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 in them 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. Check their performance against SLAs
Kick things off by revisiting the expectations that you had when you first started working with your TMC and consider whether they’ve been met. Back during your travel contract negotiation process, you will probably have agreed specific SLA’s with your chosen TMC – these should be measurable and are a key part to understanding whether a TMC is delivering what they originally promised.
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.
2. Check their rates (without benchmarking…)
Benchmarking only gives you a price at a particular given time, so it’s not really an accurate indicator when it comes to how competitive your TMC’s rates are.
A much more useful indicator would be to examine where exactly your TMC pulls their content from. If they rely solely on traditional Global Distribution Systems then that’s not the best sign – pulling content from other booking channels, such as Laterooms.com and Booking.com, allows for not only better rates, but also more choice for your travellers.
3. Consider how proactive your Account Manager is
Any Account Manager worth their salt should be proactive when it comes to meeting your organisation’s requirements and providing you with a beneficial service. Account Manager’s should be actively securing preferred rates with suppliers in any of the locations that your travellers are frequently using, as well as breaking down your management information data to provide recommendations that will enhance your overall travel strategy.
Responsiveness often comes hand in hand with proactivity and you should be hearing from your Account Manager regularly. Of course, not every organisation needs face-to-face contact all the time, but if tumbleweed is outweighing the talking then it’s worth questioning.
4. Consider how easy it is to book with them
Booking online using a simple booking tool is by far the easiest and most convenient way for most travellers to book their business travel and online adoption promises your organisation plenty of benefits.
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, so if you’re not already using one then perhaps ask your TMC why they don’t offer an online booking tool, or whether they have one in the pipeline…
5. Tally up complaints vs bookings
Measure the percentage of complaints versus bookings – if it’s more than 1% then that’s an automatic fail.
You should feel like your TMC values your feedback and experiences and whether they regularly survey their customers is a good indicator of this. If you’re able to get a hold of the results of the survey (in particular the verbatim feedback, rather than stats) then this will serve as a good guide to how happy clients are with their service.