A Fortune 200 company that provides a full suite of technology and consulting services to oil and gas operators, was big and getting bigger, following a series of acquisitions to expand its portfolio. With annual combined air and land travel spend of $200 million, the Houston, Texas–based company knew it needed to consolidate its travel program, and signed a global contract with American Express Global Business Travel in 2008.
But when you operate in more than 80 countries, consolidating can feel like trying to drill for oil with a plastic fork. A couple of years into the contract, the client faced considerable local resistance within its ranks: more than 50 of its markets were using a combined total of more than 40 local agencies to book trips and service travelers. “Our organization was made up of many individual operating companies that had come together,” said the client’s Director of Global Strategic Sourcing. “We had a whole lot of people trying to drive their own results without leveraging global spend or the value that a global program brings to the table. In addition, these local country leaders were responsible for much more than just travel, and it was time to let them focus on their core business.” Taking full advantage of partnering with a global travel management company was long overdue.
With clear challenges ahead, the client started fresh in 2011 by creating a close-knit committee, made up of members from the client and American Express Global Business Travel, to identify and capitalize on opportunities.
First, the committee had to build trust with the local travel managers, and they had to do it fast. “We had to show them that relinquishing control and letting us help them was the best thing to do,” said the American Express Global Business travel Client Manager. “Through consolidation, they could reach goals they’d never reached in the past.”
Logistics were tricky, too, because the client operates in so many markets, including developing countries with limited travel service infrastructures. American Express Global Business Travel put its comprehensive network and powerful global partnerships to work. Where we didn’t have a wholly-owned operation, we called upon the leading local agencies in our fully integrated Travel Partner Network (TPN) to make sure the client’s globetrotters were supported, around the world. “American Express really stepped up to the plate,” said the client’s Director of Global Strategic Sourcing. “Where we didn’t have coverage, they connected us with partners to provide the coverage we needed.”
Within a year, American Express Global Business Travel managed the client’s travel in 58 markets, delivering hefty savings – a projected $11 million per year – through improved compliance with corporate travel policies, more consistent reporting, better supplier discounts and more efficient operations. “American Express added value to our organization and enabled a successful cost reduction approach,” said the client’s travel manager in Sub Sahara Africa. “We have been thoroughly impressed with the account management.” Another advantage of the global program? Better urgent travel support, because travelers are now tracked globally through consistent tools, which means we can help to locate them more quickly if and when an unexpected disaster strikes.
Successful global consolidation, although monumental, was just the first step. “We became a student of the client’s business,” said the American Express Global Business Travel Global General Manager. “We had to understand their needs, objectives and challenges, in order to provide the right customized plan and solutions to get where they wanted to be.” Confident in the unprecedented value that American Express’ deep insight could provide, the client invested in a customized suite of solutions from our Global Business Consulting team, and the team went drilling for ways to save through technology, sourcing, reporting, compliance and online adoption. Traveler compliance with a company’s corporate travel policy makes or breaks a program, so American Express Global Business Travel tailored each initiative to align with the client’s culture and goals, helping to make the smart choice an easy choice for travelers.
And the committee is still going. What’s next? Consolidating the remaining markets, and exploring how new technologies, including mobility and social media, can further optimize the client’s program by enhancing the traveler experience.
With operations all over the world, the client and American Express Global Business Travel both think big. The client invests heavily in research and development, enabling them to provide the only end-to-end portfolio of solutions to service the oil and gas industry. And at American Express Global Business Travel, we anticipate our customers’ needs by constantly asking, “What’s next?” We used that insight to customize an end-to-end, global program that better supports the client’s international operations, delivers world-class care to their travelers and maximizes the return on their travel investment. The client now has more time and resources to do what’s most important: help its customers get fuel out of the ground and into the hands – and tanks – of their own customers
A successful global program demands a global network and expertise. That’s why the client signed a contract extension with American Express Global Business Travel through 2018. “I’ve done business with the small mom and pops,” said the client’s Director of Global Strategic Sourcing, “but they’re not equipped to handle an organization the size of ours. You really have to have a global partner. There aren’t a lot of players in the world who can do what American Express does, and there’s always someone out there who will sell for a cheaper price. But I’m looking for the top-notch solution. And that’s what I’m getting with American Express.”