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Tips on Merging Travel Management With Global Mobility

A leading travel manager shared his approach to combining travel management with global mobility at the AltoVita Smart, Safe, Sustainable Summit.

Ryan Taylor, Category Manager for Travel at SMBC, identified shared features between the two sides. 

They include wellbeing and safety, he told delegates during a fireside chat at the event, which you can watch in its entirety at the end of this article.

Find Common Aspects

Taylor explained to moderator Jess Dunderdale, head of client partnerships at AltoVita, that he established a new programme called Safety First.

“We are going through a consolidation of our travel, and it's not just about business travel, it's about the whole piece,” Taylor said during the event at London's Sky Garden on June 8, 2023. “So it's to do with our expats that are transferring into countries. It's for people that are being temporarily assigned,” he said. 

And the Safety First initiative incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as traveller wellbeing.

“Rather than have them as two separate projects, we wanted to combine them all together and we wanted to brand it because we want our employees to know that their safety is always our priority,” he added.

The travel manager also shared how he needed to combat perceptions that safety was simply about “traveller tracking” and highlighted how it could include whether travellers needed a visa before they departed for a country. It can also include how they are met when they arrive in the country, he pointed out.

"We are going through a consolidation of our travel, and it's not just about business travel."

A new committee was also formed due to the fact that several departments were combining on the Safety First initiative.

“We've combined it because there were so many things crossing over between the two of them that we wanted to capture that together, and launch it as an internal brand,” he revealed.

SMBC also recently partnered with health and security specialist International SOS, which is now its travel risk provider.

Push Longer Business Trips

Delegates also heard how the bank was looking at business trips that last for two weeks, instead of one week, which can save the amount of flying.

Part of the reason was down to so-called "rogue travellers" — those employees that don't always stick to their company's official travel policy.  Some, for example, may head to the New York office and then three weeks later they return.

"We're trying to get people, not necessarily our CEOs, to send a message out saying that we should be continuing to travel, but travel smart," he told the 200 delegates at the Sky Garden. "So instead of maybe going to the New York office for four days, go for a week, or even go for 10 days."

It makes the trip "more effective" he argued, and could be tied in with efforts to travel more sustainably. But it also meant Talyor would need to further explore what happens during that time between the official meetings.

"We're trying to look at, within the travel hub and the travel teams that we have, we're looking at things that people can do when they're on a trip that is longer than just a couple of days .... and making suggestions of things that employees can do,” he said.

“I'm not going to sit here and say that we've got this over the line, but we're trying to work with our leadership on how can we support some activities for individuals, as well to make sure that this is the savings," he continued. "So if we look at one of our frequent travellers, this is what they were previously spending on travel, but if we reduce it and there's a cost saving and they're travelling smarter, then why can't we fund something to make sure they are getting that downtime?" 

Identify Challenges & Opportunities

One of the biggest barriers he faced was the pandemic impact. 

“One of the reasons it's challenging is because of the costs involved,” Taylor said. “The pandemic has caused so many challenges for us, and the travel industry was so affected by it, and now everyone is 'reduce cost, reduce cost.' So from my point of view, it was a challenge getting that across the line, to have it (Safety First) approved for us to launch..." 

He thinks other buyers will be facing similar challenges, but one aspect was to establish the link with keeping employees happy. He noted the bank realises that there is a cost associated when someone's leaving the organisation, which was a common theme during the entire summit.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that we've got this over the line, but we're trying to work with our leadership on how can we support some activities for individuals."

Taylor said that the bank's employees were grateful to have the extra support, despite the extra steps involved filling in forms, because it made the experience much easier and seamless for the individual.

"I think we need to really continually focus on (this) because that user experience, if we've got happy employees, then we're not going to have the big turnover if we're taking care of our people. But the user experience is not just about phoning the (travel) agency, it's about that whole thing."

Watch the full fireside chat, between Ryan Taylor, Category Manager for Travel at SMBC, and Jess Dunderdale, head of client partnerships, below.


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