What happens when you’ve done the work, pulled together a great RFP detailing exactly what your organisation is looking for and you sit back waiting for an onslaught of bids from your shortlisted suppliers, only to be greeted with a surprise ‘no bid’ response?

First, you put your head down on your desk. That would be the most common reaction.

It’s easy to assume that the sole aim of any travel management company (TMC) is to make money and, as a result, it can seem unlikely that they would ever turn down the chance of winning new business and making more money. However, TMCs can decide to no bid an RFP for a variety of reasons and as a procurement professional it’s in your best interest to get a handle on what these reasons could be and how best to avoid falling victim to a no bid.

The best way to do this is to try and peer behind the often impenetrable gates that guard TMCs. Click Travel is no stranger to receiving RFPs – we’re also no stranger to answering them with a no bid response. In order to give you a greater insight into the thought processes that begin once an RFP or tender pack is received, we’ve detailed the questions that we ask our organisation upon receiving a tender and also the practical action that procurement departments and category managers can take in order to prevent a no bid response.

1. Buyer/Supplier relationships during the procurement process

TMC/Supplier – Do we have a relationship and/or do we have any additional background knowledge as to the review requirements of the company? If the answer is no, then we are left with whatever information we are provided with and are at the mercy of the scoring mechanism with which a buyer has chosen to utilise to shortlist. Combine that with the fact the buyer may have previously met with other suppliers and any TMC is unlikely to feel confident that they will make it to pole position…

Buyer – Consider whether it would be worthwhile to arrange pre-tender meetings with all prospective parties so that you’re able to get an idea of exactly what it is that the TMC has to offer and whether your organisations share common values. An added benefit of doing this is that, based on suitability, you can often cut down the number of TMCs you invite to bid, saving you valuable time and money.

2. Bid team resources

TMC/Supplier – Do we have the resource to put together a compelling response? How many other bids do we have in at the same time? Although on paper a 2-3 week turnaround time for submission of a bid response may seem sufficient, the fact that TMC bid teams are usually working on multiple bids at any given time is often overlooked. When numerous bid requests all come in together, TMCs will then have to decide how best to utilise the resources of their bid team.

Of course, if a TMC doesn’t have the resources to submit a response right then, but would like to in the future then they can ask for an extension on the submission date depending on the flexibility of the buyer. Failing this, they might need to return a ‘no bid’ response simply down to the fact that there is insufficient time and resource to be able to complete the exercise to a high standard.

Buyer – If you really want certain TMCs to respond or you want to benefit from maximum choice, think about allocating more than enough time for them to take part and do justice to their response. You may also want to build in some flexibility to your timelines in the event a submission deadline extension is requested.

3. Benchmarking when procuring a travel supplier

TMC/Supplier – Does the bid involve a benchmarking exercise and how involved and time consuming is this likely to be? Over the years Click Travel have received all sorts of complicated RFPs; the most convoluted requests have included hundreds of combinations of quotes (usually so that comparison exercises can be carried out later on), which results in a much more time consuming completion process for the TMC in question.

Buyer – It’s worth considering what are you trying to ascertain from a benchmarking exercise. If you’re looking for reassurance that you will be able to access the best rates and fares then why not also request live demo login details, so that you can sample their self booking tools for yourself.

4. Assessing cultural fit during procurement

TMC/Supplier – Does this feel like a good cultural fit? Is this buyer within our target market? If a TMC feels they can’t meet some of the buyer’s core requirements, that the contract would not be commercially viable and/or they don’t feel they have a reasonably good chance of being successful, it may not be the best use of their bid team’s resource to submit a response.

Buyer – Think carefully about the requirements that you set out in your RFP or tender pack. Be clear about whether these are desirable or essential as this could make a huge difference to who submits a response to your tender. However, it is well worth being flexible with your approach – you may be focused on the specificity of a requirement when in actual fact there is a more creative, innovative strategy that could give you the same end result.

5. Providing correct information during tender process

TMC/Supplier – Not all bids provide TMCs with the kind of information that they would like to know in order to put together a compelling response. A TMC’s list of things that they’d most like to know about a buyer include current situation and issues; key goals; desire for change; weighting of the scoring for each area of the RFP; how many suppliers are included in the process; shortlist presentation dates and breakdown of travel spend by travel type.

Buyer – Think about the information that you’re planning to share and what your prospective suppliers can deduce from it so that they can provide a tailored response.

More practical procurement advice…

When you’re on the home straight to finding the right supplier for your organisation it’s tempting to try and speed the process up – to switch into auto-pilot, do what you’ve always done and get to the end result. However, it’s at this stage of the procurement process that it’s best to slow down and invest an appropriate amount of time and thought into your RFP and the processes that surround it. Doing this really will ensure that you benefit from the very best responses, making you better informed to make the all important final decision.

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About the Author:

Alice is Click Travel’s Content Coordinator and is responsible for all of our digital and print content, packaging up and presenting the wealth of expertise at Click in a way that works for you.