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A new travel purchasing alliance of seven major German companies,
including Infineon and Carl Zeiss, next week plans to meet with several car
rental suppliers, the first category in which it has gone out to tender as a
single grouping. The alliance, as yet unnamed, also is considering consolidated
corporate card, travel management company and online booking tool providers,
said Joerg Gerhardt, Infineon director of human resources transaction systems
for mobility service management. Gerhardt is one of the two lead buyers for the
alliance, along with Carl Zeiss travel manager Andreas Konkel.
Travel purchasing consortia over the years have enjoyed only limited
success, but Gerhardt said the German alliance is taking a different approach.
All seven partners are of similar size and have similar standards of policy
control and transparency in traveler behavior. More importantly, the alliance
is not relying on combined spending volume to achieve lower prices.
"Our increased volume gives us a better price, but that's not all,"
said Gerhardt. "We have spent time working with suppliers, asking them to
design their dream customer for issues like process, payment, booking structure
and strategy, because if we can deliver the most efficient processes to them,
then the savings can go to the customer. We have had the first offers from the
car rental companies, and it is not the volume which has helped the price but
these new approaches." Gerhardt added that process improvements being
considered in the car rental request for proposals include invoicing mechanisms
and vehicle delivery.
Although suppliers, especially airlines, loudly proclaim the virtues of
their own alliances, they often have been quick to denounce buyer consortia as
unworkable because of inconsistent policies and service requirements among members.
Gerhardt responded by pointing out that several customers on the same contract could
smooth out peaks in demand across the week for a car rental company, for
example. Furthermore, the new alliance is contemplating harmonizing some
aspects of travel policy, such as mandatory use of a unified card, TMC and
booking tool. He also argued that card companies, for example, could be
attracted by the opportunity to participate in just one RFP for the alliance
instead of one with each of the seven members.
Gerhardt said he is not confident the alliance will achieve any air
deals, but added that "they didn't close the door when we spoke to them."
The alliance is not yet willing to name any members other than Infineon
and Carl Zeiss, but Gerhardt said the seven are from different industry
sectors, thus avoiding any potential cartel infringements.