Making all reservations online and having travellers book their own travel does not have to be difficult. Mira Ahjoniemi, Office Manager at LEO Pharma Oy, shares her experience.
LEO Pharma has succeeded in what many companies still struggle with. All LEO Pharma employees in Finland book their travel via SMT Online. The service is tailored to take into account LEO Pharma's travel policy and global contract rates.
“Making all reservations centrally via an online service where employees manage their travel themselves has saved us a great deal of time and money”, says Mira.
We have never forced anyone to use the service. The users just find it an easy way to make their reservations.”
LEO Pharma's global travel partner is American Express Global Business Travel, which is represented in Finland by SMT. “When Finland was added to the travel service agreement and we received access to SMT Online, I first tested it myself and then showed others how to make reservations”, Mira explains. “After a couple of months, they started asking when they could also use the service. It was just that convenient to use. Therefore, we opened the online service to everyone.”
Mira goes through the functionalities of the online service and reservation process with new employees once. Everyone has learnt to use the service in just one session and enjoyed making reservations.
SMT Online is tailored to match the company's travel policy. It will primarily display the lowest allowed rate types and, for hotels, also the SMT-recommended rates and LEO Pharma's own contract rates. “Especially when making a reservation in a foreign country, we first check our affiliates' local hotel agreements and SMT's recommended hotels”, Mira says. “The central online service brings our contract rates available to all of our travellers. This benefit would be lost by shopping around online.”
When reservations are made centrally, they are also easier to monitor. For LEO Pharma, especially the reservation time is important: travel must be booked at least two weeks in advance in order to get the best rate. “However, I recommend making reservations four weeks in advance, if possible”, Mira adds.
Her other tip relates to the price search of SMT Online. Unless you have a tight schedule, set the departure time of your flight to +/-4 hours. This way, you can view the available airlines and rates and see how changing your departure time can affect the price. “We buy the cheapest or changeable tickets depending on our needs. Usually, the price difference is minor, and so we can let travellers decide. If the schedule is likely to change, it is good to opt for the flex rate”, Mira explains.
LEO Pharma is so familiar with SMT Online that the employees even use it when planning leisure travel. “The service makes it easy to check the general price level and see which airlines operate a specific route”, Mira says. Then, you can make your reservation through a public website such as smt.fi without logging in.