Can you give us a brief description of the company you work for?
Atradius is one of the world’s largest credit insurers. Our credit insurance, bonding and collections products help protect companies throughout the world from payment risks associated with selling products and services on trade credit. We have more than 90 years of experience in the credit insurance business and can provide our customers with access to credit information on 200 million companies worldwide. We were originally founded as NCM in the Netherlands in 1925. Through the years we have grown to be a truly international organisation with a presence through 160 offices in 50 countries. The head office of Atradius is located in Amsterdam.
Who is responsible for Business Travel within Atradius?
“Though not officially the Business Travel officer, I do feel responsible”, says Arno Beekhuizen, Purchaser Facilities at Atradius’ headquarters. Beekhuizen has been with Atradius for 17 years and has been dealing with held responsibility for Atradius travel for 13 years. Beekhuizen: “Approximately 20 percent of my job encumbers business travel related affairs. Mostly supporting my colleagues with advice when they are making travel arrangements, checking what people choose and book, for example which airlines people choose, what the reason for traveling is, why certain tickets are booked offline and such. Furthermore, I have a lot to do with HR topics, consisting mainly of duty of care matters.”
How important is business travel within your company, how many people travel within the company, what is the annual budget for travel?
“Business travel is very important for a company like Atradius, as we potentially have 3,600 frequent travelers worldwide and approximately 5,000 tickets are booked on a yearly basis. Travel is important to Atradius because we find it essential to meet customers and co-workers face to face. Plus, with the headquarters based in Amsterdam, travel to and from Amsterdam is substantial”. But Beekhuizen also mentions that with the improvement of the economy business has improved and more people travel.
Are you responsible for the company’s travel policies? How would you describe your current travel policy?
“No, each department is responsible for staying in line with the travel policy and staying on budget. In 2009, due to the economic crisis, business travel budgets were cut in half. Therefore, each trip being applied for is thoroughly checked. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, many international routine meetings can be done just as well by conference calls or other kinds of virtual meetings. But as said, personal contact is important as well, so international travel is and probably will stay important as well. Our policy for this is quite liberal; all flights shorter than six hours do not allow for business class tickets, train tickets should be booked in 2nd class, unless the trip takes over three hours, and we urge our travelers to book in Atradius preferred hotels, however this is not compulsory. We do not oblige our travelers, hence our travel policy is better considered a corporate guideline for travel”. Beekhuizen explains that each department has a department director and a department budget. The department director determines if travel is required or not. “We once had an implant and even a ticket printer with it, that’s all gone. Almost everything (some 80 percent) is done online, mainly easy flights to Rome, Paris and Cardiff. We have many complex projects, for which the business travel details can be quite challenging as well. In these cases travel plans tend to change a lot and the duration of the trips is often unknown beforehand.’
What made you decide to work with AirPlus?
“AirPlus is the global payment provider for Atradius, making it easy to consolidate and streamline all data for Atradius on aglobal scale. In all countries worldwide we work with different travel agents as each market felt the need to choose the best suitable agent in their own markets. AirPlus however, was the perfect fit in all markets. We used to work with a competitor, but their tool was not as simple and efficient and they did not have a solid virtual payment solution”. When asked to do an ‘elevator pitch’ about the collaboration with AirPlus and the payment solutions AirPlus provides, Beekhuizen says: “Very simple, thanks to AirPlus’ consolidated data, I can help my internal customer. The data makes it easy to compare the travel behavior as well as costs per department, not only for one period of time but for several years. We receive the statement once a month, which I then download and check and simply forward to the finance department. The statement in .csv format is then checked by the finance department and costs are distributed among the appropriate cost centers. All is easy, clear and efficient. Furthermore, the service provided by AirPlus is outstanding”.
Which AirPlus products do you use and how do they help with the execution of your job tasks?
“We have an AirPlus Company Account and make use of the AirPlus A.I.D.A. Virtual Cards as well as the AirPlus Information Manager. We use the Company Account for most travel spend, the virtual credit card is used for those travelers that do not have or want a corporate credit card, as this card is linked to the personal account of the employee. At Atradius I and two other people are responsible for processing the virtual payments. Using the virtual credit card, you pay with a MasterCard number, the data and volume goes into the Information Manager and payments are settled with the Company Account”.
Beekhuizen explains that Atradius also uses the AirPlus virtual payment solution for non-travel related procurement purposes as it is a simple and secure way of payment. A while ago Beekhuizen used the AirPlus mobile application to create a virtual payment when he could not do so from his desktop and mentions the app is downloaded and always available on his smartphone. Giving it to his travelers is one bridge too far; he would rather keep access in the procurement department as payments are coordinated and executed centrally from here. With regards to the Information Manager, Beekhuizen says he uses it only twice a month himself, his controlling and HR colleagues however use it more frequently to create their periodic reports.
Anything else you would like to share?
“We are very satisfied with the level of service AirPlus provides,not only in the Netherlands, but like I mentioned earlier, on a global level. AirPlus has been able to provide a consistent level of service and its products suit the needs of Atradius”.