Case Study: Consolidating travel for Airwave



About Airwave

Airwave designs, builds and operates the largest public safety radio communications network in the world,  delivering critical voice and data communications to organisations which provide vital public services. This includes the police, fire and ambulance services as well as local authorities, utilities and transport providers.

In 2010 Airwave tendered their travel programme for the first time, seeking a more efficient method of managing travel.

FCM’s Account Management solutions have assisted Airwave to achieve significant cost savings through introducing travel management initiatives where previously Airwave had operated their travel programme in a non-TMC environment.


From the data which could be provided during the tender process, Airwave knew they booked a high number of hotels and rail tickets, and wanted to consolidate this into an online booking  platform. Following FCM’s provision of a complete online solution, including a full billback facility, it became apparent that this amounted to a significant 20,000 transactions annually.

Whilst we could have focused purely on the implementation of online solutions and the consolidation of the travel spend, we began to work with Airwave in a strategic partnership to adopt the approach of a long-term relationship and offered informed recommendations for the travel programme.

Airwave appointed a strategic supplier manager and designed a clear set of KPIs to tangibly measure FCM’s contribution. FCM developed a working business plan to target areas where spend could be reduced and crucially, where proactive and personal account management could quickly add financial benefits to this programme.

Working through it together

FCM formed a consultative partnership led by our account manager and created a steering group of experts. Savings opportunities were identified and resulted in enhancements in a number of areas.

Airwave’s dedicated FCM travel team, who had met with key travel arrangers during online tool training, were on hand to help bookers transition from offline booking to online tool use.  Airwave’s online adoption in the first month was 85%, increasing to 90% when booking through FCM was mandated across the business. This included near full online fulfillment for hotel and  rail bookings. Online adoption was reported monthly with exception reports being developed to aid the supplier manager identify opportunities for improvement.

The account manager worked closely with FCM’s hotel contracting team to negotiate preferential rates at key properties nationwide. As no room production data existed it was necessary for FCM to collect this data and recommend a range of properties based on analysed management information. Hotel visits were conducted to ensure these properties met the needs of employees - a mix of engineers, support staff and VIPs - with a range of soft benefits such as breakfast, WI-FI, car parking, late cancellation and last room availability being included. This programme reduced hotel spend year on year.

Third party supplier negotiations were conducted on Airwave’s behalf, including airline and car hire agreements.

Our technology team installed two rail ticket printers in Airwave’s regional offices, reducing the use of ticket on departure, the most expensive way to purchase a rail ticket, by 70%.

Data capture allowed our account manager to work with Airwave’s supplier manager to analyse out of policy hotel bookings and reasons for booking offline. This data combined with a  proactive offline team meant that bookers were personally contacted to assist them with policy, rather than reducing availability through blocking properties; important to a business which  as many last minute accommodation requirements. FCM’s experience has been that driving compliance through understanding and engagement creates a greater foundation for lasting  success.

Our finance team developed a summary invoice file for Airwave. This combined with the billback facility for hotels, including incidental expenses, significantly reduced the time and cost of reconciliation.

Detailed quarterly travel reviews were held to allow FCM’s account manager to review the business plan, present an analysis of management information with recommendations and for Airwave to report on FCM’s performance against strategic KPIs. This regular review, recommendation and measurement process sustained the programme and maintained momentum.

Taking a proactive approach to analysing, implementing and managing Airwave’s travel programme has resulted in several key benefits for the company. Airwave now has full visibility of  their travel spend which is a crucial initial step in being able to identify opportunities to improve performance. The process has also instilled confidence within Airwave that their online suite, preferred hotel programme and third party supplier agreements are being actively managed in their best interests to drive both savings and efficiencies. Ultimately, by developing their own KPI measurement, Airwave has been able to set a clear benchmark validated against FCM’s contribution.


Based on the MI Data gathered over a two-year period, Airwave utilised the data to review their expense/travel policy and made changes to support a cost saving initiative. With the FCM account managers and supplier managers’ support, Airwave presented a communication project to the Airwave employees to support the ‘when to travel’ strategy, this has resulted in a decrease on spend of 30% within the first 3 months.

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