Travellers embrace online booking as Carlson Wagonlit Travel collaborates with SAI Global on worldwide consolidation
SAI Global, a leading provider of integrated risk management solutions, assurance and property services – which helps organisations proactively manage risk to create trust and achieve business confidence, growth, and sustainability – was looking to consolidate all its divisions around the world with one travel provider. The objective was to have one global platform providing visibility of all travel – particularly spend, destinations and hotel bookings. This clarity would improve SAI Global's leverage in negotiations with suppliers.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) was appointed as the business's global travel management company (TMC). Having implemented SAI Global's head office in Australia first, the next move was to go live in the UK before rolling out to other countries.
"A key factor in choosing CWT was that it provides better analytics and better reporting for us to look at that detail and drill down if we need to," said Chris Walker, SAI Global Accounts Payable and T&E Manager UK.
In the UK, Chris worked closely with Caroline Oxtoby, CWT programme manager UK&I, to ensure the transition from the incumbent TMC to CWT went smoothly.
The biggest challenge was around implementing an online booking tool for the first time and driving adoption of this among SAI Global's 370 UK-based travellers. The aim was to achieve 70 per cent online adoption within 12 months of going live in October 2017.
Throughout implementation, a dedicated CWT project manager liaised with Chris weekly. They set goals for SAI Global to provide data and preferences to CWT so that the bespoke online booking tool (OBT) could be built to exactly match the business's needs.
Chris said: "They were very attentive, with good communication and clear objectives of what they needed from us and how we could do it. It was smooth and clear, and quick and easy for us to give them what they needed."
Chris led a change management project to introduce the Concur online booking tool and drive adoption. This comprised communication and training.
"At SAI Global, having an open and transparent channel of communication with our employee community is paramount, so before we went live, we ensured that we clearly messaged to them that a new travel provider was on the horizon," said Chris. "Naturally, when there's any significant change within an organisation there can be some reluctance from employees, so to reassure and engage all of our employees we effectively communicated as far in advance as possible about what this meant for them, what was going to happen and when the initiative was going live.
"We also ensured we were on hand to answer any questions or queries they had and with the aid of CWT we offered training on the booking tool in the form of a WebEx session whereby we invited all our travellers to attend and learn more. Working with the CWT trainer was great, they were engaging and clearly and concisely ran through the ins and outs of the booking tool."
For those who missed the first training opportunity, a second session was offered and also recorded. Having seen the tool and been told the benefits, travellers agreed it was good and would save them time.
Employees were already using Concur's expense platform before the travel booking tool was added. The two integrate seamlessly as a one-stop shop. Having logged in, users click on one tab to complete their expenses and another to book travel.
"Driving adoption of the OBT was down to us as a business communicating that travellers should use the tool as it's the best and most convenient way to book," said Chris. "Most of our business is audit based so employees are often on the road, or out of the office. Having the functionality to log in when it suits them is so much easier and handier than making a call."
Further support is provided by a designated CWT team who service complex bookings that are currently ineligible for online booking.
Adoption of the OBT has been a great success, with 66 per cent of all eligible bookings made online after only three months – nearly reaching the longer-term goal of 70 per cent after 12 months.
"SAI Global has done well to achieve this so quickly. Its travellers have embraced the change," said Caroline. "The immediate benefits of this include traveller tracking, CWT Safety and Security, and an improvement in day-to-day processes as travellers make their own bookings rather than going through a booker."
The business also has access to advantageous CWT rates and fares.
A strong relationship between CWT and SAI Global has been cemented through the smooth implementation, and Caroline and Chris will continue working together to drive bigger gains in future.
Chris added: "The biggest benefit is having one global platform – having that clarity and visibility of all travel and spend globally will enable us to negotiate better rates with vendors. And to add high quality, timely reporting is extremely valuable to use as a global organisation."
He also praised the easy-to-use Concur booking tool: "It's 2018, everyone should be using some kind of online tool – that's the way forward of the travel industry."