08 July 2004 | Bob Papworth
The head of the Guild of Business Travel Agents (GBTA) has called for better relations between corporate travel managers and their outsourced travel management companies.
Philip Carlisle, chief executive of the GBTA, told the Corporate Travel and Expense Management Forum in London that constant retendering of outsourced contracts could destroy a good supplier relationship.
"It's a purchasing mentality to go out to re-tender every three or four years, almost regardless of whether corporate travel managers are getting the service they want," Carlisle said. "It costs a lot of money and a lot of trust. If you have a travel management company that meets or exceeds your requirements, why do it?"
Fellow panellist Mike Platt, managing director of BTI UK, part of Hogg Robinson, one of the UK's largest travel management companies, urged corporate travel managers not to feel threatened by outsourcing.
He said outsourcing to a travel management company saved money, but should not be seen as a replacement for the in-house corporate travel function.
Travel managers, Platt said, are best placed to communicate the policy and ensure compliance with a travel purchasing policy.
"Any company that lets go of that communication is misguided. Travel management is not all about getting deals. It's about communicating those deals internally," he said. "I would counsel corporate travel managers not to go out and try to get better deals, but to implement the deals they have better."
Louise Innes, supplier management consultant with Standard Life Insurance and a past chairman of the Institute of Travel Management, said travel managers have mixed feelings about outsourcing. "I am now responsible for permanent and temporary recruitment, and for waste management, as well as the strategic aspects of travel," she said. "The travel management companies have stolen my job.
"I'm not saying that's a bad thing, though. My company recognised I had certain skills, so outsourcing some of the day-to-day work was beneficial."