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Speeding Up And Simplifying Business Travel At James Fisher


Accelerating business travel at James Fisher

7 min
James Fisher Marine Services Ltd.
Marine engineering

James Fisher Marine Services Ltd. (JFMS), part of the UK’s leading marine services provider James Fisher and Sons plc, provides a variety of technical and operational services to energy industries worldwide. Responsible for a vast offshore industry, the company delivers turnkey solutions for the maintenance of oil rigs, wind turbines, wind farms, vessels, and more.

JFMS employs approximately 200 people across numerous sites in the UK and more than 400 sub-contractors and required a business travel program that could meet their needs.

The challenge 

Providing support for the offshore industry requires different areas of expertise, as every situation is unique. Expert divers may be called in to fix a vessel for example, while highly skilled engineers may be urgently needed on oil rigs. Like many companies in this type of service industry, JFMS doesn’t employ individuals with project-specific expertise on a full-time basis as the need for their involvement is often sporadic. Instead, sub-contractors play an essential role, with more than 400 of them working for the company at any given time.

Within JFMS, there’s a dedicated projects delivery team with multiple responsibilities, including all of the company’s logistics and business travel. This also includes 24/7 operational support to assist with active offshore projects.

The project services team faced various challenges and issues with their business travel. Lisa Murphy, who leads the business operations team at JFMS, made it her priority to find a solution to tackle ongoing business travel hurdles.

The unique requirements of JFMS meant Murphy needed to find a travel management company (TMC) that was responsive, informative, and efficient in order to cope with the business’ operational and logistical demands.

“The company we previously used for travel management was not responsive enough to meet the complex demands we face within the marine industry,” Murphy said. “One of the key selling points of Egencia was the self-booking function, meaning individuals have the ability to view their own journey planner and cancel bookings with the click of a button, which is often necessary because of the urgency and flexibility required for many of our projects.”

Picking up speed with Egencia 

By using managed business travel with Egencia, the project services team was able to react to travel requests with confidence, knowing they could meet the demands within the restricted timeframes they often faced.

“Before moving to Egencia, previous business travel companies struggled to accommodate our needs,” Murphy said. “To put this into perspective, we’re frequently required to coordinate the travel of 20-plus engineers, technicians, and divers, including flights, cars, hotels, luggage, and other requirements like oversized luggage for things like diving equipment. And all of this often happens at short notice, and with location-specific restrictions.”

These problems were solved with the features of Egencia’s single digital travel platform, which added speed and efficiency to the team’s booking capabilities and removed a lot of the burden around administrating travel.

The platform features, which include bulk data management, guest profiles, lodge card, and more, have simplified the booking and managing experience for travellers and travel managers. With bulk data management, travel managers can create and update multiple traveller profiles at one time. Guest profiles made managing contractors’ travel easier — as short-term employees, travel managers weren’t required to create full profiles to book their travel.

The platform also supports the project services team with its reporting functionality. Reports on all travel activity are easy to access, and data visualisation makes it easier to look at spend and travel trends to identify how their travel program is performing.

“Our Egencia account manager is great,” Murphy said. “She’s used the reporting to demonstrate compliance patterns for traveller groups and highlighted pain points, like noncompliance and late booking that we can completely eliminate.”

Reporting is also used to track down employees and contractors by their scheduled itineraries, which helps Murphy’s team log in and assist travellers as needed.

“The nature of our job means that we’re on call to assist our workforce, including our travellers,” Murphy said. “Naturally, there are immediate and unexpected situations in the industries we service, and it was important that JFMS found a company that operated 24/7 to assist with the around-the-clock requirements of our team.”

“With the Egencia platform, we can log in and find traveller information straightaway and even make amendments on the go from wherever we are.”

“With the Egencia platform, we can log in and find traveller information straightaway and even make amendments on the go from wherever we are.”

Simplifying finances in a multifaceted workforce

The project services team are able to set policy limits in the business travel platform and adjust accordingly based on whether the traveller is an employee or contractor.

“Sub-contractors don’t have the same privileges as normal policy allows, so it’s great that we can customise this and set limits for them in the guest profiles on the Egencia platform,” Murphy said. 

“They also prefer not to give credit cards when booking or staying anywhere, so we use the lodge card to pay for everything. We prepay and invoice in one go, so there are no fiddly expenses.”

This simple and effective solution makes life easier for the project services team and promotes traveller satisfaction with employees and contractors. Travellers aren’t having to track back their expenses or wait for payments. 

The lodge card means that Murphy’s team doesn’t have to collect expense reports from contractors and can instead manage all expenses in the platform through the lodge card. By keeping costs under one umbrella in the platform, the project team has been able to ensure a vast, complex travel spend is centralised, which simplifies tracking.

Finding savings

By using Egencia Analytics Studio, the project services team has visibility into their travel spend for the first time. This has helped the business identify savings opportunities, as well as demonstrate its cost management to key stakeholders.

“Spend is changeable as it depends on projects,” Murphy said. “The fact that everything goes through one route and is not fragmented simplifies reporting and cost-saving initiatives.”

The business controls costs by giving booking control to a select number of people on the project team. These team members oversee the management of travel for employees and sub-contractors on the road.

Travellers can log in to the platform and choose their options before a member of the project services team approves and completes the booking. And while this process is relatively unique to JFMS, the functionality of our platform means that any business can implement the platform’s features to fit their specific processes and needs.

The extensive content available on the platform also helps to play a role in controlling costs.

“We have made savings on travel by booking hotels with Egencia’s [preferred] rates,” Murphy said. This is a massive benefit for a company like JFMS, who has a large number of staff and contractors travelling often, at the same time, and often with little advance notice. They can benefit from potentially lower room rates without worrying about booking in advance.

Customer service that’s always there to help

Customer service is a big deal to JFMS’ travellers. The needs and requirements involved in their trips can be unique and demanding, and it’s crucial that expert help can be secured quickly, easily, and often urgently.  

“Customer service are very helpful with extra baggage. We need to take large equipment on some trips, so it’s really helpful to have customer service there on the phone to help sort it all out,” Murphy said. 

The project services team have been able to fully support employees since moving to managed business travel with Egencia. We provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in multiple local languages, with more than 80 percent of calls being picked up in the first 20 seconds.

The Egencia solution

The JFMS team has found numerous advantages in moving from their previous TMC to Egencia.

“The team found the implementation process to be easy and well-supported,” Murphy said. Highlighting the comprehensive account management support and regular technology updates that consistently improve the business travel experience at JFMS. By partnering with Egencia, JFMS has also been able to focus on cutting costs and promoting agility by taking advantage of our travel technology and always-on customer service.

Traveller satisfaction and ease-of-use have been key to promoting the travel program and encouraging compliance; the company has achieved a 95 percent online adoption rate.

“The visibility into travel options is good, and it’s easy to use. The fact that we can book hotels and transport in one booking is important to us too — it makes sense, so people want to use it,” Murphy explained. “I only hear about something if there’s a problem, so for me, no news is good news.”

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