Simplifying travel post-merger for education provider
This global education provider is at the heart of education research and resources. Its expertise range from qualifications and academic publications to shaping curricula and education systems around the world.
Approximately 35% of its 6,700 internal staff travel for work, alongside thousands of external contractors. With operations in 170 countries, no trip is ever the same. Travel choices are often varied too, sometimes including accommodation such as farm stays in rural areas.
Michael Strange, Global Corporate Travel and Risk Manager, joined in January 2021. The education provider had just merged with another, and naturally that meant the merger of culture and processes, including the travel programme.
#1 goal? Capturing data
Staff essentially doubled in the merger, with different travel programmes. As staff in countries such as India, Philippines, Spain, France and South Africa saw teams join each other in the same building, it meant travellers could be sat side by side, but were booking with different TMCs. Some were even booking with our sister brand Corporate Traveller. Michael estimates that there are more than 300 different ways to book travel within the organisation, considering all the online and offline options.
And with all those options, comes data challenges. “It’s hard to actively track who has or hasn’t travelled because the history of our travel programme has been a little bit convoluted. Some countries may be working with a high street shop or a little back street travel organiser, so it hasn’t always been possible to get travel data. Trying to capture that data historically has been my number one goal when coming into this programme,” said Michael.
With some countries booking through a sister brand to FCM, Account Manager Laura Saville keeps it in the family by working closely with her counterpart at Corporate Traveller to present the big picture.
Ripping up the travel policy
Another priority was the travel policy; Michael “pretty much erased the policy and started again”.
There weren’t just different booking channels, but different policies too. Company variations. Regional variations. Even department variations. Michael took the reins; asking regional directors and global stakeholders what worked, what didn’t and what needed to change.
Then with a blank piece of paper, he rewrote an overarching policy asking travellers to adhere to:
- Risk assessments.
- Environmental considerations.
- Certain booking practices, such as using a TMC where available.
There is still autonomy for each region, which has received good feedback.
…with a stellar team by his side
“The FCM team have been legendary. We’ve had our own shortfalls and problems internally which have restricted us being able to progress through certain areas. The team have been massively patient and understanding with that. I couldn’t not do any part of what I do without them,” said Michael.
He called out Account Manager Laura Saville and Paul Jarvie, and Programme Optimisation Director Graham Ross for helping Michael understand the possibilities. Whether it’s a domestic issue in the UK or a problem in India or then to South Africa in the next email; they’re always there with solutions, work arounds or honest truths. While travel volumes may have been lower recently, Laura said the long-term partnership has developed over the bigger picture projects.
A fresh mindset
When you need to reinvent your travel programme, you need a strong travel partner by your side. Discover more detail about FCM’s partnership with Michael on what it meant to have the team for support, and what the future holds.
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