There is something about the word ‘corporate’ that conjures up images of cold, impersonal service, but when it comes to your experience of corporate travel management the complete opposite should be true.
The people that you come into contact with at your travel management company (TMC) should feel like an extension of your own organisation and developing a great relationship with your Account Manager is one of the best ways to ensure that, as an organisation, you’re really seeing tangible benefits from using a TMC.
However, finding the time to really nurture a working relationship in amongst the demands of the day-to-day grind can be difficult, so here’s some food for thought on how to make sure that you get the very best out of your Account Manager:
1. Share your objectives
If your Account Manager is to help you achieve your business travel goals then they should have a real understanding of your organisations objectives and plans for the future, as this will enable them to develop a travel management strategy that will fit your organisation as it grows, delivering continuous improvement. Savings are likely to make up a big part of the picture, but traveller satisfaction, duty of care, reporting and driving efficiency improvements for areas such as HR or finance can also be just as important to a travel management strategy.
2. Keep them up to date
Regularly checking in with your Account Manager to update them with what’s happening in your organisation is a really good idea and will ensure that you’re getting the best service from them. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in reviewing what’s already happened but falling into a cycle of being months behind, and only updating after the fact, can be detrimental to your long term travel management strategy, as it prevents your organisation from being able to maximise savings and efficiency opportunities. It’s well worth getting into the habit of sharing as much detail as possible about upcoming projects, acquisitions, etc.
3. Introduce them to key stakeholders
If you’re looking to get changes actioned more quickly then make sure that your Account Manager is liaising directly with key people – if they’re not, then introduce them to key stakeholders within your organisation so that they have a direct contact with which to push through change. For example, it might be that your Account Manager needs to be in close contact with project managers so that they can get an early heads up on travel requirements before new projects start, or the head of HR if they feel it’s important to have a smooth starters and leavers process in place.
4. Take advantage of their knowledge
Ensure that your Account Manager is sharing their knowledge with you – this includes knowledge of the business travel industry as a whole, as well as specific knowledge of your organisation’s travel policy and behaviour changes. The business travel industry is changing so rapidly that having a good bank of contextual knowledge in which to set your organisation’s approach to travel is a smart move, as it will allow you to understand how the advent of initiatives such as NDC, for example, could impact your organisation.
5. Don’t be afraid to use your Account Manager
It can be easy to get caught up in your never ending to-do list and assign a lot of tasks a “I’ll get to that later” status, but don’t forget that your Account Manager is always on hand to help. Your Account Manager is a great source of information on all things travel and if you need a hand with a report or need to understand terminology you’ve been sent then don’t feel worried about asking to run it by them. A good Account Manager will be happy to give a helping hand on a whole range of travel related tasks.
6. Get dates in the diary
This might seem like a straightforward thing to do but time can often be rare commodity and so it’s always beneficial to get dates for reviews booked in advance so that you and your Account Manager aren’t struggling for time when a review is urgent…
Developing a great relationship with your TMC Account Manager, and your TMC in general, won’t happen overnight and will require a certain amount of effort from both parties, but once achieved it really will make all the difference to how quickly you make progress towards achieving your business travel goals.
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