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Partnership An Ares Management and Travel and Transport Success Story

Ares Management Corporation is one of the largest, global alternative asset managers, with three complementary and market leading investment groups: credit, private equity and real estate. When Ares realized they needed to reevaluate their current travel management partner, they turned to Travel and Transport as a trusted, flexible and innovative organization that was willing to truly listen to their needs. We sat down with Doug Weeks, Principal Corporate Services, Head of Global Travel, to discuss the changes and expectations that Ares needed in a partner. Below is the Ares Management and Travel and Transport success story.

What were you looking for in a travel management partner?

Flexibility. A partner who is willing to listen to what we're really trying to accomplish. Travel and Transport came in and started looking at our short-term goals in terms of improving service for travelers and travel arrangers, but also worked with us to establish long-term strategic goals. They brought to light opportunities we did not know about. We know how Ares operates. But we don't know how the rest of the universe operates. We are always looking for business partners that bring new insights to us.

Ares sets high expectations. How is Travel and Transport meeting these expectations?

We've received a lot of compliments on the quality and knowledge of the travel advisors that are deployed on our account. I think in an immediate way, we've increased the confidence level our people have in the travel program. The responsiveness and quality that the advisors are putting forth is being noticed.

Travel and Transport invested in providing adequate training, from web sessions to in-person training and on-site support the week of launch. Attention to details such as this continues to drive confidence. The active involvement by senior level management, and the true engagement from the firm, has also been outstanding.

How has Travel and Transport’s relationship with Concur helped with your program development?

Having the resources and knowledge to support Concur on the TMC side is something that should never be overlooked. We are able to leverage Travel and Transport's partnership with Concur which has proven to be extremely beneficial.

The Travel and Transport technology team spent a lot of time with us on demos and were in lockstep with us throughout the whole process. We get a lot of questions and feedback about the Concur product from travelers. We don't have all the answers, but Travel and Transport gets the answers for us because they act as a true extension of our team.

I can't tell you how many emails I've seen Travel and Transport tech specialists send asking questions and addressing situations. I think this is why our adoption rate is already at 80%, which is much higher than I anticipated it would be this early in our partnership.

How did Travel and Transport's expertise in the private equity vertical impact your decision?

I had been a customer of Travel and Transport at a previous private equity organization. I knew Travel and Transport had the expertise and could handle high-touch, high-demand consulting firms.

During the decision process, we of course looked at who our competitors were using for travel, and we asked ourselves if we should be going in the same direction. But what stopped us from looking at the larger TMCs was that Travel and Transport was simply more flexible and client-oriented. Travel and Transport is simply the right size TMC for us.

I had an existing confidence level and knew they could and would exceed expectations.

Flexibility, customization, listening and building a program around your needs was a big part of the bid process. What are some examples of how Travel and Transport delivered?

The pre-implementation is really where flexibility started. We went through many iterations of contract types and models. The Travel and Transport team demonstrated not only flexibility, but patience in that process.

As we were going through the contract, Travel and Transport started the hiring process. They wanted us to have a say in who they were hiring. We had the opportunity to speak with the travel advisors prior to hiring and determine if they would fit our specific needs. No other agency offered us this. It was the openness on Travel and Transport’s part to let us be involved and have a say in the hiring that really stood out. Everything from the contract, to the hiring, to the technology set up included our equal say and Travel and Transport made sure our specific industry requirements were addressed.

What services/products offered by Travel and Transport stand out to you?

Travel and Transport’s mobile app has been a great addition to our program. I've heard a lot of positive feedback on that. I've used it myself and can only compare it to the one we were using previously and it's night and day. I think people, even our partners, are pretty excited about it.

For individuals that rely on their executive admin to make their travel plans, it has given them a new outlet to receive their travel information. They can make changes without having to reach out to their admin. It’s been a real benefit to our travelers.

Travel and Transport’s mobile app has been a great addition to our program.

What goals do you have set for 2019?

We have built confidence in our travel program so now it’s time to be more strategic on the overall travel side. Some of our goals are less agency-oriented this year than they were last year.

We are looking at supply and demand of our air, hotel and car suppliers and will make some different decisions not only about what we're buying but how we’re buying it. We are starting to ask ourselves questions on how we can look at policy differently. I've got to believe we can look and find our travelers suitable alternatives of the same caliber of accommodations, and in turn, find savings in our program.

What are the three things you would say makes Travel and Transport different from the competition?

At Travel and Transport, the customer is first. There is a lot of cynicism or skepticism about the TMC model and really what the goals of a TMC partnership should be compared to what they actually are in the industry. Travel and Transport will do what's right for the customer. I truly believe that, based on how they have been dedicated to establishing trust and confidence in our travelers and arrangers.

Flexibility is key. They listen to their clients and put our needs first.

Finally, having access to their senior team. It’s not often that type of engagement and attention is provided. It all goes back to putting the customer first.

What recommendations would you give other travel managers that are looking at going out to bid?

I think you have got to look at it from the standpoint of "who can you partner with to manage your overall travel and not just focus on managing down the cost of the TMC." The industry seems to be hyper focused on agency costs. I think that is the wrong way to look at it. You have got to look at it as a total and figure out who can help manage the entire travel spend. What is the overall value to the entire program that can be provided?

who can you partner with to manage your overall travel and not just focus on managing down the cost of the TMC?

It also really comes down to who can you trust. Look, we all know the agencies have their own deals with airlines, hotels, GDS organizations, etc., but a trusted TMC will not put their deals ahead of their client needs with blatant promotions. A true partner puts the needs of their customer first and that is exactly where we are with Travel and Transport today.

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© 2019 Travel and Transport, Inc.

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