Credit Suisse First Boston today implemented Rosenbluth International as its travel management company for the United States and United Kingdom.
Rosenbluth, which intended to provide service for the global investment banking firm with $110 million in air volume, has taken on the additional $80 million air volume of financial services firm Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette, which was acquired by CSFB in August.
CSFB, which for the past three years was an American Express customer, in January decided to rebid its agency contract. Michelle Lee, New York-based director of the internal client services group, which includes global travel, graphic services, corporate events and media services, said, “Although travel services improved in 1999, we were asked by senior management to completely reevaluate financial and service proposals. We have extremely high expectations of our travel partner and require exceptional services.”
CSFB in February sent a letter to travel management companies with a detailed schedule of events so they could book time on their calendars for the following nine months. “We wanted the process to be very well communicated,” said Lee. “Because I, along with several members of my team have worked in an agency sales position, we wanted to be realistic with our timelines and set expectations from the start.” CSFB has met its original deadlines, awarding the contract by Sept. 30 to go into effect on Dec. 4.
The company`s number-one focus in the agency bid was on agency service, second to that was thinking outside of the box. “We were looking for a partnership that was financially competitive, knowing that the financial offering alone would not drive our decision. It is important to recognize that the financial performance of the travel management company contract is only one component of the financial analysis. The other component is the financial performance of the entire program—you can`t incrementally improve on a program year over year without a lot of creative scenario planning. Rosenbluth delivered upon those needs,” said Lee.
One of Rosenbluth`s ideas that CSFB is working on is a link in the travel res system to the videoconferencing system to assist with an initiative to reduce travel. Technology also was hugely important to the technologically advanced firm.
“We wanted a travel management company that would stimulate high adoption rates to our online booking system. It was refreshing to work with a company that had the capability and desire to support an already-implemented product that was not their own,” said Lee. “We wanted to work with a company that in five to 10 years time was still going to be leading edge, and that was Rosenbluth.”
Rosenbluth, which has unbundled services and is charging CSFB a transaction fee, will operate two onsites in Manhattan and provide after-hours service through a travel center. CSFB put in contract service level agreements for business hours service and after-hours service to ensure Rosenbluth meets its expectations in both areas. “The measurements we implemented are standard in the industry. What`s notable is that Rosenbluth feels so strongly about their ability to deliver, they agreed to place a financial reward and penalty against their performance for all services,” said Lee.
Rosenbluth will expand its contract to provide service for the rest of Europe. CSFB also will look at using Rosenbluth in Asia/Pacific, but Lee feels the company is better served by using local agencies in the highly diversified region. CSFB currently has seven different agencies in Asia/Pacific.
DLJ, which previously used Maritz Travel Co. in the United States and World Travel Agency in London, initially was slated to implement Rosenbluth in 1Q01, following the CSFB implementation. After carefully looking at timelines, Lee in late October decided to implement DLJ travel on the same launch date. “Without missing a beat, Rosenbluth said, `We can make it happen,` ” said Lee.
Lee said one of the biggest conversion issues was moving DLJ to a different GDS. CSFB already was on Apollo, but DLJ used Sabre and had to be moved over to Apollo.
Lee has welcomed the two-person DLJ travel staff to the CSFB travel team, which is reevaluating the policies of both firms to create a single policy for their more than 9,000 frequent travelers.
Meanwhile, the global team by Dec. 15 will finalize global negotiations for air, car and hotel for the merged company. “We are working to incorporate a mix of preferred air suppliers,” said Lee. “We also hope to strengthen existing supplier relationships with additional volume and a more global scope.”