Finding a travel management service that will best meet the needs of your business can seem like a tall order. For the person whose shoulders the task falls upon, it can seem like an impossible task – everyone in the business has their own opinion and agenda, and considering the potential cost and time implications of a wrong decision can cause more than a few head-meets-desk moments.
We’ve enlisted the help of Click’s Senior Bid Manager, Gemma Ryder, to pull together the ultimate to do list for anyone looking to take on the task of finding the perfect travel management provider:
1. Get the boards buy in – Have a chat with each individual board member to discuss why you need to go to market, issues you have with your current travel management solution and the benefits that a new supplier will deliver at the beginning of the project, rather than the end – this approach increases the likelihood that the board will view your final decision more favourably.
2. Engage with key stakeholders – Organising your stakeholder list and familiarising yourself with their specific travel needs and challenges will allow you to focus on specific questions within the tender and understand how the potential supplier can aid with these specific requirements.
3. Plan in advance and set realistic timescales – Mapping out the project as far in advance as possible in order to develop a comprehensive plan and keep to deadlines is a critical part of the tender process, so it’s important to set realistic timescales in order for your key stakeholders to have sufficient time to read each response – if in doubt, overestimate!
4. Understand existing processes – Be sure to include all of the following in your tender; an overview and history of your organisation, an insight into your organisation’s culture, the reasons you are approaching the market, pain points and issues that you are experiencing currently, your spend profile and most common routes and reasons for travel. This will all help to ensure that your suppliers have a full understanding your requirements before you bring them on board.
5. Understand your organisation’s future requirements – It’s easy to focus on what is and isn’t working for you right now when looking for a new travel management solution, but it’s a good idea to consider whether those concerns will still stand in 1-3 years time. Taking the time to understand where your organisation’s future is headed will enable you to determine if your chosen TMC will be able to support you into the future – or will the requirement to go out to tender again arise sooner than you think?
6. Do your research – As with most things, a great way to find potential suppliers is to search online. Try searching for questions that relate to your objectives. For example, if you have set an objective of reducing your travel spend, search for “how can I reduce business travel spend”. This will help you find useful articles that are ideally suited to your organisation’s key interests – possibly provided by a potential supplier. For a more comprehensive guide to researching potential suppliers, click here.
7. Conduct pre-tender meetings or consider holding a Meet the Buyer Day – This is a great opportunity to bring your requirements to life and address any areas that require further clarification. By fully understanding your requirements you’re more likely to receive quality, well thought out responses. If you’re unable to conduct individual meetings due to time restraints, then consider a Meet the Buyer Day.
8. Issue a Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) or Request for Information (RFI) – PQQ’s or RFI’s are typically the first stage of a tender process and are essentially an information-gathering exercise to qualify suppliers for the next round. These usually consist of questions that cover the supplier’s credentials and financial information.
9. Issue an Invitation to Tender (ITT) – Keep it short and simple, and only ask questions that will help you decide which supplier(s) to appoint. There are many formats in which you may decide to issue a tender, whether that being via an online portal, or via a word document or Excel spreadsheet. Remember to give clear instructions on how you want bidders to respond; if all suppliers respond in the same format, it will make it easier for you to evaluate and quickly draw fair comparisons.
10. Allow a reasonable amount of time for completion – Allow between 2 – 4 weeks turnaround time, depending on the complexity of the requirements that were set out in your tender. Whilst a week-long turnaround for a simple RFI is achievable, for an ITT this short a turnaround time simply does not offer a prospective supplier a fair chance to tender for the business.
11. Share all clarification questions from all TMC’s – In order to streamline the process and avoid answering the same questions repeatedly, be sure to distribute all clarification questions to all prospective travel suppliers on email or by producing a document. This guarantees that everyone is privy to the same information and is therefore able to submit a bid that really is reflective of what they can offer.
12. Conduct shortlist presentations – A presentation is the final opportunity for a potential travel supplier to sell their solution in a compelling way before you make your decision. Be sure to let them know that they can bring relevant colleagues and team members with them, such as their Implementation Manager/and or Account Manager.
13. Visit potential providers offices – Paying a visit to the HQ of a potential supplier is a great way to get a feel for how they work and understand whether they’re a good cultural fit for your organisation. Meet the team you will be speaking to on a day to day basis, as well the senior team who will be actively involved in your account.
14. Offer feedback – Although it can be time consuming, it’s best practice to debrief both successful and unsuccessful suppliers, so they know what they did well and the areas they need to improve on for future bids. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from suppliers on your bid process to drive continual improvement.
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