To succeed in the rapidly changing business travel landscape, you must start every day asking the same question: “What’s next?” That is AstraZeneca’s travel leader Kerrie Henshaw-Cox’s strategy and her philosophy. The past is only important because it provides building blocks for the future and shows how far you’ve come.
Over the last three years, Henshaw-Cox has been building—perhaps “rebuilding” is a better word—AstraZeneca’s corporate travel program into a global operation aligned with the pharmaceutical giant’s business. She led the program through a travel management company change, choosing BCD Travel and partnering with the TMC to consolidate 70 countries (now 75) in seven months. Today, her program is beginning to reap the benefits of that hard work, saving 15% on managed travel spend in a single year and gaining global data insights that take the guesswork out of answering that “What’s next?” question.
“The value that travel brings to the business needs to be reexamined and repositioned constantly as our business evolves,” Henshaw-Cox said. “What are the priorities of AstraZeneca’s R&D [research and development], commercial and operational business units, and how does travel support them? What are we doing to improve the trip experiences for our regular travelers?
“What’s the role of the travel manager as our business changes? Should AstraZeneca’s future travel program be managed less around geography and more around functionality and skill sets? How do we adapt to the possibility that the person who brings to the team a deep understanding of technology, data and analytics won’t come with a long history in travel?”
Socratic method shapes leadership style
Henshaw-Cox’s Socratic method is a hallmark of her leadership style. “It’s all about relationships. I’m open and honest with my people and our suppliers, and I ask lots of questions. I invite their opinions and ideas. We’re all on the same team. My logic is that you’ve chosen that person or company to do the job. You’ve made that decision, so trust it, be open to challenging one another and do whatever you can to create success.”
The global consolidation was a perfect example. Once AstraZeneca selected BCD for its program, Henshaw-Cox and her dedicated BCD program manager worked together to select the team that would accomplish the implementation and enable a next-generation travel program. It was a rare start-from-scratch opportunity because the company’s previous TMC had provided most of the travel program personnel. Henshaw-Cox’s new team was built by design. She and Claire Stephens, her main BCD contact and daily collaborator, recruited for skills and experience (most of the team has more than 20 years in the travel industry). They interviewed and interviewed again—seeking the right chemistry.
“I strongly believe that partnership is essential to our success. We’ve got great team spirit, a highly experienced group with a diverse set of skills, which allows us to drive the program proactively and respond rapidly when needed,” Henshaw-Cox said. “We work closely with our suppliers to ensure they deliver the quality of service and prices we require. We engage with our travelers on an ongoing basis to ensure there’s effective two-way dialogue. Vitally, we engage with AstraZeneca’s executive team and board to understand their vision and business goals and make sure travel is in alignment.
“We listen, really listen. I’m always willing to learn—and willing to learn how to learn,” Henshaw-Cox said. “There’s a time as a leader when you have to do some telling. But you always want to be asking, too.”
Value of technology lies in improving relationships
When she does her “telling” it’s directional and informed by experience. For example, she states without hesitation that technological change is certain and essential—but how a corporate travel program uses technology is not. She believes the value lies in technology’s ability to improve human relationships—to enable AstraZeneca employees to communicate, collaborate or move from place to place faster and easier.
She’s excited about BCD’s TripSource® platform, which lets travelers manage itineraries, self-serve bookings and tap into program resources via a web interface or mobile app. AstraZeneca uses TripSource as a communications tool—sending messages reminding travelers to use preferred suppliers or report in during a crisis. “Travelers are telling us that having everything in one place through TripSource is making their lives easier,” Henshaw-Cox said. “It aligns with our ‘Smart, Simple and Safe’ program strategy.”
Lately, she’s been piloting new technologies from SolutionSource® partners. TripBAM, a hotel rate shopping service, generated a 3:1 return on AstraZeneca’s investment in the pilot. Her team has also been exploring Fairfly, which looks for airfare savings in the window between booking and time of departure. Henshaw-Cox’s test-case strategy is a nod to the reality that startups are driving many of today’s business travel trends. She wants the tools her travelers use to keep getting smarter, more intuitive and more personally relevant.
Her program’s traveler engagement and trip-simplification strategies are working. Traveler compliance to policy is up 15% this year. Traveler satisfaction has increased, too: 86% of AstraZeneca travelers say they are satisfied with the program, and 91% feel safe and cared for when they travel.
“Our travelers want us to know who they are and how to simplify their worlds, and that’s different from one traveler to another,” Henshaw-Cox said. “Personalization is the key to what’s coming in travel program improvements.” It’s the next “What’s next?”
70 countries in 7 months
AstraZeneca and BCD Travel rolled out a global corporate travel program implementation in record time with strong results. Here are some of the highlights:
- AstraZeneca saved 15% on managed travel spend in the first year of operating a globally consolidated travel program.
- Consolidated data now covers 95% of the company’s managed travel spend, and AstraZeneca has 100% visibility into trips booked through BCD.
- 86% of travelers say they are satisfied with the corporate travel program, and 91% feel safe and cared for when they travel.
Headquarters: Cambridge, England
Employees: 61,100 worldwide
Annual revenue: US$22.5 billion
Sales by geography: 31% U.S.; 30% emerging markets; 24% Europe; 15% rest of world
Future-forward plan: Deliver 10 new medicines to patients by 2020; improve lives of 200 million patients by 2025; reach $50 billion in sales by 2025
Discover how BCD Travel can help you transform your travel program and gain data insights that drive savings and traveler satisfaction.