Our travel & construction heroes
Our travel & construction heroes
Meet Jen St. Clair, Assistant Head of Account Management for FCM. Jen started with FCM in 2014. From 1 March, Jen will take over the role of Head of Account Management for NSW as well as looking after her current portfolio of clients. Jen is an experienced account manager who specialises in working with FCM’s large construction and building clients. With her in-depth market knowledge, she understands the sector’s unique needs and priorities, along with the practical and strategic challenges of managing a complex travel program. We recently caught up with Jen to get her building industry travel insights.
How do your construction clients structure their travel programs?
As these clients are large organisations with big travel programs, they usually have a travel booker-led program to manage their traveller’s trips, rather than individuals making their own bookings. They often have many contractors that travel for them also so their travel bookers have an excellent understanding of the travel market as well as the online booking tool (OBT). Some clients will have a Procurement Manager to support the travel bookers and I’ll make sure I have a strong relationship with the Procurement Managers to help them with any of the strategic decisions or discussions around airline changes, fine-tuning hotel programs and industry developments.
How do construction travel programs differ?
These clients don’t have a ‘set and forget’ program. Their needs and travel programs are constantly changing, in line with with the big projects they’re working on. As project stages are completed and change, we’re updating client preferences, reassessing contracts and loading new product into their OBT to constantly deliver convenience and value.
How do you work with the travel bookers?
These bookers genuinely love the smooth FCM OBT functionality and we take the time to train them to get the most from any new features that are released. We’ll also conduct top-up training when we introduce new OBT changes, such as our recently launched multi-stop international booking capability, to ensure a streamlined user experience. We also engage with travel bookers and run training sessions when we set up a hotel program, so they understand how to access maximum value and flexibility.
How do you manage a client’s changing needs?
In my account management (AM) role I’m busy staying across the intricacies of each client’s construction travel, their changing requirements and key destinations. An essential part of this process is holding weekly meetings with procurement to get updates on the progress of current projects, to understand where we need to be looking for the often hard-to-get regional accommodation and to review airline deals, schedules and capacity changes. As an AM you need to always be on the front foot and across the latest travel news, to know which airlines are flying new routes for example.
What trends are you noticing now travel is picking up?
As soon as travel opened up again, construction clients were some of the first to return to travel as quickly as possible. Travel and face-to-face meetings are essential for this industry. Sustainable travel is certainly on their radar too, especially when new construction clients come on board. It might not be their number one priority, but we talk to them about carbon travel emissions and they’re generally keen when we show them easy ways to build sustainability into their program – while also aligning it with their organisation’s overall goals.
What are your priorities when new clients come on board?
- Reviewing their travel program policies
- Assessing their travel payment systems and processes
- Understanding their internal stakeholders and building strong relationships with their key travel groups and contacts
- Reviewing their preferred supplier arrangements to ensure they have the best deals in place.