It’s everyone’s favourite time of year – exam season!
Whilst a summer filled with tests is probably a distant memory for most of us, and happily so, a good old fashioned exam never hurt anyone – especially your travel management company (TMC)!
When you’ve been working with a TMC for a while it’s easy to become used to them and readily accept the service that they offer, no questions asked – even if there is something that might be niggling you about their performance, whether that’s lack of access to your account manager, slow response times or even something as fundamental as rates that were once billed as ‘the cheapest’.
Whatever the reason, it’s wise to assess your TMC at regular intervals throughout your contract so that you can either have your confidence renewed, or perhaps begin to make plans to move elsewhere. Whether your TMC is worthy of an A* or a big fat U, you’ll never know unless you put it to the test. Here’s how:
1. Are their account managers proactive, or reactive?
Having an account manager who’s actively looking after you will provide clear benefits to both your bottom line and your organisation’s experience of business travel.
A proactive account manager will break down your management information (MI) data to provide recommendations that will enhance your overall travel strategy; for example, they will secure preferred rates with suppliers in any of the locations that your travellers visit frequently.
Finally, using their expert knowledge, they should also provide comprehensive review packs; these will consist of articulated recommendations based on trends and behavioral patterns that will help improve your organisation’s travel programme.
2. How easy to use is their online booking tool?
Having access to a simple online booking tool will organically boost your online adoption rate. This is a big win for your overall travel spend – booking the majority of your travel online will reduce the total amount your organisation incurs in transaction fees, as online booking transaction fees tend to be lower than offline ones.
Additionally, an easy to use online booking tool will help keep your bookers and travellers happy and productive, cutting down on time wasted trawling through multiple websites to find the cheapest option when booking travel.
3. How do they monitor their SLAs?
During your travel contract negotiation stage, you might have agreed to certain measurable SLAs with a TMC, which is great… But are they being fulfilled? Now’s the time to revisit these SLAs and hold an honest evaluation about whether they have been met.
A quick indication of how well a TMC is holding up their end of the bargain is whether they are actively measuring that data and whether they present it to you during your review meetings.
4. Are they really giving you the best rates available?
Every TMC in the world will claim that they can provide your organisation with the cheapest rates out there knowing full well that, if they’re appointed, you’re unlikely to check this periodically.
A compelling indicator of whether you’re getting the best deal can be found by looking at where they’re aggregating their content from. To ensure that you’re receiving the cheapest rates, your TMC should not only be aggregating their content from the traditional Global Distribution Systems, but also pulling content in from other booking channels such as Laterooms.com & Booking.com.
5. What are their customer retention and satisfaction rates?
Finding out theses rates will provide you with a telling overall picture of your TMC’s service credentials. If this percentage is high then you know your TMC is consistently delivering high levels of service. On the contrary, if this rate is low, you should be questioning exactly why that is – it might be worth asking around in order to find evidence and case studies that can shed some light on the level of service that your TMC operates.
6. Do they have any industry awards or accreditations?
There are certain accreditations that help indicate a bona fide first class TMC. Ideally, your TMC should have accreditations such as ISO 27001, 9001 & 14001, having these will validate your TMC’s commitment to providing you with the highest possible service, through having demonstrably high standards and procedures in regards to environmental management, quality management and information security.
Equally, what awards does your TMC have to show for its efforts? Whether they are industry specific or nationwide awards, if your TMC is able to demonstrate a number of key award wins, such external expert recognition should be a good indication of their standing.