Fujitsu said the pandemic heightened the relationship between travel managers and suppliers © Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Fujitsu said the pandemic heightened the relationship between travel managers and suppliers © Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

How Fujitsu discovered the 'true value' of suppliers

21 June 2022

The pandemic highlighted the “true value” of suppliers to Fujitsu while bringing sustainability to the forefront of business travel.

Nikki Rogan, global travel director at Fujitsu, told Supply Management the pandemic heightened the relationship between travel managers and suppliers, but warned firms were not out of the woods with regard to uncertainty. 

Rogan said: “Covid certainly showed the true value of our relationships with suppliers and partners. Some of the hotels rolled over our rates and some airlines kept deals in place. Covid really did bring the value of those partnership to the fore.”

But she added: “There's a lot of uncertainty into what the future holds due to the dependencies that we've got on external factors like a future wave of Covid and the current situation in Ukraine. Moving forward we shouldn't forget that.” 

Rogan said coronavirus raised the importance of sustainability considerations when planning business travel, but stressed: “I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do things at the moment.

“Throughout the pandemic I think it became very clear that we could still continue to function and thrive in a virtual environment and we’re still focused on reducing business travel where it is not required and asking employees to consider the return on investment and value for each trip from a sustainability perspective.” 

She said her priorities when considering business travel included using alternative modes of transport which are less carbon intensive and working with suppliers that align with the company’s sustainability objectives. 

She said the company was prioritising sustainability by incorporating it into KPIs. 

Rogan explained: “We need to educate and empower our travellers to make the best choices for the environment by giving them the right tools to minimise single-day trips, for example, and we're currently incorporating our sustainability goals and KPIs into our travel policy, just to make the traveller a bit more mindful of what our focus is and our goals are.” 

She said Fujitsu reported its emissions data as standard and ensures its travel management company provides carbon offsetting initiatives by partnering with environmentally-friendly hotels and using, where possible,  airlines with sustainable aviation fuels. 

The company also provides carbon footprint calculators to give travellers “their own piece of accountability when they're making the reservation”.

Rogan said not only has business travel itself changed, but the role of business travel managers. She said the scope of business travel managers has “definitely broadened” to include non travel-related responsibilities.

“There's a more enhanced focus on duty of care and traveller wellbeing initiatives,” she said. 

“We're working harder now to reinstall traveller confidence, which could be through duty of care and wellbeing initiatives, for example, but it’s also about remembering it’s never just a business trip, there is always a human involved and it’s critical to be mindful of that.”

She continued: “[Senior management are] seeing travel as an investment rather than a cost centre. And it is a business investment because true value comes out of it. So we should be assessing the return on investment for each business trip.”

While it is important for procurement teams to consider sustainability issues when organising business travel, Rogan said the aim should be to make “smarter” travel decisions rather than eliminating travel entirely. 

She concluded: “We should find a balance between face-to-face and virtual meetings. I personally believe human contact from face-to-face interaction must still continue but we should be encouraging employees to make smarter purposeful travel decisions. 

“I think it's our responsibility as travel managers to be writing and providing clear guidance to the employees and help define what ‘essential travel’ is, because how would they know otherwise?” 

Rogan is speaking at the Business Travel Show Europe, which runs 29-30 June 2022.

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