Travel Buyer Q&A: Pam Booth, Impellam Group

Impellam Group’s travel programme spends around £3.5 million in the UK, US$1 million in the US and A$4 million in Australia. It recently completed the move of 12 brands in the UK to a single TMC, led by group procurement manager Pam Booth

How long have you been in your current role?
It’s been 14 months now. I was initially hired as an interim but now I’ve taken a permanent role.

What are the key elements of your programme?
Technology is key for us. We have around 2,000 travellers in the UK, so we need a platform that’s user-friendly but allows us to influence compliance. We chose to go for separate TMCs in each of our three regions as well, as the travel is very domestic in each one, so I felt that local knowledge would be key. Compliance is very important. We have some big targets to hit, so need everyone to book in policy.

What non-travel duties do you have?
I am responsible for all UK and US indirect procurement, excluding IT and Property, so lots of other duties. Usually I am juggling around 20 or more balls at a time! My colleague Debbie Blantern deals with most of the day-to-day “noise” on travel as well now.

You’ve recently hired a new TMC, Clarity. Why?
The procurement function at Impellam is new, and previously all of our 18 brands were free to do their own thing. We implemented Concur as a global expense management tool in 2018 and needed to get control of the travel spend. We found eight TMCs being used and in excess of 20 per cent direct booking in the UK. It was a mess!

What were the challenges of having a new TMC?
Getting hold of all of the relevant data from eight TMCs, expense reports and corporate cards. We were still finding more data six months after the project kicked off. We also had a lot of “reluctant” travellers who didn’t want to change. Fortunately we had the support of our chief executive and leadership team, which helped. We also had representatives from nearly all of our brands involved in the tender, and they have become our “travel champions”.

What has been the biggest win from the move?
Savings! The improved compliance, and sole TMC, are helping us achieve savings on fees and hotels. We are also reducing our rail costs through education. We placed a heavy emphasis on buying behaviours in our training for the OBT and no one can book travel until they have completed an online training module. We also have lots of reminders throughout the booking journey.

What keeps you awake at night?
After we first went live, we had a few issues from both sides (which was to be expected) but I’m a perfectionist, so it was definitely keeping me awake at night. I had to keep telling myself that bringing 12 UK brands from where they were, to one TMC in the space of six months was no mean feat. Actually, nothing major went wrong.

Impellam Group Plc is a global managed services and specialist staffing company with 18 brands in specific markets, including healthcare, legal, engineering and technical, construction, catering, driving, office and industrial. It has around 3,200 staff operating across the UK, North America, Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East.

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