Travel Buyer Q&A: George Grund, ITV

ITV Studios produces programmes such as The Jeremy Kyle Show and The Voice, and shows for other channels, including The Graham Norton Show and Bodyguard – which means travel buyer George Grund has a lot of celebrities to keep happy

How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve been with ITV for six years. Prior to ITV, I spent five years at Apple, and before that I worked at Advito and Delta Air Lines.

Who do you work with?
We have a number of TMCs in place, with Altour managing our biggest regions, including the UK, the US and France. We have implants at our offices in London, Manchester, NYC and LA. Our travel can be a nightmare and very last-minute, so we put a focus on finding the right travel consultants.

Who do you count as your travellers?
While most people are familiar with ITV the broadcaster, the production arm of ITV is where most of our travel volume comes from. Some 70 per cent of our travel is production, so that’s cast, crew and guests, and making sure they arrive on time: five minutes late for a meeting is bad, but five minutes late for live TV is a disaster! The other 30 per cent is standard corporate travel. Our global spend is £25 million annually.

What are the challenges?
A prime example is Love Island; I remember receiving a call from the production team in April saying they would need 2,000 room nights in the peak summer weeks in Majorca and near a “villa” where the show would be filmed.

Also, finding the right travel consultants is a challenge. Our teams need people that can think outside of the box, have a strong personality – and a thick skin! Consultants are in a position where they know who is going into the shows, or any twists to a series before they go on air, so confidentiality is key.

What excites you about your role?
Every day is different and things change by the second. Most of our productions have a lot of freelancers working on them and they are used to booking their own travel. My role is to demonstrate to them that our “managed travel” model can bring savings and benefits to their shows.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
Setting up the US travel operation. ITV has grown hugely in the US, where we’re now the largest non-scripted independent production company. This rapid growth has forced me to come up with strategies that work for a small production team that’s budget-driven, through to a huge, high-budget scripted production.

ITV consists of two main divisions: broadcast and online, and ITV Studios. It is led by former Easyjet boss Dame Carolyn McCall. In the six months to the end of June, the company reported revenues of £1.8 billion, more than £800 million of which was generated by ITV Studios

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