – that’s the most important thing."
CWT’s travel consultants must respond quickly to requests from Accel’s bookers to ensure they obtain the best available seats on the best airlines. The firm also looks to achieve great value from its travel programme and works with CWT to develop a preferred travel programme.
Accel is serviced by a designated team of three highly experienced travel consultants based at CWT’s London Travel Centre, who work closely with all of Accel’s personal assistants.
Each consultant has many years’ experience in the travel industry and has expert knowledge of Accel’s requirements – as a business and as individuals – so they can offer the most appropriate solutions to each request. They maintain traveller profiles in CWT Portrait, ensuring individuals need only be asked once for personal details and preferences.
Longest serving team member Gunther said: "Accel’s bookers need to rely on our decisions. We are here to make life easier for them. We need to know how they work and their expectations so that we can do the thinking for them because we know them so well. It’s about familiarity. We anticipate their needs. We are pro-active rather than just responding to situations."
Requests are met with a refined choice of options to match Accel’s needs. Jon said this was particularly valuable in relation to hotels in cities that the travellers are unfamiliar with. They trust CWT’s recommended hotels will suit their tastes and requirements in terms of comfort, location and price. If what has been requested is not available, the Accel Travel Team pro-actively presents intelligent options that fit the company’s philosophy and ethos.
Gunther added: ‘We are almost part of Accel. We know how they tick and what they are looking for at any given time.’
To ensure best value, Eileen negotiates with airlines and suppliers, and the profile of preferred agreements reflects this. When new destinations emerge, it is Eileen’s role to proactively ensure these are included.
In 2015 Accel saved:
13.5 per cent on air fares through route deal fares and CWT Fares, a further 1.5 per cent saved by increasing discounts on existing routes to the USA.
12 per cent on hotel costs including CWT Value Rates
Eileen said: “Accel Partners is a very successful company and over the years of our relationship I have seen their UK traveller base expand significantly. It’s the understanding and expertise on both sides that ensures we maintain a great ongoing relationship. I am proud to be able to play a strategic part in this by acting to ensure that CWT service always meets Accel’s exacting needs.”
Jon added: "We benefit not only from CWT as a whole but from the personal relationship within CWT. Staff turnover has been very low, so all our bookers know the relevant people at CWT well. They know our needs and can pre-empt what we need. They know the likes and dislikes of our travellers because they have dealt with them for many years. There’s a shorthand that has been created between the people booking travel and the CWT team."
Jon also appreciates the cost savings CWT delivers. He said: "I’m aware that the relationship with CWT carries a lot of weight. CWT is very good at ensuring our costs are kept as low as possible."