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Eversheds develops an innovative approach to travel booking through Reed & Mackay, KDS and Evolvi
International law firm Eversheds has been working with Reed & Mackay, KDS and Evolvi to develop an innovative approach to the firm’s travel booking system. Adopting the approach means that Eversheds has ensured savings and efficiencies that have enhanced the firm’s internal travel booking procedures.
Eversheds is one of the most modern and progressive law firms in the world. The firm and its worldwide offices have over 4,500 people who provide services to the private and public sector business and finance community. The firm is uniquely positioned as a law firm to provide local market knowledge and access with the specialisms, quality, resources and international capability of one of the world’s largest law firms.
Eversheds provides the full range of corporate legal services including company commercial advice, human resources, real estate and litigation and dispute management. The firm advises in industry sectors including central government, energy, financial institutions, food, healthcare, retail and transport.
Eversheds generates an annual spend of some £3m on travel.
The firm was looking to achieve greater travel and business efficiencies and highly-accurate management information and therefore required an online travel booking solution with the flexibility, speed and control to take advantage of the diverse range of rapidly-changing travel options, and prices, available today.
Eversheds found the answer through travel management company (TMC) Reed & Mackay, using KDS for air and hotel bookings and Evolvi for rail.
Elaine Winterbottom, Head of Strategy, Property and Facilities with Eversheds, says: “When I began working at Eversheds, I immediately understood that travel was my top priority. We needed to develop a booking solution that provided value for money and quality of service. Travel can be an emotive subject, directly affecting quality of life. The cost pressures created by the recession only intensified the need to find an innovative solution.”
The chosen solution had to meet Eversheds’ demanding standards and Reed & Mackay was selected after an interview process involving about 20 TMCs in total. “By talking to TMCs, we learnt a great deal about the travel booking process,” says Winterbottom. “Eversheds’ management were still very sceptical about TMCs and so I knew that I had to choose a solution that would not let me down. Any problems would have discredited the entire system.”
A pilot group was chosen to help draw up the specifications and to test Reed & Mackay’s proposed solution. All of the firm’s senior PAs, including the PA to the chief executive, were included in the process. “Their approval matters,” says Winterbottom, “and the pilot phase was very useful.”
The new system was rolled out on February 16 2009 and made available to all 4,500 of the firm’s staff.
Together, Reed & Mackay, KDS and Evolvi have certainly instilled confidence into Eversheds. Winterbottom says: “People have quickly realised for themselves how easy the system is to use and how much money can be saved.”
Eversheds is focused on creative and cost-effective solutions to ensure clients receive the best-quality service at the best price. Winterbottom says: “We are an innovative company. Now, we have a travel booking solution that matches our objectives.”
One helpful element in encouraging staff to proactively book the lowest available fare is the ‘visual guilt’ feature offered by KDS, whereby the full range of possible travel options is displayed on screen. “People don’t spend money unnecessarily when they can see that a lower fare is being offered,” explains Winterbottom. “If you can save £70 on a journey by going 10 minutes later, people will do so. And we now have a system with enough flexibility and control to allow our staff to make those kind of decisions themselves, depending on their personal needs and preferences.”
Another key requirement for Eversheds is ‘matter validation’, as efficient travel records are needed to ensure clients can be invoiced correctly. “We charge about 25% of our travel back to the client,” explains Winterbottom. Each cost therefore needs to be allied to the appropriate matter. “We need a travel management solution that can handle some 140,000 matter numbers. We established immediately that KDS could meet that requirement before moving forward with discussions. The travel solution we now have integrates directly with our accounting system.”
In the first quarter of use of the new Reed & Mackay system, Eversheds recorded a 33% reduction in travel spend compared to the same period in 2008. Over the course of the first full year of usage, the firm expects to see savings of at least £1m (€1.1m).
KDS provides a high-quality, efficient solution for Eversheds’ specific needs. Winterbottom explains: “We wanted a solution that did not charge us for a large team of TMC staff that we rarely used. KDS online booking minimises our costs. By using this system, we have been able to achieve substantial savings which we can pass on to our clients and staff.”
Winterbottom believes that KDS has clearly won over Eversheds at the highest level. “Whenever possible, our partners fly economy class, practising what they preach. And our clients have noticed and acknowledged the efforts we are making to provide the best possible value service.”
Eversheds has also seen how better travel efficiencies have led to better business efficiencies. “The management information we now hold allows us to see quickly and clearly who is flying where, when and why,” explains Winterbottom. “We can then look at streamlining and coordinating these trips more effectively. Can separate trips for two individuals, for example, be combined into a single visit for one person?”
Winterbottom concludes: “Reed & Mackay, KDS and Evolvi understood our issues and met them. The project has proved what can be achieved by establishing a close working partnership between client, TMC and suppliers.”