Travel buyers celebrate successes at awards show

7 February 2012

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7 February 2012 | Adam Leach

Travel buyers flew in from across Europe, overcoming the disruptions resulting from snow, to convene in Chelsea Harbour for the European Travel Buyer Awards last night.

Practitioners were recognised for excelling in areas such as corporate social responsibility, use of technology, innovation and a number of individual categories.

Vanessa Amisah, procurement manager, marketing communications, events and travel at Royal Mail Group won the award for ‘best use of technology in a travel programme’ and was also commended in the ‘national travel buyer of the year’ category. In just three months, she moved the group’s travel system online and implemented a new approvals process that has already generated savings of around £1.5 million.

Asked what the key to being a good travel buyer is, she told SM: “You need to be very strong willed because when you’re mandating an online booking system within three months you’re going to get a lot of backlash from the business so you need to be strong willed and driven.”

Nicola Spence, travel services manager at Balfour Beatty, who triumphed in the ‘national travel buyer of the year’ award, highlighted the importance of collaboration. She told SM: “I think it’s understanding that you don’t know everything and being prepared to listen to the advice around you from suppliers. There’s a lot of opinions out there and it’s about taking that all into consideration and moulding that with the culture of your organisation.”

Speaking to SM, Paul Tilstone also expressed the importance for travel management programmes to mirror their business’s overall strategy: “I’ve known travel programmes in the past that operate in isolation from the business and actually they should be completely aligned with what the overall objectives of the business are.”

The Business Travel Show is being held today and tomorrow at Earl’s Court.

Full list of winners:

Best travel policy compliance programme: Petra Metsola and Christine Blomqvist, category manager travel - travel contact team and Wärtsilä shared service centre and travel accountant team manager,Wärtsilä in Finland

Best CSR initiative in a travel programme: Paul Hinds, head of sustainability, Natural England

Best use of technology in a travel programme: Vanessa Amissah, procurement manager - marketing communications, events and travel, Royal Mail Group

Best innovation in a travel programme: Julia Heesterman, head of travel services, MSTravel EMEA, Microsoft Corporation

Outstanding national travel coordinator/Booker of the year: Katrina Murray, executive assistant, PwC

National travel buyer of the year: Nicola Spence, travel services manager, Balfour Beatty Worksmart

European travel team/department of the year: Agrega Travel Team (JV between ABI and BAT)

European travel buyer of the year: Kathleen Paszik, European travel coordinator, Parker Hannifin

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