Building a Smart Business Travel Program

Building a Smart Business Travel Program

By Joseph R. Postiglione, VP, Chief Procurement Officer, National Basketball Association

Joseph R. Postiglione, VP, Chief Procurement Officer, National Basketball Association

Managing global

procurement comes with many challenges and opportunities one of which is how to best managing data to create a smart and efficient business travel program. In order to be in the best position to do that, we have created a strategic sourcing which delivers optimum supply contracts with travel suppliers, tactical procurement for day to day procurement and a procurement operations group which manages data analytics and technology.

Our technology tool set includes SAP for procurement, SAP/Concur for travel and expense management. We also have an enterprise data warehouse with various spend cubes in various stages of completion built specifically for procurement. These cubes allow us to normalize all travel supplier, other suppliers, accounts payable, SAP/Concur (travel and expense detail) and banking card provider Meta data. Once completed, this will allow us to have a single source of truth for all travel trips and business travels spend for business and event travel. Out of policy events generate notifications to the supervising manager and in the case of a higher class of service violation or in the case of international travel when fares are higher than a predefined amount, a formal approval is required.

"We are in a continuous improvement mode in terms of ensuring our travelers have a good experience"

Our business travel policy calls for:

• air travel to be booked at least 14 days in advance (preferably 21 whenever possible).

• utilization of NBA preferred suppliers.

• coach class for all US domestic flights

o Selection of the lowest logical airfare within a 2-hour window of take-off.

o 85 percent utilization use of the online travel booking tool.

We have created for senior management, department dashboards that show adherence to policy and individual traveler data.

We also leverage tools and technologies of our TMC and other select suppliers to get unique insights into our data with a focus on generating savings and correcting missed opportunities for savings. YAPTA is an example of another tool we use which dynamically tracks air and hotel prices as soon as airline tickets or hotel rooms are booked and if and when it finds a cheaper fare or room for the same class of service, it alerts us by sending instant savings alerts to our TMC so that it can be re-booked.

Demand management is a big focus for us especially when it comes to attendance at events (since Events is a big part of our travel). We’ve started creating criteria for attendance to events in order to find out from individuals if their travel is critical for event success or if there are opportunities for revenue generation. We are in a continuous improvement mode in terms of ensuring our travelers have a good experience while being mindful of managing costs and maximize use of technology where short duration face to face meeting is not required.

Duty of care is a big consideration when we make decisions around travel. Additional approvals from our security are required prior to travelling to identified high threat countries. Tools like LiveSafe and iJet help us protect our employees, assets, and reputation.

The combination of solid contracts, easy and effective tools for booking and expensing travel and the ability to accurately review and report on data gives us the very best opportunity to manage travel and expense smartly.

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