You name it, I’ve seen it…
…when it comes to tenders for travel management, of course.
The unique cultures and ways of operating that exist within every organisation mean that no two travel management tenders are ever the same. Each tender features an array of very specific travel requirements and during the course of my 3 ½ years as a bid manager I’ve come to really understand just how keen organisations are for these requirements to be met – and how frustrated they can feel when they don’t receive the response that they were hoping for.
So, with that in mind, here’s a short guide to pulling together the perfect travel management tender; a tender that makes the best use of both yours and your potential travel management companies’ (TMC) time, whilst all the while ensuring that you find a travel supplier that’s the best fit for your organisation.
Conduct pre tender meetings or Meet the Buyer days
As the person who will be writing the response to your tender, a bid manager should make it their mission to find out as much about your organisation as possible; this includes taking the time to truly understand your goals, objectives and ‘pain points’ so that they can deliver the best travel management solution.
Conducting pre-tender meetings is the best way for you to provide bid managers, and the rest of the team at your prospective TMC, with a comprehensive understanding of your organisation, which will in turn lead to receiving more informative proposals later on in the procurement process.
If you’re unable to conduct individual meetings due to time restraints, then consider a Meet the Buyer day. I attended one of these earlier on in the year, which saw a number of TMC’s attend the day hosted by the Senior Category Manager, along with key stakeholders from the organisation – it was invaluable when it came to writing the (contract-winning!) proposal.
Allow a reasonable amount of time for completion
Prospective suppliers will usually be working on multiple bids at any one time and so therefore have to prioritise and distribute workloads in order to meet deadlines set out by buyers – often this means prioritising the bids that they believe they have the best chance of winning.
Allow between 2 – 4 weeks turnaround time, depending on the complexity of the requirements that were set out in your tender. Whilst a week-long turnaround for a simple RFI is achievable, for an ITT this short a turnaround time simply does not offer a prospective supplier a fair chance to tender for the business. So, if there’s a particular TMC that you’re leaning towards then be sure to give them a reasonable deadline in order to receive a favourable response.
Share all clarification questions from all TMC’s
Clarification questions are an ideal opportunity for bid managers and prospective TMCs to ensure that they have enough information to produce a compelling proposal, as well as ensuring that the partnership is commercially beneficial for all parties, minimising the risk of wasted time.
In order to streamline the process and to avoid answering the same questions repeatedly, be sure to distribute all clarification questions to all prospective travel suppliers on email or by producing a document. This guarantees that everyone is privy to the same information and is therefore able to submit a bid that really is reflective of what they can offer.
Be specific about your expectations
I have on occasion received tenders that are too vague in laying out the incredibly specific requirements of an organisation – these are a surefire way to waste both your time and the time of prospective TMCs.
Although you might think that saving some of your most unique requirements for later on in the procurement process will ensure that you receive numerous responses, it does mean that you might spend time in discussions with a prospective supplier who, when it comes down to it, can’t fulfil your requirements.
Express what is / isn’t working for you currently
The questions that I find myself asking buyers most frequently are “What would a better travel booking experience look like for your organisation? What are the main issues with your current arrangement?” – both questions result in answers that are incredibly useful when crafting a proposal.
Although detailing this information within an RFP may seem risky, particularly if your incumbent is taking part in the bid process, being explicit about what is and isn’t working currently enables prospective TMCs to state how they can overcome and resolve these issues for you.
And on that cliffhanger…
The second part to this guide on how to submit the perfect travel management tender will be published soon, but in the meantime you can click the button below to access more procurement and travel management advice, insight and information