Posted: 31 August 2020
West Park Management Services was reliant on booking travel by phone until going fully digital with Egencia
West Park Management Services (WPMS) supports European-headquartered investment company Triton and its portfolio companies. Triton provides operational, strategic and commercial due diligence consulting and more. Together, Triton and WPMS work to build stronger businesses, primarily across Northern Europe.
Rebuilding a business travel programme
Triton and WPMS collectively employ around 300 people who travel for business to some extent, with about 100 principal travellers who are frequently on the road.
‘Travel is core to our business – for building relationships and searching for new opportunities. Investing requires a lot of trust building on both sides, and travelling and meeting people in person is an essential element of that’, WPMS global travel manager Ieva Kisieliute said.
WPMS sought out Egencia to improve their business travel tools and support a smooth booking process with reliable technology. ‘Previously, booking was always done on the phone because updates couldn’t be made online’, she said. ‘If there was a last-minute change, which happens a lot, it was stressful to be waiting on hold for an agent to pick up.’
‘We did have an online booking system, but it couldn’t be trusted’, she explained. ‘Our team could find better deals shopping on their own. And information wasn’t always up to date, so travellers would need to double-check itinerary details multiple times on the road.’
Because of the company structure and high amount of travel, these issues were affecting the entire team. ‘Our business is extremely dynamic, and things move very fast – we needed someone who could match our speed’, she said.
‘We went with Egencia because they could meet our goals of speed, digitisation and flexibility.’
Putting the right corporate travel tools in place to increase online adoption
The team needed tools that worked across devices, whether they were at their desk, on the road or in different countries.
‘When we were adopting Egencia, “travel goes digital” was our slogan, and we put it on posters in all of our 14 offices, from Stockholm and London to Shanghai’, Kisieliute said. ‘Digital business travel tools were such a need from our side – we talked about it for so long but didn’t have the tools.’
Going from an online booking system that couldn’t be trusted and delivered a mere 11 per cent adoption rate, it was hard to predict how Egencia’s technology would be received by the team. But Kisieliute said,
“People were hungry for online booking,” and within the first month WPMS hit above their target of 80 percent for online adoption.
‘For the travellers, the tech just works the way you expect it to, and you can trust the information. Before, we were reliant on calling a travel agent, and now we can easily book and manage travel without picking up the phone.
One of the corporate travel solutions offered by Egencia that was the most helpful to the team is how the company could tailor its travel programme.
‘The options for customisation are making it even easier for everyone to save and stay in policy. We have contracts with certain hotels, and our search on Egencia is programmed to prioritise those hotels. Whenever I asked the implementation team if we could do something, the interaction from them was really positive’, Kisieliute said.
With Egencia travel technology, business travel managers can also control travel policy centrally and modify it at any time. ‘We have a blended approach to travel policy. Travellers can make decisions and changes any time they need to; when there are changes, whether that’s for safety or any other reason, I can make updates immediately’, she added.
Increasing visibility in unprecedented business travel times
One of the recent adjustments to the company’s travel policy is a result from a discussion with WPMS’s account manager, Natasha Ulrich, who is bringing much-needed insight on travel in the time of COVID-19.
‘We’ve already started some travel again because it is core to our business. Managers have total control over where they’re going and when, but for duty of care, we need visibility. Among others, Natasha suggested that we add a "reason for travel" field to the booking process, which has been really helpful’, Kisieliute explained.
With nearly the entire team booking travel online, it’s meant more insights into their corporate travel programme at a time when having a full view of company travel is essential for traveller well-being.
‘[When COVID-19 first broke] we were able to use Traveller Tracker to see who was in the countries that were considered more dangerous’, she said. ‘And the reporting capabilities have been extremely helpful, both for my role and for keeping various managers updated on where their travellers are.’
‘We now have corporate travel technology that fits our dynamic and fast-moving business. Any company that travels regularly needs speed, flexibility and the ability to customise – now we have it.
And the proof that it’s working for our team is both in the high adoption and in the feedback I hear from the team – the stress of last-minute travel changes is no longer a problem.’ And she’s confident it’s just going to keep getting better: ‘Natasha and I still work closely, and together we’re looking at how to evolve our travel programme as our company evolves.’
West Park Management Services (WPMS) provides specialised consulting services for Triton. WPMS has approximately 300 employees across the globe and one-third of its employees are frequently travelling for business.