Navigating corporate travel confidently
Suzannah Randerson has clocked up an impressive 18 years with the Flight Centre Travel Group, with 11 of those years being with FCM. As a highly respected Account Manager, Suzannah is currently looking after one of FCM’s – and Australia’s – largest construction companies. In fact, she has a history with the client, having worked in the role of Operations Team Leader when FCM onboarded this high-profile client in 2012.
What’s the focus for this building and construction client?
Like many clients in the current high inflation environment, the biggest pressure is managing travel budgets and expenses. A current focus for FCM with this customer is to ensure they’re utilising their extensive bank of air credits on hold. To assist we’ve been advising them on potential changes for their internal travel policy, to allow different cost centres within their business to use the credits. This will help to better utilise the cost savings available from air credits and ensure all tickets are being used.
For many construction clients the inflationary pressures that started in 2022, are really starting to bite. Especially the increase in airfares, and we’re still seeing significant supply issues with both hotels and car hire. Our large construction clients use a lot of hire vehicles for different regional projects across the country, including SUVs for remote travel and specialised vehicles that are mine equipped. Often up to 40% of their business is regionally based. So, hire cars are important and the other challenge has been regional airline availability. Since the pandemic we’ve seen a lot of change in the regional offering, with airlines pulling out of some routes. This is something we’ve had to work around, by thinking creatively to find solutions such as sourcing private charter flights.
What additional specialist services does FCM provide to construction firms?
With a large accommodation spend, this client uses FCM Consulting to manage their hotel program. FCM Consulting takes a big picture view of the company’s needs, negotiates rates and benchmarks their offering to ensure the client is getting the best possible deal in the market. They also take a proactive approach before a new client project comes online, researching accommodation in the relevant region to put hotel deals in place, so the client is ready to roll when the project work starts. With FCM Consulting taking on this role for the client, it meant they didn’t have to employ extra personnel inhouse and it relieves the workload of their already busy procurement team.
How do you help this client manage such a large number of travellers?
For this client alone, we have some 9000 traveller profiles on our books. That’s a lot of people to keep track of and they include executives, project managers, contractors, engineers and architects. To stay on top of it all, we work very closely with the client, including receiving a direct data feed from their Human Resources department. This allows us to identify new employees and to automatically create a travel profile for them for future use. While the client has 350 of their own internal travel bookers, this helps to save time and streamline the process for them, as FCM has the profiles ready and uploaded into their online booking tool.
The OBT is also configured for the client to support all of their preferred supplier agreements for airline, hotels and vehicles – so it minimises the chance of out-of-policy bookings. We also updated the capability of the OBT at the end of 2022, to allow the client to book complex international itineraries with up to five different air sectors.
Does this client have any special travel considerations?
Naturally when you’re running such a large company the stakes are high and the client has an internal policy to ensure the CEO and Chairman never travel on the same flight. We have two travel bookers dedicated to the executive team, and VIPs, plus FCM receives daily reports and alerts to ensure this scenario doesn’t happen. This means that any breach of policy, which is potentially missed by the client’s internal booking team, is picked up by FCM.
All our clients have access to two levels of VIP service, including VIP Premium or FCM Concierge, which is a very personal offering providing an end-to-end service, across travel and other related requests including making dinner reservations.