The process of procuring a new travel management company (TMC) is over. Research has been done, tenders have been written, presentations have been sat through and final decisions have been made – so, what’s next?
Well your next mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get the show on the road and actually implement your chosen TMC. Creating a smooth transition between your current business travel situation, whether that’s DIY or using another TMC, and your new travel supplier can be challenging; there are timelines to plan, key stakeholders to coordinate and agreements to be made – all of which can feel like a hefty heap of tasks to wade through before the finish line is even in sight.
At Click we have our very own team of implementation experts on hand to guide each of our clients through the implementation process when they start working with us, ensuring that their relationship with Click begins in the best possible way.
Our implementation team have pulled together a list of essentials for travel managers, procurement departments and key stakeholders to consider when introducing a new TMC to an organisation in order to cut through that task list and get to the good stuff:
#1 Identify the project owner
In our experience, identifying an enthusiastic, well-organised project owner right from the start of the implementation process is the key to really driving the project forward. It’s so easy to let a project go to the bottom of the pile when no one is directly responsible for seeing it through to the finish, so it’s well worth it to ‘designate a driver’ and make sure the project owner is fully on board from the beginning.
#2 Engage your stakeholders
Your implementation is going nowhere fast without the support of your key stakeholders. Think about which parts of the organisation are involved in the process of booking or managing travel e.g. human resources, finance, IT, travel bookers and travellers to name just a few. Engage these people throughout and listen to their ideas – with their input and support, it will be much easier to get buy in from the rest of the organisation, which in turn will help to boost online adoption and policy compliance rates.
#3 Agree your payment solution
If you are unsure of the best payment solution to meet your needs, discuss this with your TMC. There are numerous solutions out there from credit accounts to credit cards or a mixture of the two. Although it might seem like something that can be done much later in the process, confirming a payment solution that best fits your organisation as soon as possible is a smart move, as rolling this out in tandem with your new supplier will make your life much easier.
#4 Review your business travel policy
Implementing a new way of booking travel is the perfect opportunity to review your current business travel policy. It’s a great chance to test the proactivity and expertise of your chosen TMC and get their opinion on how your policy could be improved. Whether you’re staging a complete overhaul, or are just making a few tweaks where needed, launching your new policy alongside your new travel management provider makes perfect sense – you’ll be receiving the support you need to enforce it and you’ll know that your strategy and policy are perfectly aligned.
#5 Collate supplier contracts
Find details of all your supplier contracts, such as hotel corporate rates and airline route deals, and reach out to key areas of the business that may have negotiated something locally. Your TMC should be able to maintain existing corporate rates (as well as negotiate to improve them), but it’s worth briefing them fully in order to make sure that all deals can be booked through your new service.
#6 Share your data
Collating the last 12 months worth of business travel data so that it’s ready to share with your new provider is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to preparing for the implementation process. This data will give your new TMC an insight into your travel trends and allow them to analyse your booking behaviour so they can make recommendations on best practice and can also customise your training based on what features and services your bookers are likely to use the most.
#7 Define cost allocation
Get a head start on what financial data will be required in order to process your supplier invoices effectively by talking things through with your finance department – these will include things such as cost centres, departments and nominal codes. If you include your finance department in the process from the beginning then you’ll help to ensure that your new TMC are able to handle requirements and put correct processes in place from day one.
#8 Gather employee data
Gathering basic employee data in preparation for implementing your new TMC is the best way to speed up the process. Your new supplier will need data, such as contact details and travel requirements/preferences, in order to create traveller profiles when setting up your organisation’s access to their online booking tool.
#9 Plan your internal communications
Having a clear, thought out plan for the internal communications that will update travellers of changes as your new TMC gets started is a smart way to ensure that the whole organisation stays fully informed. Ensure that your communications match the timeline that your new TMC has planned ahead of time and use these updates as a way of building momentum and gathering support from key stakeholders across your organisation.
Although the implementation process can be challenging, it’s best to see it as a chance to really get to know your new TMC and to give them the chance to get to know your organisation and its travellers, all making for a stronger, more harmonious relationship in the future.
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