Travel programmes regularly change and adapt to company and traveller needs. The relationship between Travel and Transport and Gowling WLG has developed to one that successfully balances an in-house team with Travel and Transport's technology, service and expertise.

The programme

  • Team: Phil Youster, head of operations and Martine Palfrey, business travel team leader. Gowling WLG has six in-house travel experts who offer a high touch service and handle all of the firm’s bookings, using Travel and Transport’s booking systems.
  • Annual travel spend: Approximately £2.8 million following growth, with a large number of rail bookings.
  • Locations: UK offices in Birmingham and London, with a total of 18 offices around the world.
  • Employees: More than 1,400 legal professionals.
  • Worked with Travel and Transport since: February 2013 after a tender process. Introduced in-house team in July 2014 “to offer a more consultative approach and offer a full VIP service, allowing us to control our costs and move the travel service in a new direction, commonly known as 'rent a plate',” explains Phil.
“Relationships take time to form and we really value the relationship we have. The team has worked with us on developing our in-house service and respond to our needs quickly and efficiently and we find that they don’t have an agenda – they know what we want and why!” - Phil Youster

Easing challenges

“Lawyers are notoriously 'on the ball' so we have to respond professionally and 100% accurately – we pride ourselves on getting it right the first time!” says Phil. “Client demands and expectations are always high. We offer a fast personal response and have the best interests of the firm at heart, with the emphasis on offering best value and best service.”

The UK rail travel desk offers the most challenges to the team, due to a high focus on making sure travel bookers get the right ticket at the right cost. Click here to read a case study on how Gowling is looking to streamline processes for rail travel

The nature of the law industry also means a lot of effort on air and hotels. “The biggest challenge will always be handling the amount of changes to bookings, because of how our lawyers have to work and react to client demands,” Phil says.

“We have a great relationship with Travel and Transport and work well together. We find that their friendly yet business-like approach suits our own culture." - Phil Youster

Rolling out new booker and traveller technology

Gowling WLG has introduced Dash Portal, built and developed by Travel and Transport's in-house team, as a tool for all travel bookers in 2019 and then the ‘final piece of the digital jigsaw’ will be the introduction of the Dash Mobile system.

“We want our travellers to have easier access to itineraries and travel information; innovation is huge in the legal sector and the introduction of Dash will help us bring innovation to our small part of the entire business,” explains Martine. “I am keen to streamline and bring the travellers, including the boomers, into the 21st century and hopefully the Dash project will allow this.”

Screengrabs of Dash Portal and Dash Mobile

The firm’s travel policy and traveller profile information have been incorporated into the tools, with Phil and Martine choosing to customise elements of the dashboard and switch on traveller alerts.

“The team and I took to Dash immediately; I like the way everything is in one place, and that we can add our own travel news or links. It is easy to use and I love the traveller snap shot; I also like the way we can adapt it to fit us and really anything within reason is possible." - Martine Palfrey

Martine adds: "Switching on traveller alerts is a great way to know what is happening all over the world as we may have people in a destination or on their way. It helps us deliver a better service by reducing the risks posed to our travellers and decreasing the time it takes to find where our people are."


Streamlining and technology will continue to be central to the relationship between Gowling WLG and Travel and Transport moving forward. As well as tools for its employees, Phil and Martine are exploring how the firm may also be able to streamline other processes using partners such as Concur and Conferma.

Additionally, Gowling WLG has linked with other Travel and Transport departments, including the events team.