AirPlus is a guest in Delft, where Travel Manager Brenda Rila welcomes us warmly in a sun-drenched office of Allseas, one of the major players in the offshore industry. Brenda proudly talks about the company where she has been working since 2007. An interesting hour later, we have gained an excellent insigh tinto Allseas and its cooperation with AirPlus.
Can you describe what Allseas does into more detail?
Allseas is specialised in offshore pipeline installation, heavy lift and subsea construction worldwide. Our vessels have been designed and developed in-house. Our vessel Pioneering Spirit is the world's largest working ship, built to install and remove large oil and gas platforms in a single piece and install oil and gas pipelines all over the world. Our clients are major oil and gas producing companies worldwide. Allseasʼ head office is located in Switzerland and the engineering and project office in Delft, the Netherlands. We also have offices in Belgium, Australia, Brazil and the USA.
What are your responsibilities within the company?
As Travel Manager I am responsible for the day to day affairs in the travel department, which consists of ten employees. Together, we handle the travel arrangements of Allseas employees from all over the world. Allseas has an official IATA number and is in fact its own travel agency. Only some travel arrangements for the crew members of four ships are currently handled by a travel agent. As of November onward, we will be solely responsible for all business travel. We are also working hard to expand the department.
How important are business trips for Allseas?
Allseas currently employs more than 2,500 people and the number is growing fast. In Delft, we have around 800 office employees. However, a large number of Allseas personnel work as crew on the ships. This is a very international crowd, including many Spaniards, Malaysians and Filipinos. They work for five weeks on a ship, and then they have five weeks off. All these crew members must travel to and from the ships, just like some office workers. Our travel department is therefore essential to the company.
What is the travel budget and what is it spent on?
As much as 30,000 tickets are booked on an annual basis. This amount is mainly spent on flight tickets. Hotel accommodation is only needed occasionally, as people sleep on board the ships. Since the industry is very dependent on the weather, we often have to deal with tickets that have to be cancelled or rebooked at the last minute. This not only incurs extra work, but often also extra costs. Fortunately, there are special rates for our branch, the so-called sailors’ rates. These cater to our specific needs, are somewhat lower in price, are more flexible in terms of changes, have a double baggage allowance, and are easy to apply to one-way journeys.
How do you settle your business trips?
All flight tickets are booked with the AirPlus Company Account. Regarding hotel accommodation, the payment can be handled differently. Sometimes after arrival, crew can only be taken to the ship by helicopter the next day, so they have to stay in a hotel overnight. This is usually booked by our office in Essen, where the crew change is taken care of, and paid with credit card or cash. We are now investigating whether we may, in the future, use the new AirPlus Mobile A.I.D.A. app, so the crew can pay on site via the app using a virtual Master Card number on a smartphone. This payment will be centrally billed via the AirPlus Company Account. That way, we have little to worry about and the expenditure is processed centrally.
When did the cooperation with AirPlus start?
An IATA number was requested for Allseas in 2007 when the decision was made to issue tickets ourselves. We needed a payment solution and AirPlus approached us at the right time. To be able to do everything ourselves, the administration must be extremely well organised. In addition to a payment solution, a proper billing process and management information was therefore also required. AirPlus met all these needs. AirPlus Information Manager in particular, which includes fully automated customized monthly reports, helped us immensely.
Which AirPlus services or products does Allseas make use of?
Allseas uses multiple Company Accounts, which form the basis of the AirPlus service. For example, every ship and office has its own Company Account, so the expenses can be made obvious and clear. All flight tickets are charged to these cards. In addition, we use AirPlus A.I.D.A. Virtual Cards for costs that can’t be settled with the Company Account, for example certain hotel bookings. One of the benefits of these virtual cards is that they can be used a maximum of three times, reducing fraud risk. As mentioned before, we also use AirPlus Information Manager intensively, for reports and other analysis. The AirPlus statements, downloadable from the system in PDF format or as .csv-files, are also extremely useful.
Are you happy with the cooperation with AirPlus?
Very happy. We are regularly called by AirPlus competitors, however we never respond to these as we are happy with the current collaboration. Contact with AirPlus is also very personal, we talk to the same people who understand our company and our needs. They are very quick to respond toour questions. To date, they were able to provide everythingI have asked for without any hassle.