Egencia® customer spotlight: Richard Eades, Talent & Digital Procurement (Global Travel, Meetings & Events)
Some of the best perspectives on Egencia's suite of product offerings and application to business travel come from those who use it or instruct others to utilise it frequently. In this interview series, we profile Egencia customers from around the world and ask their thoughts on what our Product Team should keep in mind while problem-solving for them and where the future of the industry lies.
Here’s a preview of one of the members of our Travel Manager Advisory Board, Richard Eades, answering our questions about travel solutions and corporate travel management (CTM) as well as his own experience working with a travel management company (TMC) like Egencia by American Express Global Business Travel to support bp’s travel programme:
- How did you first come to work with Egencia’s products?
- What inspired you to get into this business, and what have been some of the most interesting parts of being in this industry?
- What's the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?
- As a member of Egencia's Connect Advisory Board, what do you think is the most important thing for Egencia's Product Team to keep in mind when problem-solving for customers today?
- What's currently the most helpful feature of Egencia’s product for your team?
- Can you give us one prediction you have about the future of business travel?
How did you first come to work with Egencia’s products?
We go back a couple of years now. It would probably be during 2018/2019, and we were looking at what we were doing strategically and internally at that time. Our aspiration was to carry out a digital transformation into an agile environment that aligned with our organisational shift.
We could foresee that there was a need to adopt and adapt to a new world from a content point of view. We launched an RFP (request for proposal), and it was a long exercise due to the fact that we're such a big global organisation. And you guys were successful, won the contract and we implemented with you at the end of 2019. The rest is history really!
What inspired you to get into this business, and what have been some of the most interesting aspects of being in this industry?
I’m giving my age away here! But it’s over 35 years ago that I stepped into business travel and hospitality. I did Hotel Management at university and then just worked through various areas. I owned a restaurant for five years, moved around in some personal businesses and then stepped into the agency market myself.
I worked at two or three agencies at board level. I was a Managing Director of a travel management company, and then I set up my own consultancy for about five years. That’s how, working through various venture capitalist groups and corporate organisations, I came to work with BP on a project around 11 to 12 years ago. After several months of restructuring, I had the opportunity to join BP in the global teams. And I haven't looked back since.
What's the biggest challenge that your team is facing right now?
Wow, yes, where do I start? I mean, we implemented with you guys back in 2019, and in Q1 of 2020, the pandemic hit. So, we very quickly formed that partnership, and we were really focused on priorities; rather than trying to boil the ocean together, we utilise the resources we have.
So, at the moment, BP doesn't compromise on safety. So, that's number one; it’s up there. But sustainability has definitely risen to a level that we’re really focusing on by taking an investment rather than a cost position, and looking right across the chain of travel at all the sustainability touch points and collaborations with our supply base.
We’re also looking at our circular economy. I’m involved with our Air BP division in terms of our sustainable airfield partnerships with the airlines, and I’m involved with BP Pulse—electric vehicle charging points—and putting these into hotel car parks. So, I think it's such an exciting time at the moment with opportunities to really define our focus on partnerships—whether we’re the customer or whether we're actually the supplier in some of these relationships. It’s fascinating and really cements the partnership.
As a member of Egencia's Connect Advisory Board (CAB), what do you think is the most important thing for Egencia's Product Team to keep in mind when problem-solving for customers today?
Again, I think one of the reasons we selected Egencia was obviously technology. I think that kind of area is one to focus on, because I think competition and technology evolve. So, you can't be complacent; you can't just sit still. The fact I'm sitting on your advisory boards gives me that insight into your Product and Development Team. I can see the pipeline, and I think your technology is keeping you way ahead of the game.
Obviously, there’s the position of American Express GBT having come onboard, and we’re all excited that there's going to be additional content and opportunity within that environment. So, I think the Egencia/Amex GBT position is something that we’re all anticipating is really going to take you guys to another level.
What's currently the most helpful feature of Egencia’s product for your team?
I wouldn't say there's one standout feature; I just think it's the logic. The logic is: do we make it simple to do business? And our travellers have got so much on their plate and other things on their mind. We're all in still in a pandemic, so people are nervous about flying. So, I think it’s about taking a consultative informative position, where anything they want to know is right there at their fingertips. The transparency of creating a dynamic environment is important, because budgets are tight for everybody, and you’ve just got to keep an eye on things. But I think it's the content that's really decisive: it’s rich content, it's live, it's available, and I think that's what they really appreciate. And the technology involves a familiar geographical move, so everything just flows logically for them. In a nutshell, it's the whole offering rather than a single attribute.
Can you give us one prediction that you have about the future of business travel?
I think the big thing for us all is that we've been through a tough time. I think those who hold the purse strings are going to be looking at where investments go. It's so important that we collaborate, and not just on the obvious areas like sustainability, etc. We've actually got to look at this whole industry and attract the right people back into it. We've lost some great people over the last couple of years, so we need to attract and retain staff. This industry is about people; it's about people making things happen. But it's also an emotional industry to be in, so I think it's so important that we help each other and look at that succession, look at sharing knowledge and information that's appropriate for really developing people and attracting them into the industry. I think that's the big thing at the moment.
Egencia’s travel management solutions support international travel for companies of all sizes through an online booking tool and an intuitive mobile app for travellers with content supported by Amex GBT. Learn more about functionality that can control travel spend, simplify account management and efficiently monitor travel policies through a highly configurable platform and request a live demo that will demonstrate how you can easily manage your travel bookings.