Business Travel Blog

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Why making small incremental changes adds up to great gains

Sheffield Hallam University - PTMG

Liz Wallington, Strategic Procurement at Sheffield Hallam University, shares how she has made incremental improvements that delivered significant gains when it comes to increasing efficiency, productivity and cost-saving.


We apply the concept of marginal gains to every aspect of booking business travel. This is because I know from experience that when I make a series of small changes to processes that deliver savings?" a one per cent saving here, a one per cent there?" they collectively add to major improvements.

Find suppliers who take pride in saving you money


A TMC needs to know your business inside out, to proactively find ways to make booking and managing travel as efficient and as productive as possible.


Every quarter, Clarity provide us with data on where our money has been spent. Together we can ask, ‘what are we doing?’, ‘where are we spending?’ and ‘where are the opportunities for saving?’

Always ask ‘where’s the opportunity to save?’


Universities are under increased commercial pressures, so we continually look to ensure we are getting value for money in all services we procure. With academics and staff traveling nationally and internationally, we need to ensure we book the most appropriate and cost effective travel.


This also means looking at savings on a micro-level. Clarity provide detailed data that enables me to identify travellers or bookers who could adopt better practices. This ‘behind the scenes’ activity allows me to target individuals with cost-saving nudges, such as “we could save money if you book your train tickets two weeks in advance” or “if you get the train 15 minutes later you could travel off peak”.


These small nudges add up to significant savings.


Arm yourself with the right tools


We have simplified the process of booking travel. A crucial part of that has been building all our internal authorisations into our TMC’s online and offline booking system. This means we never need to raise a PO. Instead all the details are logged at point of request, forwarded to the relevant people in the organisation and, once it’s signed off, the itinerary is booked and insurance documents arranged. This streamlined, seamless process saves time and administration. 


Duty of care


We book all our international travel through our TMC, because they provide an excellent duty of care package. Not only do they police applications for travel to banned countries, ensuring they act as a gatekeeper, preventing staff from travelling to countries we feel are unsafe; but they know exactly where every one of our travellers are at any one time: with over 4,000 members of staff, it’s imperative you know who is where.


This means the minute there’s an incident, Clarity can respond, contact our travellers and provide a full status report. This gives us total peace of mind, knowing we are providing the best possible duty of care.


Know the worth


The level of fees we pay our TMC is less than three per cent of the money we spend with them. Yet they provide us with real value, through the time we save. When you’re on the phone to amend a booking for the fifth time - because an academic’s schedule has changed yet again - they are worth every single penny.


Their expertise means they can amend bookings, plan last minute trips, or organise a conference, swiftly; and their position in the market means we can tap into preferential rates. Overall, our TMC provide us with savings in both man-hours and hard costs.

Planes, trains and marginal gains is now available to download here


At Clarity, we pride ourselves on doing things differently, bringing our clients a brighter approach to business travel and we hope this report will be able to provoke debate and conversations between business travellers, travel buyers, Travel Management Companies and suppliers. 


We’d love to hear what you think too. Feel free to join the conversation using the hashtag #MarginalGains