Taking the first step
The first step in working with a travel management company (TMC) is to decide that, well, you need a travel management company. If you’ve always handled travel in-house, ask yourself: are you sure you’re getting the maximum amount of savings, leveraging preferred vendors and strategically negotiating contracts? Do you have all of the resources available to effectively manage and enforce your travel policy? Are your Duty of Care procedures up-to-date and effective? What about unused airline tickets? Are they effectively repurposed or do they go to waste? If you take a look at your organization’s travel costs and processes, as well as your booking and traveler tracking tools, you’ll find that it’s almost always more effective to partner with a travel management company versus working directly with suppliers. If you’re still on the fence, read the tell-tale signs that you need a TMC here.
If you’re already engaged with a TMC, maybe you aren’t seeing the optimal time and money savings, 24/7 customer service and greater efficiencies that you were promised. In this case, it’s time to shop around and make a change.
Finding the right match
Choosing someone to manage your company’s travel program requires careful research, due diligence and time. You’ll most likely communicate with multiple companies in order to find the perfect fit for your organization. When learning about different TMCs, look for the following:
Similar size & culture
Search for travel management companies that are a good fit for you both in size and culture. Ask about past clients, ensuring that they’ve worked with organizations of your size (no matter how big or small). If possible, conduct initial face-to-face meetings to ensure the TMC’s culture aligns with that of your organization.
The right capabilities
Typically, a need for greater efficiency, more sophisticated technology, more effective traveler tracking or general cost savings drives the decision to look for a TMC. Ask yourself: does this TMC offer what you set out to find? Are you confident that they can help you meet your goals? Evaluate the services and resources that the TMC offers and the fees associated with each one.
A fair price
Speaking of fees, are they competitive? Are you confident that the TMC can give you a strong ROI? For example, at Professional Travel, we aim for a 3:1 ROI, meaning for every dollar you spend with us, you can expect to save $3 on your corporate travel.
Travel policies and processes are not one-size-fits-all. Make sure the TMC offers a completely customized approach, taking into consideration your needs and goals, when crafting, implementing and managing your travel program.
Dedication to your organization
Will this TMC treat you as a valued client and partner? When you call with a question or an issue, will you receive a prompt and accurate response? Find a TMC that is focused on customer service and be sure that your organization will be assigned a dedicated account manager or point of contact.
Specialties and expertise
Look for a TMC that offers dedicated experts for each aspect of your business travel. For example, the same person who specializes in international travel may not be an expert in destination meeting planning.
Trusting someone with one of your company’s largest expenses — business travel — can be nerve-wracking, but with the right partner, you’ll see greater efficiency, cost savings and more satisfied travelers.