17 February 2005 | Cara Whitehouse
BT has incorporated a train-booking programme to the online travel service that has already saved the company £7.5 million.
The new system, TheTrainLine, was added last week to BT's own tool that caters for air travel and hotel bookings.
Jan Tucker Jones, head of business travel in BT procurement and supply chain, said adding the rail system to BT's online travel-buying tool will cut down maverick spending.
She added that information produced will also help the procurement team to broker effective deals with individual train companies.
TheTrainLine's addition is the latest move in an 18-month process of transforming BT travel. It spends around £90 million a year on 30,000 regular travellers.
The company has moved away from a culture where departments had reasonable freedom to choose suppliers and booking methods.
The £7.5 million savings was £2.5 million above target, Tucker Jones said.
The telecoms giant now has a global travel policy run through two travel management companies that relies more heavily on mandated buying systems and suppliers.
Online booking for hotels, through Hotelscene, and Amex, which principally covers flights, has generated some of the most significant savings in the past year, according to Tucker Jones.
"As more people book their own travel, headcount can be reduced in call centres and extra costs can be stripped out."
Two-thirds of staff use Hotelscene's online tool, with 55 per cent using Amex to book their own flights.
Service costs have consequently been reduced by 52 per cent, with average ticket prices falling by 29 per cent.
Tucker Jones forecasts equally significant savings in the coming financial year as compliance to the company travel policy continues to increase.
"Since the mandate to book all business travel through the travel companies was approved by the board in October, compliance levels have more than doubled.
"It has generated hard savings and helped to drive volume to preferred carriers and suppliers, which in turn means we can deliver against negotiated volume targets."
Another benefit of managed booking is the ability to access data showing where any employee is in case of emergency.