SECRETS OF A GLOBAL TRAVEL PURCHASER

Schneider Electric’s Lukrecya Payen underlines importance of technology & big data in travel recipe

Lukrecya Payen is Senior Global Travel Buyer – Global Purchasing – Global Supply Chain for Schneider Electric. In this role, she is in charge of global travel commodities, which includes airlines, hotels, TMCs & consulting services. In addition, she coordinates with regional teams in order to support them in all travel related topics. With a long career in the business, her education included “Tourism and New Technologies”. We asked her how important it has been to have a firm grasp of technologies and how they can be leveraged in this field…

In 2003, it was the first and only degree to mix travel questions with new technologies in France: being one of the first students to graduate in this specialisation was really a great opportunity to understand how new technologies and the digital revolution were going to revolutionise our daily life and more particularly business travel. And here we are 13 years later. Technology is a wonderful tool, but it can also be our best enemy if not managed in an efficient and professional way. Companies are facing major questions about appropriate settings, data management and data privacy as well as employee safety.

What is the secret to doing a job like yours well?

First, to love what you do. Then, I think that one must be open-minded, curious, an intercultural fan and looking for the best of each and every one of us all year long. Challenge yourself, challenge your colleagues and of course your suppliers!

What are the possible pitfalls that should be avoided?

Definitely the major pitfall is to compare leisure & professional offers at the same level. My French and international counterparts have received, time and again, the following classic statement from their travellers or financial teams: “I found cheaper price on the internet, you and your travel agency are useless!” To make a long story short: the simpler it looks the more complex it is! Surely, such complexity will keep challenging us for several years onwards.

You have been able to build up ongoing relationships with major companies like American Express. Why is it important to have close relations with people in these companies rather than simply treating them like “suppliers”?

Schneider Electric suppliers strategy is typically built in this dimension for a while: concentrate our spend within a limited suppliers’ pool in order to build long-term partnerships; to get the best of their services and innovation, to at least build a win-win model.

What destinations do you find are the most interesting at the moment and why?

My favourites are Poland and India. I come from Poland, which has beautiful landscapes, and proud people. Just look at the country’s GDP growth: 3% on average… Just amazing, isn’t it? India is similar to Poland on various levels. It has a young population, highly educated and technology addicts (350,000 new graduate engineers each year) and the highest GDP growth in Asian zone (expected growth at an average of 7.5% – 8% in the next 10 – 15 years). Recent studies reveal that manufacturing, energy & automation companies project to grow at 12% – 15% in this same time. Schneider Electric is well positioned to take advantage of all the market dynamics in India.