Headquartered in Washington, DC, the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCOC) represents more than 3 million businesses of all sizes across the country. This century old organization is the largest non-profit that advocates on behalf of America’s business interests.
When new management took over the USCOC, they wanted to make changes in their travel program. As with many organizations, they wanted more control over their T&E budget and wanted to put a strategic travel system in place that would benefit the entire organization.
The USCOC wanted to partner with a TMC that would help them reach their travel management goals, so they hired MacNair Travel Management due to our association travel management expertise.
We started with reviewing the existing program.
Not surprisingly, this assessment found:
- They were paying above average airline ticket prices. Under the new travel program, we purchased 1700 tickets with a savings of $132/ticket resulting in a $224,400 in savings annually.
- They were not leveraging vendor agreements for discounts and benefits for preferred air, hotel and car vendors. This offered a tremendous opportunity for savings which we implemented right away.
- They needed an automated expense tool to give visibility into individual travel expenses. Was employee spending in alignment with the organization’s values? Were employees losing productivity keeping up with paper receipts? Are examples of questions we sought to answer.
Each of these areas presented opportunities to reduce travel expenses and improved the overall TEM process by making it easier for USCOC employees to adhere to the travel policy.
We Established Objectives
To begin, we worked with the organization’s leadership to establish primary and secondary objectives in their travel procedures and program.
As is common, one of those primary objectives was lowering overall costs and we quickly realized we could leverage travel volume for discounts with preferred hotel, car and airline vendors.
With the new contracts in place, a dedicated travel consultant helped optimize the travel program implementation by facilitating reservations and enforcing new policies (such as using the automated expense tool). We also encouraged widespread program adoption by meeting with groups of travelers and schedulers to outline the benefits of the new policies and answer questions.
We helped these travelers and schedulers get comfortable with the new travel program by training them on proper use of the online booking tool and automated expense programs.
Within the first year of implementing the new program:
- Average ticket prices dropped 22%, from $591 to $459
- Hotel and car rental costs dropped by 10%
Incorporating a Travel Management Company (TMC) into your travel program is a smart decision from an operational and financial standpoint. TMCs understand what’s available in the business travel marketplace, how certain options fit within the context of your specific needs, and have a negotiating advantage due to pre-existing relationships with vendors.
For example, you’re probably aware of the hidden ancillary fees in today’s airline prices, which can increase the fare price significantly. Supplier pricing, without question, can be a complicated matter. Priority boarding, baggage fees, increased leg room, Wi-Fi – are a few of the additional “hidden” costs you might encounter when it comes to booking an airline ticket. By negotiating directly with suppliers and by leveraging your travel volume, a TMC can improve your control over these “hidden” fees and gain visibility into actual costs.
TMCs also have access to unbiased rate search tools – so you get the best rate – and other technologies that will help you save money and make the entire business travel process easier on your employees.
Besides unbiased rate search tools, another powerful technology is the automated expense tool. This is a real-time application that your employees can use to input their expenses while they’re on the road. You can even set limits or prepay certain expenses like hotel and car rentals. This increases productivity because it reduces the time spent reconciling receipts.
A TMC will also help you to adopt a clear travel policy. This includes procedures for how employees can and should only book with approved vendors. If they need to go outside of those vendors, there’s should also be an easy-to-follow process for gaining approval.
As you can see, there are multiple ways a TMC can help your organization control T&E costs and streamline the travel process. In the case of our work with the USCOC, while dramatic changes were seen in the initial implementation phase, we continue to work with them and help them achieve additional goals such as:
- Reducing hotel and car costs by 10%
- Offering staff online and full-service 24/7 reservation opportunities
- Developing a system to monitor spending and keep it consistent with company policy
- Improving staff productivity
- Enhance safety and security programs
With a clear travel policy and well-communicated procedures in place, it was far easier to help employees meet expectations and be policy compliant. For more on how we helped transform USCOC’s T&E Process, read the full case study here: