Procurement departments are the Swiss Army knives of an organisation.
When there’s a problem that needs solving, whether that’s the need to reduce spend, time or noise, it’s the procurement and category managers that are called in to find and flick out the best fix in the form of a new supplier, software or tool.
But it’s useful to get a heads up on what those problems could be before they’re presented to you, isn’t it?
Particularly when it comes to business travel – stakeholder opinions on business travel can be strong and often emotional, especially when they concern traveller safety, booking behaviour or policy compliance.
At Click, we work with procurement departments and category managers at all stages of the procurement process and, as a supplier, we’re always keen to hear about the challenges that they face not only as a department, but also as an organisation. We’ve gathered together the 5 and a ½ most common problems that procurement departments are asked to solve when considering the services of a travel management company (TMC), as well as what to look out for in a TMC in order to be able to proudly announce that problem as fixed later down the line.
# 1 Improving travel policy compliance
Your organisation has put a huge amount of time and effort into crafting a corporate travel policy that aims to control how much money is being spent on travel, but are struggling to actually improve compliance, so the whole exercise feels a little redundant. The right TMC should offer you a multitude of ways in which you can control out of policy bookings (and therefore achieve an improved rate of compliance), typically ranging from a very soft approach right the way through to a hardline block on out of policy bookings.
To give you something to go on, we believe that the best practice for travel policy compliance is around 92%; any less suggests that you will likely be leaving savings on the table, whereas any higher could suggest that managers are approving travel they shouldn’t just to be able to tick it off on their task list.
# 2 Preventing travellers from booking on the Internet
You might be familiar with the phrase “…but I’ve found it much cheaper on the Internet!” – TMCs certainly are. Travellers in all organisations often believe that they can find much better deals on the Internet and it’s something that will cause some TMCs to run scared, offering explanations that suggest that online booking sites will tag on hidden charges later in the booking process.
So, with that in mind, it’s worth looking out for TMCs who actually embrace the cheaper rates that are made available on wellknown booking sites and incorporate these into the content they present to their clients as part of their service. Finding a TMC that offers a wide range of booking options not only reduces noise from unhappy travellers, but will also have a knock-on effect on policy compliance, as travellers will feel less inclined to search for the deals themselves and all travel can be made through your TMC.
# 3 Changing traveller and booker behaviour
Managing traveller behaviour is a huge challenge faced by travel managers and it’s something that is often highlighted to procurement departments during the procurement process – their goal to find a TMC who can change bad booking habits, in the hope that this will reduce travel spend.
Changing traveller and booker behaviour is something that really can reduce travel spend, but only with a TMC who are experienced in this area guiding the way. If last minute bookings and slightly too luxurious hotel stays are commonplace in your organisation then prioritise potential TMCs that demonstrate knowledge of best practice on how to tackle repeat out-of-policy bookers when it comes to compiling your potential supplier shortlist.
# 4 Access to data on business travel
Data is key to driving the changes that your stakeholders want to see; only by getting hands on with data that details what you’re spending, what you’re spending it on, and who is spending it will your stakeholders be able to gain real control of your organisation’s business travel, however too many TMCs keep this information under lock and key.
Easy access to comprehensive management information and reports on travel spend is something that your finance directors (and even managing directors or chief execs…) will certainly be interested in and is something that should definitely be highlighted when presenting supplier research and possibilities to them.
# 5 Ensuring traveller safety
This year concerns surrounding traveller safety have certainly grown; incidents of international unrest and terror have seemed more prevalent in our daily news digests than ever and as a result many a business traveller’s journey has been thrown into disarray.
All organisations have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of employees who are travelling for business and this is most likely at the forefront of the minds of your key stakeholders, particularly the travellers themselves. Look out for TMCs who can provide peace of mind for all involved by offering tools such as 24/7 traveller tracking software and specialist crisis management teams should any emergencies occur.
# 5.5 Learning about procuring travel management
For most procurement departments or category managers, the discovery that procuring a travel management service is actually very different from procuring other suppliers, such as stationery, can be a curveball. Identifying phases of the procurement process that vary from usual practices is the best way to find the right TMC for your organisation, but is something that many procurement professionals stumble across during the procurement process. We’ve pulled these differences together and compiled them in our comprehensive guide to procuring a travel management service – to download it, click the button below.