Don't pay for uneaten breakfasts, travel buyers told

8 February 2012

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8 February 2012 | Angeline Albert

Sarah Makings, KPMG’s European category manager, believes procurement professionals who understand what the business requires can better manage travel cost pressures.

Tasked with meeting the needs of 5,000 business travellers in Europe and an annual business travel spend of €150 million (£125 million), Makings recommends managers find unnecessary cost, wherever it may be. “Assess what the corporate need is and make sure you are not paying for limo transfers that aren’t needed and breakfasts that aren’t eaten,” she said. 

Speaking to SM at the Business Travel Show at London’s Earl Court yesterday, Makings acknowledged that increasing cost pressures exist including unbundling of flight charges but said purchasers must be able to mitigate cost increases with better traveller and supplier engagement.

She says buyers should think about what more they can give to preferred suppliers.  She only gives preferred vendors access to the company’s bookers and travel managers, travel market data and travellers.

Traveller engagement is also a focus at KPMG and involves feedback sessions with travel managers and buyers to unearth any problems with suppliers. “Travel is a very emotive category to manage,” said Makings. “Business travel is not fun if you travel a lot and are away from your family. All travellers have preferences and opinions and that can make the job of travel buying tricky.”

Makings said the most important method of managing costs is ensuring everyone adheres to a company travel policy. “Give people reasons why they should follow it,” she said.

Management information also helps procurement with maverick spend. Two years ago, Makings implemented an online booking tool, which has since been adopted in KPMG’s UK and Germany offices and has increased travel-policy compliance in the business. Makings said the company is now in a good position with only 10 per cent maverick spend leakage, at 50 KPMG sites in the 18 European countries she manages.

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