25 April 2002 | David Arminas
A solid local and regional travel programme must be in place before a travel manager can develop a truly global programme, delegates heard.
Celia Allbut, global commodity manager, travel Europe, at automation and controls company Invensys, said there was no such thing as a "big-bang" approach to putting a global travel programme in place.
"If you don't have the local programmes right, the global programme won't happen," she said. "Start at country level and collect essential data, especially travel patterns."
The missing link for many travel managers when they start planning a global programme is local data, added Allbut, who has just set up a single travel agency deal for Europe as part of a proposed larger global programme.
She told SM: "It is difficult getting the data from individual sites. A lot of our sites couldn't tell us how much they spent and saved. So we had to go to their suppliers. It is difficult to pull that information together if you are using hundreds of agencies across Europe."
Invensys has only two months of data on its annual $50 million European travel budget. "But in six or seven months, we and our travel agency will go to suppliers with our business," said Allbut.
However, Tom Stone, director of operations at Universal Music International, said the perceived benefits of proposed global travel programmes needed careful scrutiny, as going global did not automatically mean savings.
"There can be over-rationalisation where a perfectly good local travel agency is let go to make way for a global agency at no real price savings but at increased processing costs."