In 2005, MMC’s London office implemented KDS Corporate in order to gain better control over travel, easing the travel booking process for thousands of employees and bringing time and cost savings to the company’s bottom line.
MMC, a global professional services firm with 55,000 employees in 100 countries, was aware that the travel management landscape was changing and in 2004 seized the opportunity to review its travel procedures. The company’s London office was aware it was falling behind in its processes, which relied on manual booking systems managed by a Travel Management Company (TMC). MMC conducted all its travel bookings via telephone or free form emails, a time consuming and labour intensive practice.
When advanced self-booking tools first began appearing on the market MMC became interested, although initial product offerings did not fully address its requirements. MMC needed to gain advantages from higher visibility of all available fares, access to low cost carriers, a true global platform with multilingual capabilities, and a way to drive down TMC costs by reconfiguring the way the company made bookings.
KDS Corporate came onto MMC’s radar in 2004. Following a thorough tender process, MMC selected KDS in February 2006 and branded the solution internally as iTravel. The core technology from KDS gave MMC:
- A global solution supporting 11 languages and more than 170 currencies;
- Direct access to MMC negotiated fares, hotel rates, airline schedules, car hire and rail;
- A smart and powerful fare quote engine;
- Multiple travel information sources (GDS, supplier sites and web based information) properly configured for comprehensive travel management;
- The ability to integrate with and manage MMC’s complex authorisation process
MMC unique automated validation workflow
KDS’s advanced workflow was key in enabling MMC to automate its complex authorisation processes. The company’s workflow includes nine different levels of supervision, each based on the trip’s cost. Low cost air, hotels and car hire require no pre-authorisation; all scheduled compliant and non-compliant air travel requires pre-authorisation.
MMC recognised that achieving the desired benefits and cost savings would demand high user adoption rates. MMC’s UK travel manager and her team took total ownership for the implementation, which involved them training over 700 staff. They also worked to ensure buy-in from the TMC’s in-house consultants, who made an essential and highly positive contribution to the project. This strategy was key to the success of the implementation and the excellent results achieved.
At the same time, the KDS system itself encouraged adoption through its ease of use for travellers, with features such as:
- Travel Options Display: On a single screen, travellers are given a comprehensive overview of their travel options, including scheduled and low cost airlines, rail, car hire and hotels, with availability and pricing displayed in real time;
- Booking Guidance: The system helps users and approvers to police their own spending by automatically comparing the price of their chosen travel option to the lowest priced comparable alternative and automatically highlighting the potential savings;
- Seat Map: Travellers are able to select their own seats at the time of booking (with upper deck seat selection soon to be added)
MMC’s current air spend is £10 million while its hotel room spend is £12 million. Within seven months, user adoption had reached an impressive 74% of all compatible transactions and 86% of point-to-point journeys. By December 2006, 84% of all transactions and 93% of point-to-point bookings were managed through the KDS system.
“With our dedicated TMC team, I felt quite confident they were offering low fares wherever possible. However, with the choice of fare being the responsibility of the booker or traveller, miscommunication often led to unnecessarily high fares being chosen – the cry “I need a flexible fare” comes to mind! The ‘visual guilt’ effect of the KDS Lost Savings indicator was therefore the compelling factor in the savings we began to achieve, helping to drive spend levels down substantially.” – Lynne Lawrence, UK Travel Manager for MMC
With such high adoption rates and its strategy to fully unlock the benefits of KDS Corporate, MMC saw immediate benefits:
- TMC costs were lowered by 25% through enhanced booking efficiencies;
- Transaction costs were reduced by 18% between 2006 and 2007;
- Cost reductions were achieved across the board for top city pairs in the UK and Europe. For example, journeys to and from London saw the following savings:
Edinburgh – 36%
Glasgow – 23%
Manchester – 24%
Amsterdam – 39 %
Budapest – 31 %
Munich – 14%
Zurich – 10%