5Q with Lockheed's Richard Wooten - Business Travel News

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5Q with Lockheed's Richard Wooten

September 12, 2007 - 01:24 PM EST

Richard Wooten

5Q with Lockheed's Richard Wooten

Alexandria, Va.

One year ago, defense contractor Lockheed Martin began using Sabre Holdings' Travelocity Business as its full-service travel management company. The implementation included 200 visits by TBiz personnel to Lockheed offices and focus groups encompassing 4,300 Lockheed employees, according to officials. In the past 12 months, the program has been deployed throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and continental Europe. In Asia-Pacific, "We initially started out with Travelocity and they picked up what we had with the old TQ3/Navigant, the individual subcontract management of the local agencies," said Lockheed Martin director of corporate travel services Richard Wooten. "We will be working toward consolidation in Asia-Pacific later this year and getting it all under Travelocity." Lockheed--which had already used the Sabre GetThere corporate booking tool--boosted online adoption in Canada from essentially zero to 85 percent; in the United Kingdom from 15 percent to 45 percent; and for U.S. point-of-sale trips to other countries, from 43 percent to 70 percent. By raising online adoption levels, Lockheed cut $5 million in travel agency fees, Wooten said. Travelocity Business president Lesley Harris said Lockheed realizes savings of "tens of thousands a month" thanks to TBiz automation that pushes any international multi-leg itineraries booked online to an international rate desk. Wooten last week discussed with Management.travelthese and other aspects of Lockheed's implementation of Travelocity Business. Excerpts follow.

You have previously mentioned that your travelers wanted their corporate booking experience to resemble their online vacation booking experience. Since GetThere has been focused on adjusting its user interface to cultivate a leisure-oriented look and feel, why not use the updated version of GetThere with a traditional travel management company rather than switching fully to Travelocity Business?

Brand recognition. It was really to capitalize on the marketing efforts that Travelocity has had. You get an edge with credibility. Prior to Travelocity, we were private-label marketing our GetThere system internally. There is nothing wrong with that, but there always is a suspicion in the minds of the travelers and travel arrangers: "Are you always showing me the best options out there and the best pricing?" It is always that credibility issue. The old "I can find it cheaper on the Internet" just kind of went away. I don't get that anymore. That really also helped us on international travel. To see that much adoption, it had to be something about the confidence they had in the system.

Last year you noted that Travelocity offered your travelers certain things that they were not getting through the existing booking system, including airline class-of-service upgrades and online ticket exchanges. What other functions are new for Lockheed travelers?

Those are the key components. Getting online ticket exchanges to work really takes that tight integration with the agency doing the fulfillment, in this case Travelocity. That is one of the areas where we are starting to see some traction and realize some savings. Also, we certainly promote usage of nonrefundable tickets and in today's environment, a traveler can look at their unused ticket value. They go into their profile and see (that) they have $500 or $600 on American Airlines. Then they go to book on American and it is automatically applied. Travelocity does the exchange and the next thing the traveler knows is they get their itinerary and the invoice, with that amount applied. They don't have to do a lot of thinking about it.

What types of mid-office automation has been developed?

One of the things that has always been a challenge is documenting per diems and putting them in the itinerary or the invoice, so when our auditors get it on the back end when someone submits their expense statements, they can capture what was allowable and what was unallowable. What we have done with Travelocity is work to get that documentation automated and also scripted for the agents to ensure that the information is in there on every itinerary. As a government contractor, it is extremely important that we capture and document what is allowable and what isn't. What is allowable is the government per diem that we are charging, and nothing more. The unallowable portion comes off our bottom line.

In addition to supporting Lockheed's compliance with the Fly America Act, what other areas of the travel program has TBiz enhanced?

We hire a lot of people over the year, and have major recruiting centers throughout the country. That has been a very manually intensive process involving the recruiter, the applicant, getting on the phone, making the travel plans, having them approved by the recruiter ... We have been working with the recruiting centers and Travelocity. It has been a challenge, but we convinced a couple of key players to pilot the automation to make it happen. There is a Web form that the recruiter uses to put in some real minimal information about the applicant. That actually generates a shell profile for the applicant, shoots over an email to the interviewee with a nice welcome letter and tells them to "click here" to book their travel. There is a subsite specifically set up for recruiting, so it's only displaying hotels that our recruiting centers have agreements with. If they don't want them to have a rental car, they can block that out. They can regulate the class of service. The applicant goes in and books their travel, they get their itinerary through email and get exposed to the system upfront, so we have already started the training process. The system then automatically takes them out so they cannot get back in or pass it around to their college buddies. It is working very well and quite a few bookings already have gone through. It seems like something we'll move out enterprise-wide for all our recruiting.

When it was announced last year, the deal with Travelocity Business was to include consulting and meetings. What has been accomplished in those areas?

On the consulting side, we have been using Travelocity on air management and doing some analysis on whether we can move market share in certain markets and automatically configure the booking tool to move that share. It may be to denote a certain airline on a certain citypair versus others, and it seems to be working out very well. On meetings, we have a different strategy. We have been using [GetThere] DirectMeetings over the years. About a year ago, we made the decision to use StarCite. We have completed the contract and right now we are going through the implementation phase. We're still running DirectMeetings until we make the cutover. One of the things we have really been focusing on is the sourcing side. We have been using external sourcing through HelmsBriscoe, which has been working out well for us. One of the things we have pushed hard for is to get event sourcing into a competitive mode, so instead of just going to one hotel and saying, "I want to have an event here, what is it going to cost me?" it's actually going out to get bids and putting that more into a procurement process. HelmsBriscoe has been the piece that has made that happen. We're not by any means at 100 percent. We continue to promote that program and we are getting traction. We are starting to see more meeting planners sign up and get good results.

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