1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
The Business Travel Awards buyer of the year, Carol Neil, discusses traveller safety, green issues and the complexities of cost saving.
You are Business Travel AwardsTravel Buyer of the Year 2014 – what does the award mean to you?
It was a wonderful surprise to win – I didn’t expect it at all. It took a while to get over the shock, but I was extremely pleased and humbled that some of the best travel buyers in the industry recognised me as a worthy winner.
As a new member of the awardsjudging panel, what will you belooking for in the next travel buyerof the year?
I think an extremely important part of a travel buyer’s role is to be able to be highly adaptable, and face the challenges and difficulties presented in our ever-changing industry. I will be looking for someone who has not only met this challenge but also still managed to make a significant change and bring something special to both their organisation and the travel industry.
You and your team have transformedthe travel management function atNomura – what remains to be done?
Our focus has to stay on the traveller. There are still many things that we can do better to further enhance the travel services provided to Nomura travellers, especially as the industry increasingly develops mobile technology, and new and improved OBTs [online booking tools] become available. I think another big and innovative area for Nomura will be looking at how we can integrate social media into our offering, especially so that our travellers can more readily write reviews on our hotel programme, or be kept up to date via Twitter.
In your award entry last year, youplaced great emphasis oncommunication – is that still the case?
Most definitely. Good communication with your travellers, bookers and suppliers makes for a strong and well informed partnership, leaving no room for assumptions.
You also referenced traveller safetyand security. How do you help yourtravellers minimise risk?
At Nomura we have a very robust traveller safety and security structure in place, with both the TMC [travel management company] and Nomura global security. Being aware of the safety and security of our travellers is a normal part of our day-to-day operation, so that if there is a major incident, managing the issue will be standard practice for the team.
Are ‘green’ considerations importantto your travel programme?
Yes. We believe that delivering the best travel policy has to have a fully-rounded and balanced approach, and our corporate social responsibility ensures we include environmental factors in our decision-making processes.
You have already achieved bigtravel savings at Nomura – does therecome a point at which no more canbe achieved?
In many organisations travel spend is a major part of their overall costs so, as the travel manager, I don’t think I can ever stop looking for ways of saving money for the firm. However, the significant savings achieved last year was due to the many changes made in our policy, managing traveller behaviour and supplier negotiations, which enabled us to obtain these great savings. Looking ahead, as travel in Nomura remains steady, I will continue to effectively manage travel demand and, with the support of my TMC and suppliers, manage costs.
Looking at the travel managementsector in general, what do you see asthe most significant changes in thepast five years?
The past half-decade has seen ever stronger uptake of online booking, with all the challenges this has presented.
What do you see as the biggestchallenges for the sector in the future?
The biggest challenge will be to keep up with the demands of the end user. The generation entering the workforce has grown up online. The ‘comparethemarket.com’ generation is very net savvy. They will be expecting the travel programme of their employer to reflect their needs for connectivity and appropriate content. It is predicted that, within three years, 50 per cent of all online bookings will be made via a smartphone or tablet, so the challenge for the sector, and travel managers, will be to ensure that the right content is available, via the right channels, to the right audience.
What do you like most about your job?
I thrive on identifying opportunities for improvement, and delivering change. These projects enable me to learn new things, and it’s exciting to be meeting and working with different people all the time. I also like the challenges of the travel manager role, and being part of ITM [Institute of Travel & Meetings] has added a different, and even more interesting, dimension to my role.
Tell us more about your role as a boarddirector at ITM
I think ‘giving back’ to the industry is a major part of what we do, and I always feel really good when I have assisted one of my colleagues or peers. It makes all I’ve done and learnt over the years really worthwhile. Similarly, I learn something new every day, because travel is always changing. That’s why I attend the ITM forums and meet up regularly with my peers, so I can keep on top of what is happening in the industry. It makes me a better travel manager.
Where do you see your career pathheading?
I think my next step probably needs to be a global role at some stage. And I would really like to have an opportunity to be the chairman of ITM – that would be a real honour.
Nomura is a leading global financial services group and investment bank. Based in Tokyo and with regional headquarters in Hong Kong, London, and New York, it employs more than 27,000 staff worldwide and has an EMEA travel spend of US$40 million. Nomura comprises three business divisions: retail, asset management and wholesale (global markets and investment banking).