Kellogg’s end-to-end strategy elevates travel program

Onsite agents support booking-to-expense cycle, yielding savings and happier travelers.

Kellogg Company’s end-to-end success began with a challenge. In early 2016, the U.S. food giant introduced a zero-based budgeting (ZBB) plan designed to build sustainable, ongoing cost management. For Cecile Mutch, Kellogg travel program leader and senior director of corporate services, that meant finding a way to significantly reduce spend. She and her travel management company team started with some obvious savings opportunities, like pre-trip approvals. Then they got creative.

Travel program reinvention boosts traveler satisfaction

Cecile Mutch, Kellogg travel program leader and senior director, corporate service

Mutch and the BCD Travel team launched what would become a reinvention of Kellogg’s North American travel program. They expanded onsite travel agent services to support Concur’s travel and expense platform; purchasing cards (PCard) and corporate cards; value-added tax calculations; fraud monitoring; meetings management; jet charters; and more.

The end-to-end support desk, branded KTravel, offers a technology-enhanced, integrated experience for Kellogg’s on-the-road employees. Travelers receive consistent, knowledgeable support from the same agents throughout the trip cycle—from pre-booking to final T&E reimbursement. Agents are able to explain travel policy rules and rationale, and also explain what will happen if the policy isn’t followed. Travelers get advice on the front end about what they won’t be reimbursed for on the back end.

“Our travelers now have more visibility into policy and the whole trip and expense process, so they’re more engaged and less frustrated by expense issues,” Mutch said.

Travelers also are more compliant. After Kellogg implemented the end-to-end strategy, advance air bookings rose; the number of hotel bookings made in program jumped; and online bookings increased.

Kellogg saves more and offers better service to travelers. A survey conducted in 2017 proves that point: Employees using KTravel said they were 99% satisfied with their trip experience.

Kellogg Company at a glance

  • Headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
  • Produces 1,600 foods in 21 countries and markets goods in over 180 countries
  • World’s leading cereal company
  • US$13 billion in 2016 sales
  • Founded in 1906
  • Well-known brands include Keebler, Rice Krispies and Eggo

End-to-end strategy contributes to significant savings

The company benefits, too. The continuous service loop that Kellogg created with its onsite agent team enables real-time monitoring and swift, data-driven adjustments that boost savings and responsiveness to travelers’ needs. The end-to-end model enables Kellogg to:

  • Compare booked vs. actual travel spend
  • Use pre-trip approvals where it makes sense
  • Report non-compliance to business unit leaders
  • Identify rogue hotel bookings and bring those travelers back into the program

Here are some of the bottom-line results from the first 12 months of KTravel implementation, compared to the year before:

  • 13% drop in net cost per trip mile
  • 68% increase in 21-day advance U.S. domestic air bookings
  • 30% increase in 21-day advance international air bookings
  • 26% jump in hotels booked in program
  • 11% reduction in average hotel room rate
  • 10% increase in online bookings

“To meet the challenge of ZBB and expand value across the company, we enabled our dedicated agency staff to do many things beyond basic travel and expense support,” Mutch said. “We are a small travel operation supported by our agency team, and I’m really proud of how, through a commitment to customer service, we’ve become even more valuable to our employees.”

Travel management becomes a cost-control model

The shift to an end-to-end operation also elevates the value of managed travel. Mutch’s colleagues regularly go to her for advice on how to control their departmental costs in smart, strategic ways. “Travel has become the model for ZBB success,” she said. “Our end-to-end approach meets many goals because it not only increases savings and travel policy compliance, but also employee satisfaction.”

Industry peers also are turning to Mutch for guidance. She and BCD Travel’s Wendy Prewitt, vice president of global business development, will talk about the evolution of KTravel at the upcoming Global Business Travel Association conference in Boston. Their microsession—starting 3:40 p.m., July 18, at Concur Booth No. 1337—will offer a blueprint for travel managers hoping to achieve end-to-end success.

So, what is Mutch’s high-level advice for travel managers seeking reinvention? “Think about how you’ll redefine yourself and the role of the travel manager before you’re forced to. Don’t limit your ideas to travel. Dig into the whole process,” she said.

“While global consolidation has been held up as business travel’s holy grail, I think the future is end-to-end agency management of travel and expense,” Mutch said. “What Kellogg is allowing KTravel to do is a concrete example of achieving results with non-traditional vision.”

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