THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE AND CREDIBILITY

The Electronic Arts (EA)
Global Travel Programme Case Study
TMC SOURCING

HOW ELECTRONIC ARTS (EA) APPOINTED FESTIVE ROAD TO SUPPORT WITH SELECTING A GLOBAL TRAVEL MANAGEMENT COMPANY (TMC), AND HOW THE PROJECT TEAM FLEXED TO ENSURE THE NEW LANDSCAPE CREATED BY COVID-19 WAS ACCOUNTED FOR AND EVEN PROVIDED ADDITIONAL BENEFITS…

The mission

EA is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment, developing and delivering games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, mobile devices, and personal computers. Headquartered in California with 10,000 employees worldwide, EA have 5,000 travellers across 23 markets in North America, the UK, Europe, and Asia.

They kicked off their TMC sourcing project at the beginning of 2020, just as COVID-19 started to grip the world.  They were looking for a global provider who could align to their company strategy and would listen and adapt to their programme needs.  Undeterred by the unfolding situation, they embarked upon the process to assess supplier capability in the marketplace using three pre-determined criteria: Culture, Capabilities and Commercials.  The full exercise and assessment models needed to be adapted to cater for a full, virtual assessment to the same standard as if in a pre-COVID environment.

NATALIE'S VIEW…

“Assessing and appointing the right TMC partner is one of the most critical exercises a travel buyer will do in their role. A structured but flexible methodology to support that selection process means that you can work through each element of the programme offering in detail to get to the right outcome, whilst at the same time ensuring all the necessary back-up to support your selection. It gives you the confidence to identify the right long-term partner who can bring the vision of your travel programme to life.”

Natalie Gardner
Senior Global Travel Manager - Electronic Arts

THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE AND CREDIBILITY

Partnering for the long term
Identifying the right cultural fit

The Issue: Appointing a TMC is a long-term investment which must work for both parties.  As a creative company with a global travel programme, EA had to ensure first and foremost that their new supplier would be the right cultural fit for their company.  Having an independent external view to guide them through the sourcing process was critical.

The Solution: Using FESTIVE ROAD’s unique ‘Cultural Fit’ activity, shortlisted TMCs had the opportunity to share their vision and strategy for the future with lots of open dialogue.  This gave EA the opportunity to understand the cultural characteristics of each TMC in great detail and to assess the fit to their business.

The Result: From an early stage in the sourcing process, EA were able to clearly identify potential TMCs who’s cultural capability and future strategy would align to their own.  This first step was the foundation of the decision process and set the tone for the beginning of their targeted high performing TMC relationship.

GETTING THE RIGHT ANSWERS
REAL TRANSPARENCY ON CAPABILITIES

The Issue: EA needed to ensure that the shortlisted providers were focussed on EA’s priorities and not their own ‘sales pitch’.  EA was determined to select the perfect partner fit for their business and had some very specific business requirement to address.  Taking control of the dialogue and process was essential to ensure they had total clarity on the TMCs’ technical and servicing capabilities.

The Solution: Using the FESTIVE ROAD ‘Reverse RFP’ methodology, EA could clearly define the elements that were essential to their programme and shortlisted TMCs were directed to focus on these.  All responses were assessed and scored, using methodology to remove bias and independently assess capabilities.  Additional clarification sessions were set aside to really dig deep into some of the more important requirements.

The Result: By challenging the ‘traditional’ process and defining the business requirements to those shortlisted, this meant that EA could clearly articulate their priorities, which in turn allowed the TMC to focus on their capabilities.  This challenges the status-quo and gets TMCs to think differently about their responses and how they present themselves and their proposition.  It really helped to identify which TMCs have differentiated capability fit.

SPEAKING TO THE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS
DIGGING INTO WHAT REALLY MATTERS

The Issue: EA had some specific areas of their programme that the appointment of their new TMC would seek to improve.  They wanted the opportunity to expressly address these as part of the selection process, to be confident that the new provider would resolve them.

The Solution: The FESTIVE ROAD ‘Scenario Phase’ is a unique process where subject matter experts from final shortlisted TMCs are invited to present solutions to specific issues identified by the client. The topics are grouped to allow specialists from different teams to provide answers.  It’s an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how the TMC will tailor their service to the clients’ specific needs and really differentiate their service.

The Result: Being forced to conduct these sessions virtually, due to COVID-19, turned out to be advantageous.  It meant that the specialists from different teams could be available to provide answers and solutions to EA that gave real clarity on how they’d be resolved.  The people and teams that were qualified to respond were present and therefore EA could unpick the sales pitch and get to the reality of delivery.

Natalie’s
view…

“The Scenario phase was such an enlightening process. It was an opportunity to really kick the tyres and hear from the subject matter experts.”

FINDING THE RIGHT COMMERCIAL MODEL
RECOGNISING THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP

The Issue: When EA initiated the TMC sourcing exercise, the impact of COVID-19 was only just beginning to be understood.  By the time the commercial element of the process was reached, corporate travel had come to a shuddering halt.  This meant that initial commercial proposals needed reconsideration in the context of what the pandemic has taught us.

The Solution: Recognising that a TMC appointment is a long-term partnership, final shortlisted TMCs were given the opportunity to re-submit their commercial proposals, allowing them to take into account the impact of the pandemic, and to be certain that they would be able to efficiently and effectively service EA.  FESTIVE ROAD helped EA to analyse proposed models so that future scenarios were accounted for, costs apportioned to value and apportionable risk fairly managed.

The Result: An alternative hybrid model was put forward which included a combination of management, programme, and transaction fees.  Having conducted such an in-depth analysis of the culture and capability fit, it was easy to identify what really mattered within the programme and EA recognised the value of these services.  In order for the relationship to thrive, the commercials had to be right for both parties.

PRESENTING THE CASE FOR CHANGE
TAKING STAKEHOLDERS WITH YOU

The Issue: Throughout the sourcing project, EA had to regularly provide updates to their Steering Committee. Multiple stakeholders across the business had to provide approval at each stage of the decision-making process.

The Solution: Using the FESTIVE ROAD consulting rigour and methodology, every step was meticulously scored and documented for EA to support the decision-making process and provide a full audit trail.  Detailed information on every supplier and decision taken was recorded to support and facilitate internal stakeholder updates.

The Result:The EA project lead could confidently present the decision for their new TMC appointment to their Steering Committee.  They had a clear case for change, including the detail and data about what will be different as well as the improvements that will be delivered.  The structured approach to the sourcing project provided the framework for internal updates to the senior team, with clear and impactful information.

Natalie’s
view…

“FESTIVE ROAD has been fluid, flexible and creative. Their professionalism, partnership approach, support, counselling, and good humour has actually made TMC sourcing, one of the most stressful things a travel buyer does, fun!”

Mission success

Despite COVID-19 and the impact it has had on travel, EA knew that it was the right decision to use the travel pause to source a new TMC.  They were looking for a consultancy to provide the external perspective on the market and an objective view on potential suppliers.

The methodical approach, open dialogue and refreshingly challenging style from FESTIVE ROAD has meant that EA have been able to identify the best partner to deliver and manage their global programme.  Having a clear and structured approach to Culture, Capabilities and Commercials means that EA is confident in the appointment of their TMC as they embark upon a new, genuine long-term partnership.

When travel resumes, EA will be ready to support their business travellers.

Natalie’s
view…

“Having to conduct the project in a virtual environment because of the pandemic has not only meant that more of the right people were accessible and could be involved, but it also provided the stage to be creative and truly shine.”

Learn More

To speak to Natalie about her experience with FESTIVE ROAD and the support EA received to source and appoint their new TMC, or to talk to one of the FESTIVE ROAD team contact hello@festive-road.com or visit www.festive-road.com