As with any partnership, finding the right partner means finding a perfect fit.
The right travel management company (TMC) should be able to hit the mark on criteria specific to you and your travellers. That’s why find the right TMC for your organisation can be such a huge task.
It’s never just a question of financials; there are numerous intangible factors that will play a big part in the relationship you go on to have with your TMC.
So before you’re put off the procurement of a TMC completely, we’ve whittled down how to measure and compare TMCs to 7 easy areas.
Easier said than done, you might think. How do you measure a business travel agent’s culture? Well, clues can be found, for example, on the TMC’s website. Here you should be able to get a good idea of their ideas, beliefs, values, philosophy and company mission statement, giving you a better idea of what’s important to them and how they conduct their business. Speak to existing clients, if possible, you’ll soon find out about their approach and their priorities and whether they match up with your own. If they do, this could be a perfect match for a fruitful working relationship.
Are they bucking the trend by maintaining their current business along with gaining new accounts? Many TMCs focus on their new business exploits, but it’s worth considering that retaining business is the true test of any business’s service. To help you gauge their efforts, you may want to request case studies to see what they are doing right for their incumbent clients.
Does the TMC have preferred suppliers and how would this impact your costs? Will your organisation benefit from these relationships with preferential rates, added benefits etc.? Or could this mean your TMC would only offer you travel through certain suppliers, leaving you without access to the best rates in the marketplace? Getting to grips with how your prospective TMC offers you travel can really help you understand their position in the marketplace.
- Booking tool
A key area, as this will reflect the day to day experience of your bookers and travellers. Potential TMCs should be ready to really show off their bookings tool as it’s the perfect time to shine. Do they own their own technology platform, allowing updates and features to be quickly added to the system? Do the offline team use the same booking platform when making bookings, ensuring that your bookers have visibility of all the booking made?
Equally, ease of use will always be high on your wishlist, so make sure to ask for a live demo to see exactly how the system will work. Don’t settle for a pre-recorded demo, always insist on seeing the system live and unedited.
- Staff skill set
The staff working on your account may depend on the mix of travel your company would be booking. Your TMC should be able to offer an effective blend of talents, experience and abilities and match the skills required.
Ask who specifically would be working with your organisation, even arrange a meeting if possible – this is a great way to see the human side of a TMC and to get an idea for the potential in the working relationship.
- Change management
It’s a good test of a TMC’s communications skills to have them explain exactly how they’ll deal with the all-important implementation period in a way that suits your organisation – you’ll soon see who adopts a ‘one size fits all’ approach and who is more adaptable.
For example, what resources do they make available to your end users? Guides, videos, training sessions? Also, does the TMC have a team of consultants who can help as your users get to know the booking process? How can they be contacted – online chat, email and phone? The answers to these questions will help you get an idea of how helpful and accommodating the TMC will be to your needs as your begin the partnership.
- Added extras
Now it’s time to see what other benefits you can get out of them.
- Saving money – Will the TMC offer you multiple booking channels allowing more choices and more competitive rates and fares? Will they aggregate content from across the web, rather than just rely on traditional GDS channels?
- Total visibility – Will your TMC provide total visibility of all your bookings in real time? Will you be able to locate your staff anytime, helping you take care of your duty of care responsibilities?
- MI Data – How will your Account Manager help you interpret management information and guide you towards cost savings in your business travel programme?
Ultimately, only when you work with a TMC can you truly understand that company’s approach and offering in its entirety, but, by bearing in mind the points above, you can help give yourself the very best chance of picking the perfect match for your organisation.
That final decision on a new TMC can mean the difference between your organisation saving money and time, or being mired in extra expense and wasted hours, so be sure to tackle the areas mentioned here when you need to get to grips with any potential travel management companies and take your time to find the right fit.