FCM Travel Solutions has been managing the travel programme of The Church since January 2017, providing a global network that consolidates the organisation’s entire network of officers under one travel solution.
The missionaries of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been travelling to far-flung, remote destinations for decades to preach their doctrine. While times have changed and travel has largely evolved, the challenges associated with such remote travel remain, especially in Africa where some 1,400 missionaries – many of whom have never travelled internationally before – are posted across 26 countries.
Unlike most corporates, the travel requirements of The Church are unusual in that large volumes of travel are conducted to areas business travellers rarely visit – remote villages that are largely inaccessible, with rudimentary travel facilities, including alternative accommodation, that are not bookable on a GDS or Online Booking Tool (OBT). The remote nature of the travel destination makes communication difficult and, as a result, the organisation’s duty of care obligations often take prominence.
With branches worldwide and over 72,000 missionaries posted globally, it was clear that The Church required a global solution – one that featured a combination of quick and efficient personalised travel assistance through dedicated travel consultants and a global Online Booking Tool (OBT) that, unlike its existing OBT, had minimal downtime and the support of a personalised and professional team when offline support was required.
The immediate goal for FCM Travel Solutions was to provide the seamless integration of cutting-edge OBT technology and personalised attention. A dedicated travel team of Senior Consultants, as well as an accounts resource, were appointed, led by an Account Manager whose role it was to direct strategic planning, customer relations and supplier negotiations on behalf of The Church.
FCM Travel Solution’s first steps were to consolidate travel under one umbrella, increase user adoption and to improve the reporting and tracking of their volumes and travel spend. Consolidation efforts required a great deal of change management within the organisation, not just in terms of the resources on the ground who were booking travel, but also the inexperienced travellers being posted to remote areas within Africa, who rely on the TMC to advise proactively on any health threats or travel risks and potential challenges.
The introduction of an OBT resolved the decentralised nature of travel booking, empowering the network on the ground to book travel seamlessly. Meanwhile, the strategic input of an experienced Account Manager assisted in more favourable supplier deals and the creation of a consolidated travel policy.
With hundreds of credit card transactions that needed to be reconciled, The Church was also given the support of a personalised finance team for all statements and invoices.
“The service we are receiving from FCM is very professional. Their solution helps us serve people in many different countries.” Sandile Makasi, Project Manager The Church Makasi describes FCM as not just a TMC, but a partner, which provides travel industry insights and helps formulate and implement strategies that help The Church achieve value for money.
The strategic approach to travel management introduced by FCM Travel Solutions has not only resulted in travel planning and booking efforts being consolidated under one umbrella, it has ensured that The Church benefits from better supplier rates and the supplier relationships FCM Travel Solution enjoys globally.
“For customers like The Church that require an end-to-end travel management approach, integrating cutting-edge technology with the personalised, dedicated attention of a professional team is critical in creating and implementing a travel programme that delivers on the organisation’s specific travel requirements, while ensuring value and peace of mind.” Nicole Adonis General Manager, FCM Travel Solutions South Africa