Egencia® customer spotlight: Richard Eades, Talent & Digital Procurement (Global Travel, Meetings & Events)
Some of the best perspectives on Egencia's suite of product offerings and application to business travel come from those who use it or instruct others to utilize it frequently. In this interview series, we profile Egencia customers, and ask their thoughts on what our product team should keep in mind while solving for them, and where the future of the industry lies.
Here’s a preview of a member of our Travel Manager advisory board, Richard Eades, answers our questions about travel solutions and corporate travel management (CTM) and his own experience working with a travel management company (TMC) like Egencia by American Express Global Business Travel to support bp’s travel program:
- How did you first come to work with Egencia’s products?
- What inspired you to get into this business, and what have been some of the most interesting parts of being in this industry?
- What's the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?
- As a member of Egencia's Connect Advisory Board, what do you think is the most important thing for Egencia's product team to keep in mind when solving for customers today?
- What's the most helpful feature of Egencia’s product for your team currently?
- What's one prediction you have about the future of business travel?
How did you first come to work with Egencia’s products?
We go back a couple of years now. It would be probably during the 2019 / 2018 and we were looking at what we were currently doing strategically and internally. Our aspiration was to shift digitally into an agile environment that aligned with our organization shift.
We could foresee that there was a need to adopt and adapt into a new world from a content point of view. We went out for RFP (request for proposal) and it was a long exercise when we're such a big global organization. And you guys were successful, won the contract and we implemented you at the end of 2019 and the rest is history, really!
What inspired you to get into this business, and what have been some of the most interesting parts of being in this industry?
I’m giving my age away right here! But it’s over 35 years ago, I stepped into business travel and hospitality. I did hotel management at university, and then just worked through various areas. I owned a restaurant for five years, moved around into some personal businesses and then stepped into the agency market myself.
I worked at two or three agencies at board level. I was a Managing Director of a travel management company, and then I set up my own consultancy for about five years. That’s how - working through various venture capitalist groups and corporate organizations, I bought into BP for a project about 11 to 12 years ago. After several months restructuring, I had the opportunity of joining BP in the global teams. And I haven't looked back since.
What's the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?
Wow yeah ,where do I start? I mean we implemented you guys from 2019, and in Q1, 2020 the pandemic hit. So, we very quickly formed that partnership and we were really focused on priorities, rather than trying to boil the ocean together and utilize what resource we've got.
So, at the moment, BP don't compromise on safety, so that's number one, it’s up there. But sustainability has definitely risen to a level that we’re really focusing on at an investment, rather than cost position, and looking right across the chain of travel at all the sustainability touch points and collaboration with supply base.
Then we’re looking at our circular economy. I’m involved with our Air BP division in our sustainable airfield partnerships with the airlines, and I’m involved with BP Pulse - the electric vehicle charging points, putting them into hotel car parks. So, I think it's such an exciting time at the moment with opportunities to really define our focus on partnerships - whether we’re at the customer, or whether we're actually the supplier in some of these relationships. It’s fascinating and really cements the partnership.
As a member of Egencia's Connect Advisory Board, what do you think is the most important thing for Egencia's product team to keep in mind when solving for customers today?
Again, I think obviously one of the reasons we selected Egencia was the technology. I think that kind of area is one to focus on because I think competition and technology evolves. So, you can't be complacent you can't just sit still. The fact I'm sitting on your advisory boards gives me that insight into your product and development team. I can see the pipeline, and I think your technology is keeping you way ahead of the game.
Obviously, there’s the position with American Express GBT coming into it and we’re all excited that there's going to be additional content and opportunity within that environment. So, I think the Egencia, Amex GBT position is something that we’re all anticipating is really going to take you guys to another level.
What's the most helpful feature of Egencia’s product for your team currently?
I wouldn't say there's one standout feature, I just think it's the logic. It’s, do we make it simple to do business? And, our travelers have got so much on their plate, other things on their mind, and we're all in still in a pandemic, so there's a nervousness about flying. So, I think it’s being a consultative informative position, where anything they want to know is there at their fingertips. That transparency of bringing in a dynamic environment because the budgets are tight for everybody, and you’ve just got to keep an eye on things. But I think it's the content, it’s rich content, it's live it's available, and I think that's what they're really appreciating. And it's a familiar geographical move around the technology so everything logically just flows for them. In a nutshell it's just the whole offering and it’s no single attribute.
What's one prediction you have about the future of business travel?
I think the big thing for us all is that we've been through a tough time. I think those that hold the purse strings are going to be looking at where the investments go. It's so important we collaborate together, not just on the obvious areas like sustainability, etc. we've actually got to look at this whole industry and attract the right people back into it. We've lost some great people over the last couple of years, so it's the attraction and the retention of staff. This industry is about people, it's about people making things happen. But it's also an emotional industry to be in, so I think it's so important we help each other and you look at that succession, looking at sharing knowledge, sharing information that's appropriate to really develop people and attract them into the industry. I think that's the big thing at the moment.
Egencia’s travel management solutions support international travel for companies of all sizes through an online booking tool and an intuitive mobile app for travelers with content supported by Amex GBT. Learn more about functionality that can control travel spend, simplify account management, and efficiently monitor travel policies through a highly configurable platform and request a live demo that will demonstrate how you can easily manage your travel bookings.