With Karen Tsolakis
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.