[We won’t keep you on the edge of your seats any longer – here’s the second installment of Bid Manager, Gemma Ryder’s guide to submitting the perfect travel management tender. a tender that makes the best use of both your and your potential travel management company’s(TMC’s) time, all the while ensuring that you find a travel supplier that’s the best fit for your organisation.
If you missed part 1 then then never fear, you can catch up right here.]
The 3 C’s Capability, Culture and Cost
Although cost will usually be top of mind for any organisation that is looking to take on a new supplier, it’s worth bearing in mind that cost can always be negotiated, whereas the crucial elements of capability and culture cannot and therefore these should be paramount in your decision making process.
When it comes to capability, most TMCs ensure that they stay competitive and so it’s unlikely that you’ll find a TMC that can’t meet your requirements, however culture is much less objective and as such it’s much more challenging to find the right match. At Click, we actively encourage potential clients to visit our offices so that they benefit from meeting our travel team and senior leadership team in person – do not underestimate how much a site visit can inform the decision making process later on down the line.
Make sure you have got the Board’s and key stakeholders’ buy in before you go out to tender
It can be tempting to wait until everything is almost final before presenting your decision to the board or key stakeholders at your organisation; it’s often hard to get everyone together and it might feel as if it’s actually slowing the procurement process down. However, by choosing not to get buy in before you go out to tender, you are actually risking your new contract being vetoed, landing you back at square one – I’ve seen it happen!
If you’ve identified a need to source a new supplier, don’t wait until you’ve found one to inform the relevant people in your organisation. Make each individual board member aware of why you need to go to market, the issues you have with the current solution and the benefits a new supplier is likely to deliver. If the board sign off on the project at the beginning, they are much more likely to view your final decision more favourably.
The most common misconception about the process of procuring a new travel supplier is that benchmarking will give you an accurate reflection of pricing – ***NEWSFLASH*** it won’t. Due to the ever-changing prices and deals that make up travel management, a TMC can easily complete a benchmarking exercise by entering unrealistically low prices, safe in the knowledge that organisations will a) never book the travel or b) the TMC can tell an organisation that prices have changed since the exercise was first completed.
If benchmarking plays a significant part in your procurement process then I’d recommend undertaking the task yourself, rather than handing things over to your potential suppliers; getting access to their online booking tool and finding prices for yourself is the only way to know that you really are getting accurate information on which you can base the final decision.
It’s worth mentioning that the aim of any benchmarking exercise should be to discover which TMC will give you the best value for money at the best overall cost; this will most likely result from balancing cost, quality, delivery, performance and risk.
Supply as much information about your existing travel programme as possible
Sharing as much information as possible about your current travel situation, including your travel policy and management information will allow bidders to really tailor their proposals – not only does this benefit them, but it also gives you a realistic impression of what they will be able to offer your organisation, particularly in way of policy recommendations or data analysis.
Also, providing potential suppliers with detailed information often minimises the amount of clarification questions you will receive back from them and so really helps to speed the process up and make the most of your time.
Invite a range of organisations to be part of the process
Some procurement departments only send RFPs to suppliers who they’ve worked with in the past or who feature as one of the Top 20 TMCs – although this is kind of understandable, it’s also a mistake!
Following this line of thinking will mean that you’re at risk of missing out on the opportunity of working with innovative suppliers, as well as smaller TMCs who can offer a personalised service that just cannot be replicated by larger organisations. Take the time to do your research, invite incumbents and then a good mix of strong contenders and wildcards to bid.
Advance planning and set realistic timescales
In my experience, the timescales that are advised at the beginning of a tender are rarely met, with organisations often underestimating just how much time they need to thoroughly evaluate all of the proposals that they receive and feel confident in their final decision.
Advance planning to develop a comprehensive plan and keeping to deadlines is a critical part of the tender process and so it’s important to set realistic timescales in order for your key stakeholders to have sufficient time to read each response – if in doubt, overestimate!
As with most things, it’s impossible to pull together a fail-safe plan to ensure that the process of procuring a new TMC runs entirely smoothly, however this advice will stand you in good stead to find and select the right travel supplier for your organisation. For more procurement and travel management advice, insight and information, click the button below: