Food and drink processing and packaging
Operating a travel program recently has come with a unique set of challenges – from figuring out which destinations employees could visit to implementing new guidelines to keep traveling employees safe.
Ulrika’s exceptional work transforming the travel program to address the unique challenges of COVID-19, with the backing of GBT, has not gone unnoticed. In March 2021, she was named the Nordic Travel Manager of the Year at the Nordic Business Travel Summit for “being a trusted advisor who navigated difficult circumstances while supporting the company’s travelers.”
COVID-19 didn’t stop one multinational food company from sending its travelers on the road. The organization, a client of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) for 16 years, was not in a position to enforce a corporate-wide travel ban and has still been enabling employees to take business trips throughout the pandemic, albeit on a more limited basis.
The company’s travel and meetings manager Ulrika Rosén found that operating a travel program during this time came with a unique set of challenges – from figuring out which destinations employees could visit to implementing new guidelines to keep traveling employees safe. Navigating and managing these changes required extraordinary teamwork, communication, and support for Ulrika – both internally and externally with the organization’s travel suppliers, especially its travel management company, GBT.
Ulrika from travel and stakeholders from occupational health and safety, HR, and communications formed a COVID support workforce to build a process for employees to travel safely in this environment. They created a risk-mapped matrix outlining where employees could travel to and under which circumstances. As part of a new Travel Smart campaign, they also produced a video called “New Ways of Travel” (starring Ulrika) to promote policy changes and help employees develop a business-critical mindset when determining the necessity of a work trip.
Ulrika also worked closely with Sanna Huttunen, a global client manager at GBT. Together, they organized quarterly calls involving a wide range of GBT representatives supporting the company’s global program for both sides to share relevant updates, industry trends, and observations as well as best practices for managing a travel program during COVID. Sanna would then disseminate key company updates from Ulrika with GBT’s global teams so they could better support Ulrika’s travelers.
Through these regular communications, GBT also demonstrated to Ulrika and her team the ways we’re supporting clients through the pandemic. This included training and technology enrichments made to our service delivery solutions, industry insights from our in-house consulting experts, and transformative developments we’ve made to support travelers, such as our multichannel briefing platform, Travel Vitals, which provides the health and safety information necessary to plan a journey.
Traveling right now is a more complicated process, and round-the-clock support is even more critical as demand for travel picks up.
“Even if the world is slowly opening up, it’s not going to be as easy as it was in the past. There are fewer flights to choose from,” Ulrika explained.
Travelers also need to be aware of new travel requirements, such as what type of vaccination or negative COVID test documentation needs to be presented when entering/exiting a country.
Such booking complexities are a primary reason the food company paused its online booking tool (OBT) in 2020 – it wanted employees to have live GBT travel counselors providing extra booking support. Although the OBT has now been turned back on, Ulrika still encourages travelers to use Travel Vitals for trip research, and still have the reassurance of booking their trips with a GBT travel counselor if it makes them feel more comfortable or if they’re struggling to find transportation options.
GBT also was honored to receive The Extra Mile Supplier award at the Nordic Business Travel Summit for our “innovation, creativity, and willingness to do everything [we] can do to support [our clients] during the pandemic.”
Since client satisfaction is a top priority at GBT, we are also delighted that Ulrika’s travelers scored GBT highly – 91.5% gave us high marks for our customer service based on surveys we conducted in 2021.
Ulrika noted that the value of GBT has increased in the eyes of her travelers and leaders over the past year. “The whole situation has made people at our company realize what we are paying a TMC for. It’s for the support that is there.”
As we continue making enhancements to the way we support the company, we are excited to be strengthening ties with the company. Recently, it awarded its North America, Central and South America contract to GBT, enabling us to extend our support beyond the contracts we already have in place for Europe, Asia Pacific, and Greater Middle East and Africa.
“I am thrilled to expand this partnership with the company and continue supporting its ‘New Ways of Travel’ campaign,” said Sanna. “No matter how things evolve in the ever-changing travel landscape, GBT is here to support its travelers any way we can. We are on this journey together.”