Taking over from the Group Controller Belgium at TUI Belgium, TriFinance project consultant Steven Verniers knew what he was up to. The assignment at TUI Belgium, the market leader that sends two million Belgians on a holiday each year, was about consolidating financial data of Belgian entities and delivering valuable forecasts for both Belgian and Group management.
It's more than figures and data
TUI Group has a reputation as one of the world's leading tourism businesses, with over 1600 travel agencies and 150 aircrafts. In 2022, almost 17 million people went either on a summer holiday, ski trip or visited a city around the world. TUI Belgium is part of the Western Region Group, together with TUI Netherlands and TUI France. When the Group Controller Belgium was about to leave on a maternity leave, TUI contacted TriFinance to take over.
Head of Finance Charlotte Decaesstecker knew the role involved more than merely figures and reports. “A group controller needs to understand the business, know the figures and at the same time build a reliable story-line for management. It’s a demanding role.”
A group controller needs to understand the business, know the figures and at the same time build a reliable story-line for management. It’s a demanding role.
Charlotte Decaesstecker, Head of Finance TUI Belgium
The missing angle
Project consultant Steven Verniers was eager to start at TUI for a second mission. His first appearance at TUI came to a sudden end due to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. TUI immediately contacted TriFinance again when, a little more than two years later, the same role needed to be filled. “Steven had a head start. Thanks to his short period at TUI, they wanted him to do the job”, Business Manager at TriFinance Carl-Philippe Verfaillie explains. “Steven, one of our senior consultants, had extensive experience with controlling missions at multiple companies. At the same time, he wanted to add group controlling to that list. TUI made that possible.”
Building the bridge
“The first part of the assignment was what we always do: Hit the ground running”, Steven says. “I had to understand the challenges of the group controller I would soon be taking over from. Quite a challenge. TUI Belgium consists of different entities: a tour operator, a retail department, an airline, an insurance department… They need to be brought together as a whole, in a way you can explain variances versus budget, previous forecasts and last year. At the same time, all data in all systems need to be consistent.”
“In the extended closing calendar I was responsible for all steps in the process. It started with a flash result on the fourth working day, after which the actuals were determined some days later. Once we had those, it was time for a new forecast, creating variance analysis and building a slide deck for the business review with Management. At the same time, all steps need to be entered into the consolidation tool HFM. Group controlling is about understanding the business, consistency in figures and building bridges that feed the story-line.”
I gained a lot of new insights in this part of the controlling world. It’s more about handling high-level data with big and consistent accuracy.
Steven Verniers, Senior Project Consultant at TriFinance
Fly to new destinations
“This group controller role is only part of a bigger whole. The Belgian data are once more consolidated by the colleagues of TUI Group. It is interesting to see how the data go up the chain. I gained a lot of new insights in this part of the controlling world. It’s more about handling high-level data with big and consistent accuracy. That made it a very meaningful project for me, which is exactly what TriFinance stands for”, concludes Steven.