Long regarded as a center of wasteful spending, reducing waste around corporate travel is a tough task since it is so directly linked to the personal tastes of individual travelers. Launching this year, ProcureCon Travel will assemble industry leaders from Oct. 26-28 in Fort Worth, Texas, to troubleshoot how choice can be preserved while making a meaningful impact on spend.
As procurement’s ability to create savings and serve as the architects of global policy around sourcing continues to be extended across organizations, jurisdiction is being broadened to cover some historically difficult to control areas of spend. These areas include IT, contingent labor and travel, all categories that have been growing in terms of spend as well as relative importance to companies in the modern globalized business environment. Out of these three categories, travel is by far the most subject to personal and cultural differences, and the intimate nature of an individual’s travel preferences places an undeniably human challenge in front of procurement teams who may be more used to managing and controlling costs around purely tactical spending categories.
High degrees of flexibility and easily manageable global policy are not necessarily complementary concepts on the base level, which is one of the reasons why procurement has been called in to tackle the strategic management of the travel category. Long considered to be one of the areas most susceptible to “rogue spend,” the elimination of what a department would assume to be frivolous must be carefully examined in order to avoid curtailing what travelers may consider to be essential to a pleasant travel experience. More than any other category, aside from perhaps contingent labor, a close relationship with HR will be important to taking the cultural temperature of an organization so that boundaries may be drawn in a manner that preserves the largest amount of choice and comfort for travelers being asked to comply with policy.
Global travel in the current geopolitical climate requires a scrutinizing eye for safety and reliability, as well as the creation of visibility around spend that is at the crux of what procurement departments require for effectiveness. Education around safety protocols and standards will be a major part of building safety and a culture of compliance around corporate travel. Accounting for when things do go wrong during travel, there is a high premium on an effective chain of command internally that can work to coordinate a response, necessitating the creation of global policies that are clearly understood and flexible enough to be adopted in an international business environment.
As with IT, consolidation on the part of major service providers in the travel space has made it tough to negotiate around the creation of value for procurement teams. Both air travel and lodgings are experiencing resurgence in demand as the American economy moves towards a more permanent state of recovery. In this environment, procurement needs to come to the table armed with best practices, as well as the talent that can execute them, if they seek to create the greatest amount of value possible for their organizations. Even as teams work towards building value, they must still not forget about the fact that they are sourcing for a category that is highly personal and subject to tastes which vary both individually and culturally. This adds the extra variable of preserving choice to the already complex equation present around sourcing.
In response to these emerging challenges, ProcureCon Travel is in its inaugural year. While in the past, travel has been addressed at the other annual ProcureCon conferences on the East and West coasts, this new event specifically focuses on some of the more specific challenges facing those who have both spent years managing the category, or may have only recently been asked to step up an attempt to understand, analyze, and manage the spend. Industry leaders will come together in round tables to present their successes and challenges, and gain best practices from case studies presented by their peers making up a seasoned speaking faculty at the director level and above. As the challenges of managing sourcing for corporate travel continue to evolve and push the strategic capability of procurement to its limit, the ProcureCon Travel conference promises to serve as a collaborative forum for the best and brightest in the industry, where best practices can be presented, refined, and adopted.