15 Minutes with Jessica Fromm
GetYourGuide makes it easy for people to get up and explore the world around them by collecting and categorising the world’s top attractions. This means people do less research, and have more fun!
Running the show behind the scenes at the company’s Berlin headquarters is Office Manager Jessica Fromm. We sat down with her and explored her role, her responsibilities, and a little about her experience managing the travel commitments of the many GetYourGuide employees. Read on for some of her essential travel management tips!
Can you please introduce yourself, your role, and your company?
My name is Jessica Fromm. I am the Office Manager at the Headquarters of GetYourGuide Deutschland GmbH in Berlin.
What attracts you to your role?
The many challenges finding the perfect flight, the best hotel for the demanded budget to beat and making the trip as smooth and convenient as possible keep me on my toes every time - and I just love it! Still, travel management is just one of the many tasks of the Office Manager. And as I am a certified travel agent who’s worked in this business in many capacities for 20 years now, my experiences have come in handy.
How is your typical day structured? How do you receive travel requests?
My day starts with normal things like checking incoming emails and travel requests, as well as making my rounds in the office to check that all is going well. Travel requests are either received in our travel or office inbox.
How do you prepare employees for a trip?
I forward them all confirmations and hand them any necessary paperwork if needed. I also make myself available for any travel tips they might ask for, as I have many years of experience in the field and can usually offer some piece of advice to help.
Can you tell us about a particularly difficult problem you overcame when it came to business travel at GetYourGuide?
There was no structure or procedure whatsoever when I took over travel management duties at GetYourGuide. So to acclimate our people to a certain procedure for travel requests took a while to be fully accepted. Going forward, TravelPerk will help us summarize all travel activities and optimize costs for a more robust and efficient travel management workflow overall.
What kind of travel policy does GetYourGuide implement when sending employees away on business?
Above all else, we try to stay in our budget. However, time is money and we do try to book trips as conveniently as possible for our employees. We do try to avoid short notice cancellations and changes, but even that isn’t always possible.
The official GetYourGuide travel policies are being redefined at this point in time and a newer version will be released and implemented within the next weeks. In creating them, we look at general procedures regarding the request and booking of travel for employees, as well as set budgetary guidelines. German tax laws have to be considered, so we work closely with our accounting department to revise our travel policies to ensure compliance. If you are a start-up like we are, there are always opportunities to learn and always room for improvement. It takes professionals to make sure something as important as this is done right.
What kind of challenges does your company encounter when trying to handle the itineraries of so many people/groups of people?
Time is key and getting good hotel rates and reasonable flight fares depend on early bookings. Sometimes that isn’t so obvious. Keeping track of all the different needs and not forgetting the obligatory details for these many business travel bookings can be a challenge alongside the other tasks concerning Office Management. Managing travel efficiently needs all your attention or you can risk losing that higher level view of things.
When employees are out on the road, sometimes they can encounter problems at the hotel, for instance (i.e. the front desk wants to charge the full amount of the reservation directly to them.) Usually, I can call the hotel and settle things. Going forward, TravelPerk will also help me avoid these problems since it offers a hotline for service for problems just like these.
How do you control travel costs and keep an eye on what people spend? Which cost is the most difficult one to control?
I personally try to book within 24 hours of the request to ensure good fares and prices. I try not to waste money on things that might not be needed, like excess baggage, higher fares, seat reservations, and so on. The cost that is most difficult to control is short notice changes and cancellations and while costs like that are unavoidable, I do try to give alternatives and educate people on their booking behaviour to help stem this type of invisible spend.
What are the top three tools and apps that are necessary for you?
When it comes to tools, TravelPerk is a lifesaver. It’s made it easy for me to search for flights and helped me avoid a lot of hassle by saving me the trouble of inputting personal data over and over again for the employees I book for as they are already stored. It’s one of my favourite features being that it saves me so much time! Another big plus is how the tool shows me all booked trips on one page, which is incredibly convenient for me if I need to look up specific travel details.
In terms of apps, I rely on Google Maps to find locations and to plan a trip, Google Calendar to keep me on track, and Monument Valley to challenge me and to help keep my sanity. They’re all definitely some of my most used and loved applications.
What general tips would you give to the person in the role of managing travel?
It’s important to keep up with travel news! My personal favourite is fvw, but I suggest reading anything travel related like the Lonely Planet Magazine. Be a freak about detail and get to intimately know how flights and fares work. Don’t forget to be open minded and think outside the box, too!