Our travel & construction heroes
After 20 years in corporate travel with FCM’s parent company Flight Centre Travel Group, it’s fair to say that Joanne Sammut understands the unique needs of construction clients. She has a wealth of hands-on leadership experience, which today sees her in charge of a team of 11 travel managers looking after one of Australia’s largest construction firms.
As Team Leader of Operations what does a typical day involve?
My day is busy responding to both client and team emails, meetings with other areas within FCM, weekly team catch-ups and client problem solving and troubleshooting. Throughout the week, I’ll also be overseeing high-level accounts matters and having one-on-one meetings with travel managers.
What are the important issues for construction industry clients?
These are big clients working on billion dollar projects in Australia and overseas, so they want smooth, streamlined and reliable travel. They are highly sophisticated and professional companies. They expect the same attributes in their travel partner. With high travel volumes and, at times, last minute requests they require FCM to deliver fast response times and a quick turnaround. In the construction sector time is money, and any delay in personnel arriving at a project site can affect demanding timelines – and ultimately, the delivery of crucial project stages. So, as you can imagine, they also need a reliable, 24/7 after hours service. They may have shift workers checking into hotels very late at night, or a team of engineers needing to get to a site fast.
Are there any current challenges shaping the construction sector?
Like all sectors across the board, post-COVID budgets are tight and many businesses are compensating for rising costs by reining in some of their travel budget. It’s important to get the most from every travel dollar and so preferred hotel programs are important, along with arranging for new hotel programs to come online to cater to site specific projects. Fortunately, these large companies have embedded strict and robust travel policies and it’s rare that we need to raise the issue of out of policy bookings.
What specialist services do you provide?
Talking about our largest client, FCM’s technology suite is essential as it enables clients to efficiently book travel using time saving and streamlined processes. With a large group of internal travel bookers, Jo’s client is probably the biggest user of FCM’s online booking tool (OBT).
FCM’s OBT allows our travel managers to report on the use of their credits on hold – ensuring they are used as a first option.
With a global reputation and reach, this client also undertakes regular executive team and VIP travel. To manage the exacting travel requirements of the Global Leadership Team and Executive Team, FCM has two travel managers dedicated to this group. This can involve complex travel itineraries and preferences, with up to 16 executives travelling at the same time. The secret to a successful trip is meeting their high expectations and double-checking, and triple-checking, all bookings.
What does FCM offer that’s unique?
I have personally been working on this client’s travel program since 2018, and the entire team consists of long time travel managers who genuinely understand the demands of their business. We work together with the client in a partnership, and we’re always open to fine tuning our services in response to their feedback.