BTN 2017 BEST PRACTITIONER
Benjamin Park’s end-to-end small meetings program has realized savings not only by leveraging transient rates for meetings
but also by producing soft-dollar productivity increases. Parexel has launched the program in Europe and soon will roll it out in
DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL
PROCUREMENT & TRAVEL
globalized travel and expense policy to ensure its strategic
transformation. “We also had to understand that the new policy was not about savings; it was about wowing the traveler,”
Schoen said, advising that the biggest challenge with mature
programs is that savings largely come as a byproduct of progressive procurement, streamlined processes and behavioral
change that facilitate a shift to personal responsibility.
The team spent a year creating the global framework, all the
Empowering Siemens’ Businesses
while building buy-in and increasing engagement with Sie-
mens executive leadership. “We measured the benefits against
our four strategic enablers. Whenever anyone got too over-
board or involved in their own heads on this, we could say,
‘You are not wowing me,’” Schoen said. “We wanted to focus
on the experience of the traveler and how the program would
further enable the business purpose of the trip.”
Last September, the Siemens global managing board issued
the global travel framework. Each country was required to
submit a single version based on the framework but adjusted
to reflect local law, regulation and labor agreement require-
ments. “Otherwise, any deviations have to be presented to
leadership and could be difficult to realize,” said Schoen.
“Our leadership is that invested in the outcome.”
The new policy framework provides a road map for Siemens
businesses to liberate travelers from onerous requirements
and to drive more agility in travel decision-making.
Eliminating pre-trip approvals. In terms of minimizing process, eliminating pre-trip approvals was among the biggest
policy changes. While much of the company was subject to
What’s a small meeting for Parexel
We have a lot of meetings [that are] for
about 20 people. Those are the ones we
are targeting with this small meetings
tool. We faced the challenge, like many
companies, that the admins are in charge
of these small meetings and they want to
stay in charge but they don’t necessarily like the bureaucratic work of contract
review and sending things off to legal,
covering privacy assurances, getting the
invoice … you know.
But it’s also limited, in a way, to make
the planning process simpler, yes?
Yes. In other meeting tools, you can select
like 20 or 30 hotels, and the hotels know
that. Through our tool, we limit the small
meetings to four bids. The hotels know the
meeting has only four bids, so they are
getting a 25 percent hit rate. They like this.
Are you prioritizing any hotels for your
We push our transient preferred properties
to the top of the list as long as they meet
the meeting requirements. [The organizer]
selects what properties they like. If one
hotel rejects, they can select another so
they always have four competitive bids.
The terms and conditions are sent; internal signatures are collected electronically.
There’s no paper sent around.
How does the payment work?
We’re using a virtual credit card to
guarantee and pay for the hotel. It’s big in
Europe and it’s coming to the U.S. more
and more. So once the invoice comes in,
we use a third party to check if the invoice is matching the contract. If there’s
a full match, then it gets automatically
paid and done. If there is a mismatch
larger than a certain threshold, the third
party sends it back to the admin [for
clarification]. They [also] enrich the date
on the virtual credit card to the Level 3
data which is necessary for VAT reclaim.
So we basically get the invoice from the
credit card and we don’t even need the
hotel invoice anymore.
From an adoption standpoint, have you
The process is easy. The admins love to
use it, and they are telling others about it.
I don’t find that I have to get out the policy
stick and tell people they have to use it.
We introduced a meeting registration
feature that we’ve had challenges with
adoption because our people prefer email,
but we are working on that.
How does this fit into Parexel’s
overall travel management strategy at
We’re moving away from focusing on
sourcing and savings because that is
generally all done. Every new sourcing effort, every new negotiation—the outcome
is only marginal. So we’re focusing a lot
on where we are adding value, where
we have expensive labor doing repetitive
work. I want to be sure I’m setting up the
company with tools and processes that
can be used globally and that are scalable.
[As] Parexel acquires and grows, we need
processes that don’t rely on humans to do
repetitive task-based work.
“The admins love
to use it. ... I don’t
find that I have
to get out the
policy stick and
tell people they
have to use it.”