I see a lot of articles, especially around this time of year, about how to save money on travel. They often suggest a certain website, a certain day to book, and other creative approaches. While I don’t dismiss all of these thoughts, these articles are often geared toward individual travelers. In my experience, the best way to get savings results for organizations is by doing some basic blocking and tackling. If you simply focus on these four things and manage them extremely well within your travel program, you will get the best value.
- Leverage Deals. Most companies can have some sort of preferred supplier program. It may be a car deal, airline rewards program for the company, a contractual discount, or hotel agreements with your most frequented properties. Knowing what you spend, using the data to ensure you have the best deals with the right suppliers (a good account manager from a TMC should help you), and directing your people to those deals in all the right situations will help you win.
- Expand considerations. Three things should be of concern: (1) Not every site delivers all potential suppliers and fares; (2) Some are set to be wildly biased to their preferred suppliers; (3) Some sites are wildly biased to the traveler - it knows what the traveler likes and pushes that to him/her in a way that makes it hard for them to consider everything they should. Yikes. Make sure you direct travelers to a unbiased tool or tool that is biased to the company’s preferred suppliers. Not doing so will drive costs up.
- Enforce policy. Most organizations direct their travelers to fly coach, except in a few extraordinary circumstances. Do you dictate which coach fare? For example, should the traveler take the full coach ticket to LA for $1,200 or the same basic routing for $285? Policies so often fall short in defining thresholds over which travelers should consider other options. An alternate airport or time, a connection, or the travelers non-preferred airline may need to all be considered. Your culture should respect convenience but within some reasonable limits that are well defined. Call it, name it, police it (see below).
- Pre Trip. If and when- and it will happen- someone wants a fare that is outside the value policy the company put in place, have a system to say yes or no with the right data to make the right decision. TMCs have people and automation to make this happen.