Cor­po­rate Chat­ter

With Karen Tso­lakis

Travel Daily - - News -

HELLO ev­ery­one.

To­day we wel­come back Chris Heptin­stall, QBE In­sur­ance’s Head of Pro­cure­ment. Chris is one of Aus­tralia’s most ex­pe­ri­enced pro­cure­ment pro­fes­sion­als with a long his­tory in busi­ness travel. We will also find out about his lat­est rip snorter novel - Chris is a writer of cor­po­rate con­spir­acy thrillers.

To­day he gives us a cor­po­rate cus­tomer’s eye view of the top five traits of an ef­fec­tive travel man­age­ment com­pany.

KT – So Chris, how is QBE cop­ing with all the hur­ri­cane in­sur­ance claims in the US?

CH – 2017 is likely to be the costli­est year in the his­tory of the global in­sur­ance in­dus­try. We have seen a suc­ces­sion of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters from Cy­clone Deb­bie to Hur­ri­canes Har­vey, Irma, Maria & Nate. QBE took over 1,300 calls a day af­ter Har­vey and it makes me very proud that we are help­ing to re­build the lives of so many im­pacted by th­ese ter­ri­ble events.

KT – You men­tioned there are five top traits of a great TMC. Let me guess, as a pro­cure­ment man­ager I’m bet­ting “value for money” would top your list?

CH – That’s cer­tainly im­por­tant, but it doesn’t make my list. As the in­dus­try ma­tures, value for money is now ex­pected as a given.

KT – So what is the sin­gle most valu­able at­tribute of a TMC?

CH - Hav­ing great peo­ple is the sin­gle best at­tribute a TMC can bring to the ta­ble. One of my favourite busi­ness quotes reads “The best of the best un­der­stand that peo­ple do busi­ness with peo­ple they like”. It shows the im­por­tance of emo­tional in­tel­li­gence in busi­ness and it’s even more per­ti­nent in the travel in­dus­try. A great TMC will es­tab­lish a per­sonal con­nec­tion with their key cus­tomers and act quickly on feed­back about poor per­for­mance within their team.

KT – So hav­ing great peo­ple is at the top of your list. Can you give me an­other key at­tribute?

CH – In­no­va­tion. Large cor­po­ra­tions are look­ing for fresh ideas and el­e­gant busi­ness so­lu­tions. QBE is a leader in In­sur­ance but not in travel. We ex­pect our TMC to ad­vo­cate and de­liver the lat­est best prac­tices in travel in­no­va­tion, to keep us in­formed of new de­vel­op­ments and ini­ti­ate smarter and bet­ter in­sights into our travel pro­gram. I should not have to go to a con­fer­ence or pay a con­sul­tant to hear about some­thing new that can ben­e­fit our trav­ellers. KT – So give me an ex­am­ple? CH – Our TMC has been very ac­tive in help­ing QBE im­prove its trip ap­proval process. By sim­pli­fy­ing the process but main­tain­ing the right de­gree of com­pli­ance, we can se­cure more dis­counted air­line seats.

KT – And what are the other three at­tributes in your list?

CH – Hav­ing the right cul­tural fit would be the third - demon­strat­ing close col­lab­o­ra­tion based on shared val­ues. A fourth would be lead­ing edge tech­nol­ogy and the fifth is rep­u­ta­tion. Good rep­u­ta­tions come from a gen­uine de­sire to ex­ceed the cus­tomer’s needs. Why then would you move?!

KT - Agree! Now, as a pro­cure­ment man­ager, there must be things that peeve you about travel sup­pli­ers in gen­eral?

CH – It would be an­noy­ing if a TMC were to charge for as­sist­ing with an air­line sav­ings anal­y­sis, giv­ing gen­eral ad­vice or de­liv­er­ing a stan­dard re­port. An­other pet peeve is charg­ing a man­ual book­ing fee for re­solv­ing a tech­ni­cal glitch with the on­line book­ing tool.

KT – Chris, your third novel is about to be launched on Ama­zon on Tue. Tell us a lit­tle bit about it.

CH – It’s called The Last Or­a­cle and it’s set in Egypt and Green­land. It’s a cli­mate change thriller and the hero has joined a frack­ing com­pany drilling for oil in the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive Green­land ice shelf. Sam Jar­dine must not only de­feat a group of self-serv­ing politi­cians and oil ex­ec­u­tives, but stop a mas­sive melt­wa­ter flood from dev­as­tat­ing the planet. It’s highly top­i­cal and I’m very ex­cited about the launch.

To pre-or­der Chris Heptin­stall’s new thriller for 99c CLICK BE­LOW.

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