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Tetra Laval has become one of the first companies in the world to develop
a mobile application for its own travelers. The Sweden-based multinational
liquid food processing and packaging group developed an iPhone app that includes
a searchable directory of 620 preferred hotels, car rental information,
preferred taxi operators, Tetra Laval office locations and emergency contact
numbers. It is the latest example of pioneering travel management at the group,
which also has a strong record of environmental accountability, including a
rating system for travel suppliers' sustainability credentials.
Tetra Laval fields about 12,000 to 15,000 regular travelers and globally
spends tens of millions of euros on air travel. Its new app essentially is a
digital version of a handbook published since 1992. About 10,000 copies had
been printed. Last year, to reduce both paper consumption and cost, the group's
travel management department recast the handbook as a foldable, credit
card-sized document. It included travel management company contacts, booking
codes for hotels, insurance information and emergency assistance details. The
travel team commissioned the leaflet's design to a former Tetra Laval employee,
who suggested that an app would be even more user- and environmentally
friendly. That former employee then was appointed to build the app in cooperation
with Tetra Laval's IT and marketing communications department.
When travelers log on to the app for the first time, they select the
country where they are based to prepopulate relevant information. For example,
an Italian employee will be given details of Tetra Laval's TMC in Italy.
This first version of the app for a variety of reasons deliberately was
made for offline use only. "It was key to us that once the app was
downloaded, all the information was there," said Ulrika Rosén, Tetra Laval's
supply manager for travel management. "We did not want a booking tool
because we use more than one TMC and we would have had employees booking
through the wrong cost center. We also wanted to stay offline to avoid Internet
roaming costs, which can be extreme in some countries." Tetra Laval has factories
in remote locations—the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, for example—and Rosén
did not want the app to rely on Internet access to function. Rosén also was
wary of mobile trip itinerary tools and other apps that allow employees—and
potentially people from outside the company—to see where colleagues are
Despite these concerns, Tetra Laval is contemplating limited online
functionality for the next release of the app. The travel management team is
consulting internal and external security advisers about providing
location-specific alerts, either by transmitting updates to travelers through
the app or giving them the ability to click on a city or country to see any current
Tetra Laval also is considering whether to give travelers the ability to
rate preferred hotels. "It would be a big help if they could click on the
app and give the rating then and there as they are departing," said Rosén.
"We don't always know what travelers want. It would be very helpful to
show the responses in discussions with suppliers."
Favoring 'Green' Travel
Rosén also is involved in an intensifying effort to improve the
sustainability of Tetra Laval's travel suppliers as part of a wider strategy to
place health, safety, quality and environmental considerations at the core of
the group's purchasing process.
A traffic-light system awards a red, yellow or green rating to every
vendor—from the smallest taxi company to the largest airline—based on its
environmental record. "It has become part of the decision-making process,"
she said. "If two suppliers offer the same service at the same price, but
one is green and one is red, we will go with the one which is green."
Rosén added that choices of this kind already have been made for the
group's hotel program. Tetra Laval sometimes selects suppliers with red ratings
for reasons of cost or location, although that does not let them off the hook. "We
warn them that in the first six months of the contract that we will expect them
to tell us what they are going to do about the environment," she said.
As another lever for improving vendor sustainability, Tetra Laval also
quizzes its TMCs about the sustainability credentials of their preferred
suppliers. "We look at the whole value chain," said Rosén. "If
we and our TMCs are all putting pressure on suppliers, they will notice. We don't
want to discard suppliers. We want to work with them to improve their
Demand management also plays a key role in minimizing environmental
impact and has become a crucial element of the travel team's strategy. Although
trip numbers have increased in recent years, so has the use of electronic
alternatives; Rosén believes there would have been more journeys had those
alternatives not been available.
With an overt strategy to change the way employees think about travel,
the first question posed when they plan a trip is whether they really need to go.
Other options are suggested, such as converting weekly day-trips to a single
location into fortnightly two-day trips.
The travel team communicates directly with employees and management
about demand management issues, not only about reducing trips but also about
buying smarter when travel is necessary. In particular, to take advantage of
lower fares, it is pushing hard for flights to be booked further ahead of
departure. Rosén and her colleagues have presented figures demonstrating
precisely how much can be saved and written articles on the subject for the employee
newsletter. The response has made clear that many employees simply were unaware
of how substantial the potential is for making savings. "People have asked
me if the figures are really true," she said.
Overcoming Challenges Of
Disparate Operating Units
Travel management still remains a challenging undertaking because Tetra
Laval is decentralized geographically and structurally. The group is comprised
of three main businesses: Tetra Pak, DeLaval and Sidel. Each has a different
culture and structure, which is one reason why there is no common, mandated
travel policy or a single global TMC. Instead, the three businesses confer in
each country under the guidance of the travel team to decide which TMC they
Decentralization also makes supplier relations more difficult, with some
hotels loading rates only for the business with which they are most familiar
rather than for the entire group. "They don’t recognize the Tetra Laval
name," said Rosén. "Suppliers tend to talk to whichever of our companies
has the largest volume in their country. Data capture is also a big challenge
However, Tetra Laval has started to address the problem by rolling out
AirPlus International's Company Account lodge solution. Although there was no
global mandate to use it, 28 countries have done so, representing 65 percent of
the group's total air spend. Rosén hopes to bring another three countries on
board, lifting spend coverage to 80 percent. "It has made a big difference
talking to airlines," she said.
To generate consolidated, consistent data across those 28 countries, Tetra
Laval also began measuring its air travel-related CO2 emissions through the
AirPlus Green Reports product. The various TMCs retained by the group worldwide
all used different methodologies to measure emissions, which previously made
reliable benchmarking extremely difficult.
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