Booking travel for clients in the oil and gas industry requires a specialist skillset as it involves challenging destinations and time-sensitive issues that have to be addressed.
The oil and gas industry (O&G) is no ordinary industry; the complex logistics of crew rotations would fox any regular TMC, while the destinations involved would test the geography skills of others. Very often they are emerging destinations with limited or no infrastructure as well as safety and geopolitical concerns.
Luis Mata, Head of Business Development, oil and gas, Sub-Sahara Africa, sums it up when he says: “The oil and gas sector is a high-risk and niche industry that requires the best and very skilled people, operating under the most dangerous environments and always maintaining uncompromised duty of care and health and safety standards.”
Finding safe accommodation in Angola, last-minute flights out of Maracaibo, an armed vehicle for an airport transfer from Lagos airport or a helicopter transfer from Pointe Noire in Congo are the everyday challenges of those specialising in the sector.
With so much at stake, oil and gas clients gravitate to specialist TMCs. They rely on them to support and improve the travel programme by streamlining business processes and upgrading their costly manual processes to automated booking systems to ensure cost control and compliance. Any TMC must be able to blend seamlessly their offline and online service as the industry is made up of point-to-point travel, executive/business travel and high-impact/high-touch crew travel.
Traveller productivity, safety and wellbeing are at the heart of all oil and gas travel programmes although with contraction in the industry cost is also a major factor. “Cost comes into play with tighter controls on policy but safety still points to high adoption to ensure travel risk management protocol is followed,” explains Chris Martin, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development at Wings.
Overall, a specialist skillset is crucial. “You need travel experts that are able to know what airlines are on the EU banned carrier list, which airports are safe/cheaper to connect, the best connecting times with constant adherence to the clients’ travel policies and all bearing in mind that the client might need to connect to a helicopter to the rig or board a boat offshore,” explains Mata. ”The TMC needs to entrenched themselves in the client business.”
That means going outside the basic fulfilment role and providing relevant destination data, alert messages and incident-management reporting so clients are aware of any new risks affecting business travel.
Wings offers accurate, real-time traveller tracking, made possible through PULSE, its single technology platform that keeps track of all Wings clients, no matter their point of origin or destination. Through its online tools, travellers can learn more about their destination and any potential risks of travelling to that location. In addition, its after-hours emergency contact centre –Wings24® – is there to help should a need arise.
To their credit, Mata describes oil and gas clients as “the most organised working machines”. In this industry, there must always be a Plan B. “They have up to six-month rotating schedules planned and executed, and an inventory of standby crews in case a rotator is ill or can’t make it, ” says Mata.
The industry splits into three distinct areas: the upstream which explores and produces the energy; the midstream which transports and stores; and the downstream which refines and distributes.
“Wings’ client portfolio embraces all three divisions of the oil and gas industry – upstream, midstream and downstream – and it has carved out a name for itself as a tmc which understands the complex needs of o&g clients”
Wings’ client portfolio embraces all three divisions and it has carved out a name for itself as a TMC which understands the complex needs of oil and gas clients. It provides a ‘follow-the-sun’ servicing solution which manages client travel needs anywhere and anytime, staffed with its own team members – nothing is outsourced – and providing a consistent, high-touch service. It’s a single gateway to the world.
The Wings team can access travel records regardless of where or when the reservation was made. It ensures a seamless and reliable after-hours service delivery through Wings24®.
In the future, it is likely that oil and gas will become less high-touch and more high-transaction/online type travel but the industry’s remote locations are
unlikely to change as exploration underpins its growth trajectory.