How can you keep travel management in check if there are more than thirty units and several thousand travellers? Noora Fils from the City of Helsinki discusses her experiences in coordinating travel and the related communication.
As Service Manager of the Purchasing Centre of the City of Helsinki, Noora is in charge of comparing travel service suppliers and the management of contracts, for example. For business travel, she utilises an extensive collaboration network. At the core of the network is the Business Travel Group, which tracks, evaluates and develops the city’s business travel and the related aspects. It has an important role in linking the different parties together and managing the big picture.
– The Business Travel Group brings together representatives from the Purchasing Centre, which is responsible for the travel agency contract; the Central Administration, which establishes the business travel guidelines; Financial Administration, which is in charge of the travel management system and business travel accounts; and agencies whose personnel travel a lot, Noora explains. – As the representatives include people who are themselves travellers or travel arrangers, the group has practical experience in travelling and travel arrangement. This is very important.
In addition, most of the Business Travel Group’s meetings are attended by a contact person from SMT for discussing travellers’ feedback about SMT’s service, the general trends in business travel and other current topics.
How do you communicate with your travel arrangers?
The City of Helsinki’s travel is either booked by the travellers themselves or by travel arrangers. The electronic self-booking system makes the booking process, quick, easy and smooth. The self-booking system was introduced a few years ago and its usage rate is growing.
In addition to self-booking by travellers, there are many travel arrangers in the organisation. Therefore, communication is essential. The City of Helsinki makes all the travel-related instructions, guidelines and contact information available on the city’s intranet. In addition, the intranet includes a link to a travel portal which SMT has tailored for the city.
The various units have appointed business travel contacts, who facilitate communication with travellers and travel arrangers by transmitting information within their agencies.
– We arrange business travel briefings with SMT once or twice per year. The events discuss any changes that have taken place and remind the participants about the travel guidelines and where to find the information that they need. Often, we also invite our other travel contract partners to talk about relevant themes, Noora says.
SMT’s newsletters provide travellers with timely information about airline strikes and other travel-related topics.
The City of Helsinki is the largest Finnish employer, whose 33 agencies and public utilities employ approximately 40,000 professionals and experts in various fields. The city has some 2,000 different job titles. The Purchasing Centre is the city’s expert organisation in procurement and a joint procurement unit. It compares the suppliers in joint procurement by agencies, public utilities and group entities and assists the city in procurement.