Travel management is often prefixed with the word ‘corporate’, reflecting the focus of the industry as a whole; helping businesses and large corporations to manage their complex, and often costly, travel for business – but where does that leave charities and not-for-profit organisations?
The biggest problem with the procurement of travel management services for charitable or not-for-profit organisations is that many travel management companies (TMC) approach the delivery of their service from a corporate angle and do so with a one-size-fits all mentality, often ignoring the very unique requirements of organisations that undertake charitable work.
The fix for this corporate approach to travel management is to find a TMC that is really going to meet your requirements as a charity or NFP, rather than force you into a service that was made for businesses and corporations that hold vastly different goals from your organisation; this means finding a TMC that prioritises the importance of value and flexibility in the humanitarian sector. It may sound easier said than done, but there are certain services and tools that you can look out for during the procurement process, which would suggest that a TMC would be a great fit for a charity or NFP:
Exclusive humanitarian fares for charities and Not For Profits
As a charity or NFP organisation, making sure that you receive a high level of value from your selected travel management service is crucial and so during the procurement process it’s important to identify which TMCs will be able to offer you exclusive humanitarian fares.
These are sector-specific fares that provide unique options exclusively for charities and NFPs; these include increased baggage allowances and much greater flexibility with regard to changes and cancellations to cater for the often fast-changing situations that are typical of the charity sector.
Fulfilling duty of care with traveller tracking
Depending on the kind of work that your organisation carries out, you might find that your team have to travel to distant, remote or even potentially volatile locations. If that’s the case, then finding a TMC who can help your organisation to fulfil your duty of care obligations will be paramount.
Making sure that your travellers are safe and secure can be done in a variety of ways, but most charities or NFPs find traveller tracking tools to be invaluable should a situation require them. Not only can travellers feel safe in the knowledge that those back at home know exactly where they are, but the ability to contact travellers in the event of an emergency also provides peace of mind to those back in the office. As such, it’s worthwhile asking prospective TMCs about their processes and tools that are available in an emergency during the procurement process, so that you can really evaluate what would work best for your organisation.
Out-of-hours travel management service
Due to the very nature of charities and NFPs, you might find that it’s commonplace for travellers in your organisation to work outside of standard hours, or to travel to less-common destinations, thereby requiring your organisation to select a TMC that can offer round-the-clock support and guidance.
Owing to the fact that many TMCs are corporate in both approach and experience, it cannot be taken for granted that they all operate an out-of-hours support service and so enquiring into whether prospective TMCs can provide this early on in the procurement process is a smart move; talking to frequent travellers about instances in which they would have found a 24/7 service useful will also help.
Keeping track of travel spend
As a charity or NFP, ensuring that each donation or contribution goes as far as possible will, of course, be a priority and tracking how money is spent on necessary travel becomes even more important when it’s time to apply for funding or sponsorship.
Although most TMCs offer some sort of reporting service, this can often be charged as extra or only accessed during review meetings. Due to the fact that keeping track of expenditure and adhering to budgets is of paramount importance in the humanitarian sector, it’s a good idea to identify TMCs who not only offer management information as part of your contract, but who also give you the control you need when it comes to how often you can access reports and what information can be reported on.
Travel management companies that specialise in working with charities
Above all else, if you’re a charity or NFP seeking the services of a TMC then it’s best to first approach TMCs who are experienced in working with organisations that are similar to yours and who have case studies for you to look through and begin to gather a picture of the kind of service you would like.
Identifying TMCs who have already worked with charities and NFPs is made easier by the Charities Sector Procurement Group, which promotes the importance and relevance of procurement in the charities and not-for-profit sector. Its objectives are to raise professional standards and promote the development of best practice in order to help charities make their funding go further and if a TMC has been approved by the CSPG then it’s safe to say that your procurement process is working along the right lines.