Fresh eyes are often vital to looking at the way we do things, particularly in the world of corporate travel management. New ideas and innovative ways of working often work their way into new industries with fresh blood. We had the opportunity to sit down with FairFly’s EVP of Global Sales, Richard Woolf and discover his experiences navigating the business travel world.

Richard has had significant experience in growing sales and customer success on a global scale. Richard was Senior Vice President of Sales at WalkMe and has managed the sales at FraudSciences (acquired by PayPal, NASDAQ:PYPL) and Panaya (acquired by Infosys, NSE:INFY).

[FF] From conversations your team has had with Travel Managers what seems to be the biggest challenges before COVID-19 hit?

[RW] Two of the biggest challenges faced by travel managers are having visibility into and validating their respective travel programs. Travel Managers are frequently talking about lack of independent oversight into their suppliers to have the ‘wide-angle lens’ that can perform ongoing validation of policy decisions and supplier performance.

Savings is always one of the big things that come up, but more importantly, the “amount” of savings generated and not over-promising and under-delivering. In terms of having the ability to track, control and monitor all aspects from Lowest Logical Fares, whether the Airlines are indeed giving them the best deals and what was negotiated versus what was promised contractually.

Another common challenge and big talking point is the need to have one centralised platform, which is easy to manage and easy to access at any given time. On most calls we have both travel managers and indirect procurement seek to have one source of truth where independent suppliers plug-in to augment the data and insights they have.

In other words, being more self-reliant and having all their data at their fingertips is top of their agenda.

Depending on the “type” of travel program and if traveler-centric, traveller well-being and wellness was very much a priority. All of this without traveler disruption.

[FF] How has this changed now that COVID-19 has impacted travel?

[RW] Since COVID-19 hit the industry, the travel manager focus has moved onto other areas. Travel Managers are trying to understand how their programs are affected in terms of monitoring, tracking and controlling unused tickets and refunds. In many, many cases they do not have the infrastructure to manage this and be less dependent on TMCs and Airlines, who in a lot of cases are able to supply a partial picture with raw data only.

Being able to monitor this area has become a real issue for some. It’s becoming more of a concern as road-warriors begin their traveling schedules but we’re seeing concern grow regarding the cost of flights increasing as airlines implement price hikes to recoup losses sustained over the COVID period.

[FF] What areas of visibility into their travel program do they seek when they talk to FairFly?

[RW] Tracking, controlling and monitoring the Travel Program in one easy to platform is something that is very appealing. From Class Policy, Lowest Logical Fares, Negotiated Fares, Negotiated Fare availability, Traveler Wellbeing. All of these aspects are important and very appealing when managed in one single platform.

I think that a lot of travel managers engage with FairFly for three reasons; we’re completely independent and will provide the unobstructed truth about performance, we have very good and in-depth relationships with their TMC meaning FairFly is effectively plug-and-play, and our insights are unique due to the type of data we glean and analyse from their travel program that other suppliers can’t.

[FF] When we open discussions with a travel manager we are often showing them things that they ‘don’t know they didn’t have visibility into’ – what is the biggest “WOW, I didn’t even know that was possible?”

[RW] It is not that they are NOT aware, it is HOW the info is given to them. In certain cases, some of the travel managers do not even know what they can and what they cant get from the TMCs in terms of reporting. For example, some suggest they can get the info from the TMC and they simply can’t, the TMC doesn’t hold that data. On the flip side, some did not know that the much of the basic data is freely available from the TMC but just hadn’t explored it.

The amount of savings FairFly generates is a big WOW, but that aside, what they ALL agree on, the FairFly platform is a major ‘WOW’ factor as it is easy to use, little work on their side to implement and all the info they need is in one location and at their fingertips.

Live reporting is key, no travel manager should ever have to wait weeks for raw data and have to do manual spreadsheet work to figure out what they need.

[FF] Tell me about the AHA! moment – during the POC, perhaps?

[RW] As FairFly offers all potential clients a proof of concept using their own data. The major ‘AHA’ moments are 3 fold:

The savings achieved as no company today can achieve what FF achieves in terms of Savings. When we talk about savings in excess of 4% which can equate to millions of dollars in cost avoidance – it’s often viewed as hyperbole. When we show travel managers the actual historic savings they’ve missed out on by not exploring price assurance with FairFly it’s difficult to avoid an ‘AHA’ moment.

All of their data is in one Platform and easy to access in real-time and seeing their data points in the platform opens their eyes to the FairFly deliverable and value.

Finally the potential of FairFly Wellness, the COVID-19 and the Unused Tickets modules. All of these together give them the value they are looking for.

[FF] What do Travel Managers want from a new supplier?

[RW] A major drawcard for FairFly is the ease of use. As the Platform is easy to use, this is a big thing for travel managers. Implementing new Software is typically time-consuming and stressful – think about the headaches when switching Online Booking Tool (OBT)?

As the FairFly requires little or no effort from the Travel Manager, it’s another huge benefit of working with FairFly. The setup is simple and we are flexible as a partner to work with, this becomes even more compelling.

A big takeaway is the flexibility that FairFly offers in terms of development and is not rigid and think out of the box offering maximum customer happiness. All of this is coupled with the best in breed product on the market today offering the best ROI.

[FF] What are the best practices FairFly does during implementation to make it as seamless and easy as possible?

[RW] In order to have happy customers, you need to assist and make the customer part of the process. As FairFly offers full visibility into the onboarding to go-live step by step, everything is clear and understood from day one.

We pride ourselves as a company on customer happiness and offer FULL support and training to assist the customer to gain the most out of the savings module, the Insights modules and Wellness Modules. To that end, we assign an Account Manager to assist and take care of our customer’s needs and provide full training and support on an ongoing basis.

The same holds true for the TMCs we work with. The level of support FairFly offers to the TMCs we partner with is a FULL onboarding program and giving the TMC as much training as they require. Nothing is better than a full 360-degree visibility for all parties.

[FF] What should companies do to ensure that clients are happy after Go-live? What does FairFly do?

[RW] In order to ensure a smooth go-live, customers should have full visibility into the process until go-live and full visibility into the training required. This also holds true for the TMC and FairFly ensures that as much training that is required is given.

Quarterly Business Reviews as held as a matter of course so that we can understand how the customer is performing and what needs to be improved. We have a firm belief… if you know what the problems are, you will know what needs to be done to solve them.

As we look at our customers as partners, feedback is huge with FairFly and we enjoy having our customers part of the process and ongoing improvement as we strive to always get better.