How to...

find further savings in a mature travel programme

Energy supplier npower fundamentally changed its business travel programme as it sought savings and efficiencies. Read on to find out how it went about it

knowledge-February 2018

STEP 1: THE BACKGROUND. Swindon-based npower had a mature travel programme but Group Travel Manager, Jo McQuade, was tasked with finding further savings as part of a company-wide initiative. It has worked with Carlson Wagonlit Travel for over 20 years and had an implant from the TMC within its headquarters. “As well as cost savings on actual travel, we knew we could reduce operational costs too,” says McQuade.

STEP 2: THE PLAN. npower went out to tender and ultimately reappointed CWT. The company’s plan was multifaceted and would fundamentally change its travel operation.

“One of the key pillars of the tender was to remove the implant,” says McQuade. “As a company we were becoming much more agile in terms of working practices so having an implant wasn’t necessary anymore.”

The second key component of the plan was to increase adoption of its cytric selfbooking tool through a new mandate, and the third was to switch GDS from Galileo to Amadeus in order to align with the Amadeus-owned cytric tool. npower also looked at reducing internal travel and promoting the use of videoconferencing.

STEP 3: THE PROCESS. Although CWT had been reappointed, it was treated as a new implementation and a dedicated team was appointed. “The implant was closed down and we pushed the button on the booking tool mandate in March last year,” says McQuade. “Buy-in from senior management was crucial for all these aspects to succeed.”

Equally important was her experience in stakeholder engagement. “We were nervous about mandating use of the booking tool but decided a soft approach wouldn’t work,” she says. “We made it very clear to travellers why we were making the changes and what they should book through cytric and what could go through CWT – namely long-haul and complex travel. CWT were able to redirect our staff to cytric if they were only making straightforward bookings.”

McQuade was nervous about the GDS switch, which went smoothly. The only stumbling block was the way in which cytric support was delivered. “Previously this was offered by the implant and under the new contract would be delivered off site by a technical team only. We soon realised that when travellers were faced with a challenge in cytric, they needed travel advice, not necessarily ‘technical support’. We therefore moved the support back into the dedicated team where service has returned to its previous high level.”

STEP 4: THE OUTCOME. npower achieved its targets by both cutting travel spend and operational costs. “Before the changes were implemented we were at 75% adoption of cytric for eligible bookings through natural progression,” says McQuade. “This is now up at 90% and in November was 98%. We were so excited by that – I was bouncing around the room!”

The increase has translated to cost savings in the region of 32% reduction against operational costs. Average room rates and fares also saw a reduction.

“To support these changes, we continued to educate our travellers and bookers to ‘meet’ in alternative ways – Lync and VC, for example – but also about the importance of booking in advance,” says McQuade.

“Overall, it’s been hugely successful and that’s in no small part down to the amount we communicated with travellers ahead of the changes.”