In this age of DIY everything, partnering with a travel management company (TMC) doesn’t seem to fit from the perspective of some travelers – particularly Millennials. However, for business owners and managers a focus on the procurement-driven principles takes the concept of managing a trip to managing travel and entertainment - the line item. For many organizations, the TMC is a foundational element in the process that supports the travel department, meetings department, human resources, finance, legal, IT, security, and many other people or departments.
To select the right TMC partner, there are several things to consider. They include:
1. What do we spend now and are we getting good results?
Air (average domestic and international ticket number totals), hotel, car, and (if applicable) meetings should all be benchmarked. Supplier deals should in place and fully leveraged.
2. Who is and isn’t using the travel program and why?
You may have to secure this data from the back office system or credit card data. Make sure that you substantiate objections and put a plan in place for what you will do about those travelers who have gone rogue.
3. What is and isn’t working within your travel program?
Create a travel squad with representatives from throughout the organization who are affected by travel. Survey, review, and assess the data to help develop an improvements list to determine what you should improve, change and/or add. Many RFPs simply check off requirements of features and benefits, but do not take into consideration improvements.
4. What needs to improve?
An RFI or series of prospect clinics can help determine which TMCs will diagnose your situation best and offer up creativity now. Then, in the future, present solutions and opportunities you may not know about.
5. Who are we using now and who should be considered?
Once you understand the improvements your organization wants to make, you must then decide if your current TMC will provide the right solution to implement those. Take into consideration your contract with your current provider and what that includes.
6. What’s important in our RFP?
Objections, shared data, and where detailed answers are required vs. where a box can be checked that the feature is available are all important considerations when putting together an RFP. Always keep a proper and respectful Q&A and response period. Don’t think that RFPs are reasoned by their size: Respectful RFPs =Respectful, excited partners.
7. What are our pricing requirements?
Remember, you get what you pay for. You could pay $5 more in fees to some $50 more and/or receive critical inclusions in the fee. Be sure to define key items clearly as TMCs define transactions, exchanges, VIP services and others in varying ways. Fees could be reimbursed by your customers and there are other pricing considerations, which may be more effective in your business plan. Be clear on what’s undefined.
Review these questions with members of your team who help manage travel for the organization. If service is important, review service level agreements and key performance indicators offered. Above all, this process should start a partnership.