VF is one of the world’s largest textile companies. The company has 70,000 employees globally, with a total of 7,000 people active in EMEA (Europe, Middle-East and Africa). To settle and evaluate the many trips done annually by our travelers VF Europe works closely with AirPlus. For Europe alone, the number of transactions annually amounts to 131,000.
Chris Foster started working at VF Europe some 27 yearsago. She is European Office Services Manager and responsible for Business Travel & Car Fleet Management.
What is VF Europe’s core business?
VF doesn’t always ring a bell, but the many brands we have inour portfolio speak for themselves. Vans®, Timberland®, TheNorth Face®, Wrangler®, Lee®, Kipling®, Eastpak®, Napapijri® and Williamson-Dickie® are the most important brands being distributed in Europe.
How important is business travel for your company?
Our employees travel quite a lot, not only to our own offices and showrooms, but also to our suppliers in countries around the globe. Moreover, they also visit our foreign marketson a regular basis. This has led to more than 17,700 flight transactions last year.
How have you organized your travel management?We work with one single travel agency for all our countries and we also have one common European travel policy.In the different countries local teams handle the day-to-day management.
VF Europe has an Expense Reporting Tool in place, how does this align with AirPlus?
We work with MobileXpense, an automated central system to monitor expense reports. The data AirPlus provides is being read into the MobileXpense system. Both the amounts of the lodge and walking cards are uploaded into the system. The expense reports of our travelers are uploaded automatically, and they include all the information and the exact amounts spent. The only thing they need to do, is confirm the amounts are in fact correct and send the originals to accounting.
How did your travel management evolve within the company the last 27 years?
I have been working with VF Europe for 27 years and I have seen tremendous changes during this time. The transition alone from management fee to transaction fee has caused great changes within the way we work. While before we would pay the travel agency a fee for the full organization of our travel management, we now try to do as many things we can in-house to get a grip on our travel expenses. Moreover, due to travel expenses being checked more carefully these days. Furthermore, the increased use of online booking tools has a great impact, with all the challenges it brings. All these changes in the travel industry, the economic situation, but also within our own company, ensure there’s never a stand still in business travel management. And of course, our company has grown exponentially; we have added brands to our portfolio. Every new brand brought new suppliers and procedures to the table. Thanks to the implementation of the AirPlus Company Account and the corporate cards, we obtained relevant data, making it unnecessary to change their procedures and suppliers in order to obtain consolidated data.
How long have you been working with AirPlus and what has been your experience so far?
We started working with AirPlus in 2007, at first in only a few countries but today we work in 17 countries. And I have to say, the collaboration with AirPlus is excellent. By saying this, I’m not only referring to daily contact we have with AirPlus, regarding for example the provision of new Company Accounts or credit cards. What really makes AirPlus standout is the fact that they are willing to find solutions to technical problems that are not necessarily related to their own product or service. For everything to work properly, we depend on three partners: the payment provider, the travel agent and the supplier of the automated expense system. AirPlus’ technical know-how and their customer focus probably make it easy to solve any problem.
What do you think are the advantages of settling your travel payments via the AirPlus Company Account?
There are many. The entire process runs smoothly because we only have one single point of contact (SPOC) for all our countries. One example: our employees pay their expenses during their travel via the walking cards or corporate cards. These cards are being managed by AirPlus. By contacting AirPlus, we are in contact with our walking card provider in every country. Another great advantage is the consolidated data reporting AirPlus provides thanks to the AirPlus Information Manager. This online reporting tool enables us to receive a very detailed overview of all travel related expenses – both centrally via the AirPlus Company Account as individually via the credit cards – per country and entity.
Do you make use of the AirPlus Portal?
We use the AirPlus Business Travel Portal on a regular basis, as it gives access to the AirPlus Information Manager, where we can see our volumes and other details, relevant for negotiating with suppliers. Our accounting department uses it frequently as well to verify invoices and data.
Have you been able to cut costs thanksto these services?
Accurate consolidation of data is the most powerful toolyou can possess when negotiating with suppliers. We can of course obtain data from different sources, like travel agents and from the expense reports. But the data we obtain from the cards and the Company Account is the most complete and detailed information one can have, to see what really has been paid for, empowering us to make the right decisions.
What is the biggest plus to the systems of AirPlus?
The tools are extremely user friendly. You needn’t be a computer expert or financial genius to get from the system what you need. I would definitely recommend AirPlus to other companies!