Secrets of Business Travel

Tags: Transport Logistics

Posted by: Andrew Barr

GBTA Energy, Resources & Marine Symposium 2014 | Houston


The Travel Management Panel

Late last year I was lucky enough to participate on a panel at the Global Business Travel Association Houston Symposium (GBTA). The discussion, titled End-to-End Solutions and the Future of Travel Management, had a particular focus on the Energy, Resources & Marine sector.

The panel was expertly moderated by Monisa Cline (Senior Vice President, CWT Energy, Resources and Marine). The other representatives were Shelly Terry from Sabre, Adam Knights from ATP Corporate Travel and Michael Eberhard from Concur.

Each of the panellists was extremely knowledgeable which made for a lively and interesting discussion. The forum was nicely balanced with speakers from a major GDS, Corporate Travel, Expense Management and of course me focusing not only on the commercial travel but also on the charter transport and accommodation management.

Monisa skillfully guided the panel through a number of discussion points. Eventually landing on what I am sure most business people want to know. Why it is taking so long for service providers to deliver on the promise of a software solution for Door to Ore or Digs to Rigs for FIFO workforces around the world.

While we worked up to our individual views, in general, we all agreed on the underlying issues facing most vendors. While I am hesitant to speak on behalf of the other panellists as they are all more knowledgeable in their individual sectors, I have summarised the general themes covered in the following sections.


No Single Owner

It is rare for mobilisation, training, transport, accommodation, facilities management and the associated forecasting, costs, reporting and technology requirements to have a single enterprise owner. Usually, we deal with IT departments, transports teams, external contractors, finance departments, maintenance and procurement departments as well as HR and Production Teams.

Each Business Unit, Department and Team has different internal requirements and KPI's. The mismatch within the enterprise creates competition for solutions within a single organisation that at times will span a number of vendors.

A simple example of this is commercial flights, charter flights and ground logistics. A separate vendor, each reporting to a different internal department, will provide each piece. A team responsible for commercial travel may be measured on the cost while the team responsible for charter flights cares about utilisation based on roster patterns, and the ground logistics team is focussed on safety and on-time performance.

Each team is using the same profile, roster and manifest information. A tool, that works for each team but provides a standard view for management and financial reporting, is difficult to define.       


Stick to your Knitting

If we continue with the example above, it is also desirable for each of the vendors to do what it does best, efficiently and competitively. For a corporate travel company to start managing accommodation or a workforce logistics company to start selling commercial travel, there is a significant risk in building up a skill set in an entirely new industry. Taking a risk of that magnitude requires global clients willing to work as partners.


Scale or Bust

Just like our clients all of the panellists described the need to scale to remain successful. Without scaling, we are unable to reinvest in our technology and services. But as we scale our solutions become complex as we introduce time zone issues, currency issues, and data storage and security concerns.


The Way Forward

All of these issues brought into focus the unanimous view that integration was the short to medium term solution. While not new, it can be time consuming as the individual organisations negotiate the boundaries of responsibility, the support models, how we secure data and a common language to describe similar but different information.

For Osmotion and me personally it was a great experience to meet other vendors some potential customers and to discuss the common challenges we all face. It was especially pleasing that so many of the attendees knew of Osmotion and were genuinely interested in our technology and our philosophy of managing journey's by exception rather than managing every transaction.

I would also like to thank Carlson Wagonlit Travel for the invitation to participate on the panel and for Concur for introducing me to the organisers of the Canadian Symposium (Hopefully I will be able to participate again this year).

I hope that everyone is ready for another big year. This week the senior team has finalised the Roadmap for 2015 - Peter and I look forward to meeting with many of you to share our plans.


Kind Regards,

Andrew Barr
General Manager / Director

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