Strategic and flexible approach achieves savings


Defence, Security, Energy and Transport

James Draper

Head of Sales, UK


The Background

This client is an international group of companies focusing on defence, security, energy and transport. With a head office in the US, it has operations on every continent. The group in the UK is made up of a number of separate businesses. They operate as independent financial entities but have broadly similar travel needs.

The group’s expansion strategy of buying new companies meant it made sense to consolidate travel policy to achieve better buying power and reduce overall costs.

Gradually over a period of months starting in 2005, the client appointed ATPI Corporate Travel to work with 10 different businesses spread across the UK – the main client contact was to be the group company secretary, also based in the UK.

Travel needs include air fares between the UK and the US, Canada, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, and around Europe. The nature of the business requires frequent alterations to plans and complex itineraries. ATPI Corporate Travel also deals with hotel accommodation, mostly in the UK, US and Oman, and rail bookings for the UK or Eurostar.

The Challenge

The client had no history of outsourcing services at group level. In spite of its global coverage, it lacked a formal, centralised travel policy – even at country level. This meant the group’s buying power wasn’t what it could be and suppliers weren’t offering the best deals.

Management information (MI) was only collected region by region, so data was disjointed and there wasn’t the global knowledge to make improvements. Neither was there a group travel team to manage the various businesses’ requirements, communicate between them and ultimately improve their travel programmes.

The challenge for ATPI Corporate Travel was not only to win the trust and support from the separate businesses and pull them together, but also to be sensitive to differing cultures and travel preferences.

The Solution

Although many of their routes are different, ATPI Corporate Travel has identified specific collective buying power opportunities across the various businesses. Many of the UK group companies are involved in a long-term project in Oman. So there is a high demand for air tickets between London or Manchester and Muscat.

Since low fares are priority, corporate fare deals have proved too expensive. Instead, ATPI Corporate Travel has negotiated a loyalty scheme with Etihad – the UAE’s national airline – with their SME programme.

Although travellers sit in economy seats, they qualify (because of volume) for a Gold Card. This gives them reward points so they can receive upgrades, use the lounge, and be immediately recognised as valued travellers when they check in.

The ATPI Corporate Travel account manager has developed relations at a local level with each business. This includes personal visits
to each, bimonthly emailed updates, and regular phone calls. There has also been joint WebEx training and advice sessions for travel bookers from all the businesses.

The Result

The group now receives detailed MI to demonstrate travel savings at both group and business level, together with analysis of how these can be maximised. This MI has demonstrated that although individual businesses do not amount to large volumes of fares, together they are sufficient to agree valuable supplier deals, achieving savings.

Where the group can use its buying power, benefits follow; for example the Etihad loyalty programme means travellers are much more comfortable with their Gold Card, giving them discretionary status for added value perks and achieving savings.

The client has benefited from the expertise of the dedicated ATPI Corporate Travel manager, who is now the point of contact for the various businesses. The group has someone who can advise strategically on how to benefit from a consolidated travel programme and, where possible, bring the businesses together, achieving savings.

Learn more about ATPI’s sector-specific travel management solution