How Coca-Cola Consolidated modernized its business travel program

Posted: 16 December 2020
Modernising Travel Programs

As the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the US, Coca-Cola Consolidated makes, sells, and distributes Coca-Cola brand and partner beverages across 14 states and Washington DC. They have 92 branch locations in the US and four corporate offices near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Leaving a legacy TMC to find the right fit for modern business travel

Frequent domestic business travel is the standard for about 2,500 of Coca-Cola Consolidated’s 17,000 employees. After 11 years with a more traditional travel management company (TMC), the procurement team turned to Egencia for an updated and modern approach to increasing engagement and driving travel savings.

“Our team had lost trust in our previous TMC,” Mike Kirby, Senior Procurement Manager, said. “Several high-ranking individuals in the company asked to take the TMC out for RFP because they found that too many business travelers could usually find a better deal shopping on their own and avoided using our system. There was a lot of leakage and no trust with the previous travel program.”

Beyond improving travel program participation with more robust and reliable corporate travel search solutions, the team was looking for deeper insights into travel patterns for both savings and duty of care.

“We needed in-depth reporting,” Kirby said, which prompted the search for a new TMC. “And through the process with Egencia we learned how important reporting was to build an agile travel program. We also wanted the ability to administer our own systems and a simple, intuitive interface that could maintain cross-functionality across multiple systems — all benefits offered by Egencia.”

Leveraging Egencia’s Change Management solution to meet a tight timeline

The main challenge in meeting Coca-Cola Consolidated’s goals of an intuitive experience for the end-user, in-depth reporting, and moving information from a previous provider, was a tight timeline of just 12 weeks.

Given this short timeframe and the vast amounts of existing legacy information, the Egencia team suggested that Coca-Cola Consolidated utilize our Change Management team to ensure they could get the most out of their new travel management program. Beyond the standard implementation process, Egencia’s Change Management provides more personalized services such as onsite change workshops, working with early adopters, and formal project management.

Egencia Change & Project Manager, Nickole Hansen worked with Coca-Cola Consolidated to ensure their goals were met during implementation and also to educate them on ways to adapt their travel policy to better meet their current needs. This was an essential element of making the most of adopting new travel technology— making the entire program relevant to current and future needs.

“We came in with an aggressive timeline and, ultimately, a complicated project. Not only were we transitioning new travel management services, but Nickole helped us introduce a new travel policy — it was a lot of change at once,” Kirby explained. “She led bi-weekly meetings that gave us visibility to track project implementation — we knew what needed to be done and when and we stayed on track.”

Change Management acted as a guide to ensure the project kept moving forward, and, just as importantly, helped Coca-Cola Consolidated keep key stakeholders informed.

“The project team also made it easy to collect data we needed to reuse. They provided emails we could send to our previous supplier to make sure the data came through in the right form, which helped to speed things up,” shared Kirby. “We were provided email copy to announce the change, give insights into what would be happening, when to expect training, how it would be conducted, and more.”

Early wins with modernized travel management

“There were initial concerns about how much work this would actually take off everyone’s plate — leaving a provider we’d been with for a long time was a big decision — but once we discovered we could transition travel program administration from 14 people to just one, buy-in shortly followed,” Kirby said.

As the travel administrator at Coco-Cola Consolidated, Andrew Trismen received positive feedback from a group of early adopters before rolling out the program to everyone.

“Many director-level travelers said Egencia is easy to use — training was simple, and the technology does what they expect it to do,” he said.

“The Egencia team walked us through the policy settings before rollout,” Trismen said. “Over time we’ll develop more expertise in that area, but early on there are a lot of options and Change Management helped us understand how to build our policy into our travel program.”

“If you have a good travel policy in place, Egencia can make sure your business travel program enforces those policies,” he added. “And with robust reporting we’re able to see the impact of those policies.”

The Egencia team working with Coca-Cola Consolidated understood their needs deeply and had gained expertise working with organizations that had both similar travel cultures and potential challenges in the implementation process — such as a very short timeline. Kirby and Trismen recommend that other companies work with Egencia to determine if Change Management is the right solution for them when switching.

“Use the templates, personalize the details, communicate early and often, and the Change Management team will help you maximize your business travel program — even on a tight timeline,” Kirby said.

Read how digital transformation helps other organizations.

Click here to read the case study.

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with us.