Travel Buyer Q&A: Duncan Edwards, Inchcape

Building on a well-established relationship with its TMC, Inchcape’s global head of demand and supply Duncan Edwards is focused on better online booking tools

What is the scale of your travel demand?
We have more than 18,000 employees operating across 32 developed and emerging markets. Most of our international travel is out of the UK, principally handled by our TMC, Blue Cube Travel. In other markets, travel is in-region and managed locally.

Has the number of trips or destinations risen over the past three years?
Our travel has grown significantly as Inchcape continues to expand, but we have been good at managing the overall budget – we have kept the annual spend more or less the same. Key markets that account for more than 30 per cent of our international travel include Central and South America, Africa, Russia, and Australia.

How did you get into your current role?
I joined Inchcape in January as the global head of demand and supply having gained more than 20 years of global procurement experience across many diverse industries, including airlines, consumer electronics and, most recently, at G4S as the group procurement director for Americas, Asia and Africa.

What is top of your agenda for the future?
Our key focus for travel in 2019 is to consolidate and digitalise which, in turn, will improve our duty-of-care towards our employees, improve efficiency, effectively control demand and enable the group to leverage its global scale. This dovetails with Inchcape’s strategic objective of focusing on a digital experience for our customers and employees, as part of our Ignite Strategy, announced in 2016.

We are working with Blue Cube to implement the TMC’s online booking tool for our global head office. Inchcape has been a client of Blue Cube for 16 years and it is well respected within our business for its service levels and customer support. But we need to move from purely offline servicing to incorporating an online tool. This will enable us to consolidate all bookings via Blue Cube, close down leakage, drive better booking behaviour and optimise costs.

If you could change one aspect of the wider corporate travel sector, what would that be?
The one key area of frustration is around functionality of most online booking tools – for two key reasons: first, many solutions try to be too clever and intuitive, sometimes at the expense of getting the basics right, and ensuring the booker is truly selecting the best cost option. Second, having to use multiple booking tools to support an operation with a global footprint – this, in turn, leads to the requirement to have booking data fed from multiple platforms which impacts on being able to generate meaningful global management reports with the required level of granularity and actionable data.

Having reviewed Blue Cube’s solution, BC Online, which is powered by Atriis, I am pleased that it has greater focus on content, including NDC, with a booking process that is straightforward.

Inchcape plc is a global distribution and retail leader in the premium and luxury automotive sectors. It focuses on the post-factory automotive value chain for original equipment manufacturing partners. With 18,700 employees, it operates in 32 markets, including UK and Europe, Asia, Australasia and emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Russia and South America

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