Strategy

How energy, resources and marine companies can lower travel costs in this challenging environment

by Peter Brady, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Global Products, CWT Energy Resources and Marine

Increasingly, companies in the energy, resources and marine sectors are looking for new ways to reduce costs amid an extended period of uncertainty in global markets and volatile oil prices. Companies no longer have an infinite pool of financial resources to fix their problems with money, and are now increasingly looking inward to streamline their operating processes to reduce expenditure and overall costs.

Travel, however, remains a key function for these companies in maintaining their dayto- day operations – at rigs, fields or mines, which have to be continuously serviced by crews all year round. Many companies in these industries have yet to figure out how to optimise their travel function, and herein lies the opportunity to reduce costs for the company’s long term benefit.

A simple solution

The travel processes in these industries are still fairly complex with many overlaps in functions and responsibilities. By leveraging technology to streamline their logistics and corporate travel arrangements – and essentially simplify the whole system by managing it as a single process – organisations are able to cut their travel expenditure by up to 15 per cent, as well as quicken the overall time for travel arrangements by up to 75 per cent!

Other benefits of this simplified, streamlined process include:
• a more efficient booking process;
• simplified internal and external reporting mechanisms;
• greater traveler compliance and safety; and
• improved responsiveness to urgent travel changes and requests.

Achieving this, however, requires a good understanding of how travel in these sectors works.

In the energy, resources and marine industries, the process of managing staff and contractor travel is typically a very complex process. There are distinct processes and requirements involved in commercial travel arrangements (e.g. a flight between Delhi and Mumbai) and logistics (e.g. chartered helicopter flights to offshore rigs and site accommodation).

As such, organisations frequently keep separate in-house travel desks to manage these arrangements. This results in multiple touch points, a disconnect between logistics and commercial travel, and an overall inefficient travel experience for operators, booking agents and ultimately business travelers.

In addition, legacy IT infrastructures in these businesses mean that these multiple processes are managed through manual spreadsheets. The changing nature of the offshore business thus makes it harder for companies to accommodate any last minute travel requests or changes from their travelers, resulting in companies and passengers being left with very few travel choices that may not be ideal. Travelers who are frustrated or discouraged are more liable to make non-compliant travel decisions, thereby compounding this problem.

Moving to a streamlined approach

Initially, businesses may find it daunting to untangle the web of their various logistics and commercial travel arrangements to create a streamlined process. Here are three aspects of the travel process which companies should consider to systematically organise their processes, increase efficiency, and ultimately yield strong business results.

1. As a starting point, develop a thorough understanding of the process required to get a worker from home to worksite, and the impact that a single change to this process can have up- or downstream.
a. You may want to consider internal processes, such as who is creating the bookings, how the bookings are being made, what the approval processes are, what are the change requests and lead booking times

2. Examine the booking best practices throughout the organisation. a. Do all worksite or travel managers follow the same process when they coordinate and send travel requests to their respective travel desks? If not, why? Are line managers consistent with approvals and confirming change requests for workers on- and off-site?

3. Capturing data is key, and the best way to do this is through one data source.
a. Technology plays a critical role here. Instead of having travelers suffer the inefficiencies of having multiple touch points taking care of different booking needs, a streamlined process will channel all bookings through a single automated travel and logistics management system.
b. In addition, minimising systems and complexities while providing an efficient booking process will improve the consistency and quality in data used for financial reporting, workforce management and optimisation, traveler tracking and duty of care.
c. Rather than receiving a confusing array of itineraries for every segment of their journey (such as their commercial flights, hotel bookings, helicopter transfers to the rig), travelers enjoy ease of access and peace of mind through a single, simple and consolidated itinerary on a mobile app.

About the Author

Peter Brady is Vice President, Asia Pacific and Global Products, CWT Energy Resources & Marine (ERM). Based in Sydney, Peter is responsible for all aspects of managing CWT’s development and delivery of specialised travel management for over 350 of the world’s leading companies in the oil and gas, mining, offshore, marine and alternative energies industries. In addition, Peter leads CWT’s ERM global product innovation, development and implementations.

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