How Locomote Elevated the Booking Process for Ryman Healthcare

Locomote is the one-stop travel platform that offers modern management tools and booking solutions.
Deanna Simunic
Executive Assistant to CEO

About Ryman Healthcare

The Ryman story began in 1983 after co-founder private investigator Kevin Hickman probed a rest home fire in Christchurch. Like many retirement villages of the time, he realised how poor the facility standards were. 

In the villa, four people had to share a room with no toilet inside. The common loos were down the corridor. 

While the staff in charge of the place did all they could to keep it in tip-top shape, it was clear it needed some policy changes. 

Kevin recalls thinking: “What would I want for Mum?” 

It wasn’t a shared ensuite with fellow residents. 

Soon, Kevin shared his findings —  and his big idea —  with his business partner, John Ryder. Together, they decided to improve the way older people lived out their golden years. 

The pair found a block of 14 two-bedroom flats on River Road in Christchurch, which became the duo’s first rest home. It was then that Ryman Healthcare — a combination of the last names Ryder and Hickman — came to life. 

Almost four decades later, the company still follows the same ethos. Everything must be good enough for Mum — or Dad.

Decision-makers often travel to these areas and other global destinations to ensure the highest standards for their locations. They often participate in conventions, industry conferences, and similar gatherings to stay true to their mission.

With that said, this endeavour wouldn’t be possible without business travel. It’s one of the components that keep the business ahead of the competition.

Previous Travel Challenges

Outdated System

Before using Locomote, Ryman Healthcare had a long-lasting relationship with another travel agency.

The team was reluctant to try another booking system because the department heads were familiar with the old platform. 

However, persons in charge experienced similar functionality challenges with the previous outdated platform, such as:

  • Accessing the best inventory: Ryman Healthcare managers sometimes discovered too late that they had had better flights or hotel options than the ones they booked. The limited travel inventory often made trips longer or more expensive than necessary. 
  • Confirming several booking types: With Ryman Healthcare’s old system, choosing several flights and hotels per transaction often ended in error messages. 
  • Rebooking or cancellation options: Sometimes, injury, illness, and other life moments prevent people from travelling on certain dates. The organisation often faced difficulties in changing travel details.

As the company started operating more retirement villages, business travel became a must. Ryman Healthcare CEO Richard Umbers said, “We were reluctant to break our relationship with our previous travel booker. However, we needed to make changes to address our team’s ever-changing needs.

Inadequate Cost Management Strategy

Ryman Healthcare had a detailed business travel policy, but the team faced challenges in implementing its cost management efforts. 

The individuals involved in business travel typically had to cover their out-of-pocket expenses. They had to keep track of their receipts and be mindful of expense policies to avoid overspending. 

Afterwards, they forwarded the necessary documents to the administration department for reimbursement. The team had to manually ensure that travellers didn't exceed their allotted budgets and received their funds as quickly as possible. 

This system posed challenges for travellers and the company alike.

The reimbursement structure was challenging for junior team members who didn’t have enough liquid assets to wait weeks for their refunds. At times, they would also receive only a portion of their spending because of expense policies they didn’t know about. 

On the other hand, the administration department had to add cost management to its growing list of to-dos. 

Lengthy Booking Process

Like other corporations, Ryman Healthcare dealt with a tedious booking process. After all, business travel is no walk in the park. Individuals in charge of these endeavours have flights to book, accommodations to arrange, and an endless list of internal and external policies to consider. 

Corporate travel management is the system a company oversees to facilitate business travel. It’s a multi-branch strategy covering various components, including planning, booking, payments, approval, and compliance.

When Ryman Healthcare used its old booking system, the administration team spent too much time on business travel tasks. They often had to check several suppliers for every transaction, go back and forth between departments for approval, and review spending policies.

The team’s previous provider had a syncing issue with flight seat availability. For this reason, even without error messages or travel changes, the booking process was already hellish to manage. 

The administration team often spent most of their time on these ventures instead of focusing on high-value tasks.

Solutions by Locomote

One-stop Booking Shop

Ryman Healthcare had to deal with an outdated system, limiting its access to the best inventory, various booking types, and rebooking and cancellation options. 

However, with Locomote, the administration team can now manage all business travel components on a simple and reliable platform. It helps the team save substantial amounts of time and money. 

Additionally, Locomote empowers travellers to make informed compliant choices through personalised results. With the travel management company’s technology, users can plan their trips within minutes. 

However, the ease of use doesn’t equate to a lack of control. Instead, decision-makers enjoy real-time visibility on travel spending, making it convenient to adjust guidelines if necessary. Today, the Ryman Healthcare management team has total control of its business travel endeavours. 

Lastly, the retirement living company now has access to experienced travel agents 24/7/365. These specialists assist users with bookings, changes, and cancellations via phone, email, or in-app chat. 

Business Travel Management Tools

Ryman Healthcare now uses Locomote’s business travel management tools to check flight changes, unused tickets, and other expense-related information. Everything the decision-makers need is in one convenient dashboard instead of on mountains of invoices, bookings, and receipts. 

Account managers now use Locomote’s policy engine to automate workflows for various departments. This feature minimises the administration department’s workload and lets executives oversee each team’s spending against their budgets. 

For Ryman Healthcare, one of the most notable advantages of using Locomote is receiving one invoice for all their purchases. Instead of manually tracking hundreds of receipts, executives can check the digital reports detailing all expenses. 

The company’s CEO Richard Umbers said, “Today, our administration department doesn’t have to spend most of their time on our business travel endeavours. The team can get so much done without having to keep on top of booking flights and hotels, processing refunds, and fixing cancellations.

Easy-to-Use Booking Solutions

Today, Ryman Healthcare’s administration department doesn’t have to book flights and accommodations for travellers. Instead, individuals who have to move between retirement villages can manage their own trips. 

The platform offers an unmatched user experience (UX), but travel experts are also just a tap, click, or call away. It’s like having a personal agent for every team member. 

They can book and manage every trip within minutes, which feels just as easy as booking a holiday. Everything a traveller needs to book, manage, and update travel components is on one convenient page. 

However, Locomote’s intuitive and user-friendly interface adheres to the strictest internal and external policies. This feature minimises the need to cancel unnecessary bookings. 

Plus, with Locomote, every member of the Ryman Healthcare team has access to travel alerts, COVID-19 updates, local guidelines, and more. These features include safety notifications, passport expiration dates, and visa requirements. 

Finally, the team enjoys a smooth booking system with minimal human errors. 

Before Locomote

  • Frequently encountered error messages when trying to book
  • Limited rebooking options
  • Poor cost management
  • Complicated booking process

After Locomote

  • Streamlined invoice management
  • Increased time to focus on managerial tasks
  • Quick booking and travel updates
  • Unmatched UX and customer support


Like many multi-location organisations, Ryman Healthcare’s success requires an effective business travel strategy. Such efforts offer various benefits, including opening opportunity avenues, empowering leaders, and building relationships. 

As the brand representatives started taking more official corporate trips, the management realised its old system would not suffice. While they were reluctant to break a long-lasting relationship with a previous travel booker, they also knew they needed a better booking system. 

The retirement living care company had to deal with an outdated platform, inadequate cost management strategy, and lengthy booking processes. Ultimately, these challenges led to massive time and monetary losses. 

The top management decided it was time to upgrade the company's booking system to address the team's ever-changing needs. After extensive deliberation, the executives thought it best to use Locomote. 

According to CEO Richard Umbers, the organisation could not be happier with the decision. Today, Ryman Healthcare enjoys a one-stop booking platform that offers modern management tools and booking solutions.

With suppliers like Locomote, Ryman Healthcare has secured its spot as one of the largest companies on the NZX 50 Index.

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