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5 Takeaways From the Uniting Mobility and Business Travel Webinar

Following the publication of our Uniting Global Talent Mobility and Business Travel: Best Practices and Cost Savings whitepaper, AltoVita and Festive Road held a webinar to discuss its key findings. 

The whitepaper’s results were also challenged by Festive Road’s Ian Jones, who quizzed both a leading travel buyer and mobility manager. 

Overall the research discovered many businesses fail to realise significant cost savings in their extended stay programmes by not having a join-up approach.

But read what the experts had to say with these 5 key points from the 45-minute virtual event (which you can watch in full here).

1. Merging Mobility and Travel Is About Spend, Not Operations 

One misconception is that uniting mobility with corporate travel is something performed at an operational level. For Samantha Van Leeuwen, Head of Hotels and Venues at PwC, that’s not the case, as it was about consolidating spend.

“I’m not combining departments, I’m combining spend, to put it into one process,” she pointed out during the webinar.  

”We brought all those areas together — not as one team, but as members of a team,” Samantha Van Leeuwen, PwC

Van Leeuwen also revealed this merging concept isn’t so new. At PwC she said she had embarked on this journey 10 years ago.

“I realised we were missing out on a lot of cost savings, based on the accommodation for long-stay business, so that’s with travel, with talent, with graduates, and with global mobility,” she told webinar co-host Jess Dunderdale, Senior Director of Client Partnerships at AltoVita. ”We brought all those areas together — not as one team, but as members of a team.”

In that early phase, she also shared how the consulting company was able to achieve 30-50% cost savings by bringing in its global mobility department’s accommodation spend with its hotel spend figures that align with AltoVita’s whitepaper findings.

2. Think Beyond Serviced Apartments Alone 

Extended stay also means more than typical serviced apartments, the webinar audience heard. Today there are growing types of accommodation employees are checking in to, including co-living and private homes among others.  

As Van Leeuwen notes: “We not only just use hotels and serviced apartments, we look at corporate housing and other types of accommodation that are the most cost effective.”   

3. Transparency Counts

A transparent approach can lead to even more savings. Another advantage PwC experienced by combining departmental spend was that it was able to eradicate extra fees.

Van Leeuwen said: “It was particularly to bring our global mobility teams onboard, because we discovered agents they were working with were charging them a fee to place the accommodation, but also at the same time they were getting a commission from the supplier. In my terms, they were ‘double dipping’ when it comes to costs which is not the most cost effective way of doing things.” 

Bringing everything together enabled a transparency to have one process for all services, she added.

4. The Need to Make a Case 

Diogo Matos, Global Mobility Services Manager at Solvay, discussed how the chemical company was undergoing a transformation, and how mobility was being looked at duirng that process.

“We are in the right period to transform many parts of the company, and global mobility cannot be set aside.”

Matos said that the timing was right to consolidate spend, but needed to put together a watertight case when uniting global mobility and travel.

"We need to understand the appetite for change," he said. "Do we have the right resources? Do we want to invest in it or not? My idea is yes: we want to change, and we want to invest. 

"We need to show cost savings, that’s one of the most important things, but cost savings doesn’t mean cut some of the things. It means adding some things ... taking the right data, and using the right data, and having it at your disposal, is key to making changes.”

5. Communication Counts

The webinar also heard how a travel programme, whether for short or extended stays, needed to give employees the means to communicate in the channel that suits them.

As Van Leeuwen notes, there are different levels of people. “Some graduates, they don’t believe in a telephone, they want to use WhatsApp to contact someone, they want to go online and see some information … they don’t want to call anyone,” she says. “Whereas someone in business travel, one of our senior partners, may actually want to call someone for help. You need the human-led approach for that.”

To find out more how cost savings are achieved by uniting short-stay and extended-stay accommodation, download our free whitepaper.

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