Portman Travel - Case Study

John Dick - Head of Operations

John Dick - Head of Operations - Portman Travel

As head of operations for Portman Travel within the business travel sector, I have commissioned Curran Associates to deliver training since 2002. During that time we have used the company to help us with our strategic planning in a number of improvement initiatives.

As the person responsible for determining our training needs, I initially looked at training related to supervisory management and customer services. John Curran helped to write and deliver, extremely effectively, training in both of these areas. Many of the people trained then are still working for the company and a significant number have been promoted. This is partly due to the training and also John's enduring relationship with many of our employees as a mentor and confidential friend.

Following on from that success, we moved to the delivery of SMART selling. This initiative was designed to improve product knowledge and increase staff confidence in offering the full range of services to our customers. It represented a natural progress from the initial set of courses.

John has also delivered performance appraisal, time management, negotiation skills, presentation skills and sales training over the past eight years.

He has worked with our area managers, account managers and sales over the years on improving their skill sets.

Curran Associates have extensive experience of developing leadership within companies across three continents. We have tapped into that experience with all of my senior management team following the programme. This continues to be ongoing through personal coaching and mentoring and my managers are showing many of the attributes associated with leadership.

The Go the Extra Mile Programme (GEM) customer care programme has been in operation for several years in sections of the company. Within the past year I decided to roll it out to the whole of operations. Curran Associates helped create and deliver the training module for this programme.

We have seen significant buy in across the company and we are now using this to measure in detail the strengths and weaknesses of each branch nationally. Employees are enthused by the programme and successful staff are being recognised and rewarded for their contribution to the programme. It has been pivotal in meaningfully changing attitudes and also bringing all operational departments up to a high minimal level of standards that can and are easily monitored and maintained. John has been crucial in introducing this to an initially sceptical audience who now embrace this fully.

Like many companies, we spend a lot of money on recruitment. Costs that could be mitigated by improving the way we recognise and reward our existing talent. To that end, we have initiated a Future Leaders programme. We have two, fifteen month programmes for Managers and Team Leaders running in parallel with one another. These are proving to be productive in helping to give operations staff a broader perspective of the company and empower them to instigate improvements both individually and as a team.

Motivation levels are high and we are seeing cross company initiatives that are increasing the speed with which we do things and reducing unnecessary costs. Currently, small project teams have been set up to address and develop procedures and processes that will help us increase our revenue. We envisage that the cost associated with this type of initiative will have a significant return on investment through new approaches and a reduction in talent leaving us and needing to be replaced.

Crucially participants see this type of training as an investment in the future and to be a significant move away from reactive training to preventative training based on past experiences.

It was therefore vital we chose a trainer that empathised with those aspirations but who could also bring flexibility for what is a pilot course that requires input from participants and trainer alike to refine the programme for future students.

Maintaining a productive business relationship with one service provider has meant that we have someone who understands our business, brings an objective eye to what we do and provides insights that sometimes influence our strategic view.

John is personable, trust worthy, honest, candid, talented and inventive in what he does. He delivers on time and to budget and is diplomatic when faced with sensitive issues. I consider him to be a confidential friend who is willing to tell me things I sometimes don't really want to hear. He isn't always right, but we have a mutual trust and respect that gets us there every time.

His contribution has helped me perform better and meet the aspirations of my team.

It is one of the longest relationships (and perhaps the one I value most) of any supplier despite the ever changing demands of our business. That in itself is a clear indication of the value we believe he brings to our company.

John Dick

Head of Operations