Croda International Case Study
A long-standing client explains how Travel Counsellors keeps their travellers in budget and in policy, infused with high levels of service
To retain a client for over 20 years speaks volumes about the travel experts managing the bookings. And so it is that Croda International, British makers and sellers of high performance speciality chemicals to the health and beauty and lubricants industries around the world, has long reaped the benefits of an experienced and familiar travel team.
“From a travel booking point of view, the relationship we have built up with Travel Counsellors makes our jobs so much easier,” says Helen Prince, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive & Board of Directors at Croda International.
“Our Travel Counsellors know our people (as well as our travel policy) incredibly well,” she adds. “Every person has a travel profile and this is added to over a period of time which means that Kevin and Kim have a really in-depth knowledge of people’s likes and dislikes.
“The booking process is very effective as we receive options that are tailor made to the traveller, helping us to narrow down even the most vague requests.” As a global company, travel regularly takes the executive board of parent company Croda International and some 300 sales reps and research scientists from the company’s manufacturing arm, Croda Europe, to overseas offices and meetings.
Kevin and Kim are Kevin Harber and Kim Wiltshire, the two-person Travel Counsllors team that brought Croda with them as a client seven years ago when they joined Travel Counsellors.
Top city pairs are Paris, New York, Singapore, Amsterdam and Barcelona, with Travel Counsellors looking after all its flights, something it spends nearly £1.75m on per annum.
New to the destination roster is West Africa, where the team are grappling with visa and safety issues in particular.
Hotel and ground transport bookings are handled by staff based in the extensive network of local Croda offices as they have negotiated preferential rates.
The company policy has to incorporate flexibility for the frequent last-minute bookings that the business demands; the majority of the bookings are made within four weeks of travel. Exceptions are the board meetings, the dates of which are known well in advance. But at its core are rules to drive cost savings wherever possible and receive value for money. “It’s probably a Yorkshire trait,” quips Helen.
Flights must be booked through Travel Counsellors, and loyalty points accrued are shared with travellers. The company also takes advantage of any upgrade offers and does encourage early booking.
“Plans change and we often weigh up the need for flexibility versus the cost of fixed tickets. Sometimes, it saves us money in the long run to go for the flexible option!” says Helen.
Nonetheless, Travel Counsellors has “trained them” to eschew the fully-flexible fares often topping the £2,000 mark for a less expensive fare type with a small fee attached for changes, as the client is still quids in. Quarterly reports from Travel Counsellors highlight how much is being spent and by which divisions.
Croda’s travel policy is based on grade, which dictates class of travel, but it’s business class for all on flights over eight hours. There is always latitude, explains Helen: “We will upgrade staff from standard class if they are travelling with a colleague on a higher grade, for example.”
Generally, Croda travellers are a compliant lot. “It’s a generous policy and no-one takes advantage,” says Travel Counsellor Kevin Harber. “The company culture is to treat it as their own money.” Helen describes the service she receives from Travel Counsellors as “exceptional”. “Kevin and Kim make our roles much easier – through the level of service we receive and their in depth knowledge of our travel requirements. Coming into the business as a new EA a couple of years ago, booking travel seemed like a daunting task but their help was invaluable.”
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