April 23, 2024

ProcureCon Travel: compliance tops the bill

Compliance was the dominant theme of day one at this week's ProcureCon Travel conference, with company culture playing a significant role according to several procurement managers.

“I’ve been in organisations with strict travel policies in the past,” said Kim McGlinn of Workday, “but here it’s very simplistic and built around traveller preferences. Having seen both structures, I can say there are a lot more efficiencies in a simplified structure.”

McGlinn continued: “Historically our policy has been a guideline line and still is, but people stick to it. The only thing that is required – and it truly is – is that you book through our system.

“If you have your travellers only making decisions within the booking tool then they’re in the right place. We have our preferred suppliers up top within the tool and that’s who they’re choosing.”

A carefully planned booking tool implementation was fundamental to gaining compliance, McGlinn explained.

“The first thing we did was to get executive leadership endorsement. Then we met with key traveller groups and shared what was coming. We developed a toolkit for managers, including FAQs, and offer training online and in person.

“It really helps that our executive team is fully compliant, but as we’re a tech company people just like going online and getting it done anyway. If they don’t have to speak to someone, even better!”

Another procurement manager noted that as machine learning streamlined their company’s travel programme and reduced choice within its booking tool, compliance was increasingly difficult to achieve.

“As we got more efficient, we actually ended up with more rogue behaviour. With the internet, everyone thinks they’re the smartest booker around.

“But what they don’t realise is that if they book outside our tool we won’t know where they are or that the deals we have come with a lot of amenities.”

They added: “Managers are notified when bookings are made out of policy but it’s very passive. We’re fighting a battle to make it an approvals process so we can challenge bad bookings.”

The two-day event took place at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas and featured some 30 conference sessions and workshops alongside an exhibition of around 40 suppliers.