There are times in life when playing coy will work to your advantage – procuring a new travel supplier, however, is not one of them.
When looking for a new travel management company (TMC), it can be tempting to send out an RFP that is slightly more vague and then to wait and see what kind of offerings you receive in response, understandably assuming that this approach will give you more options to choose from.
However, the risk with this approach is that you’ll most likely receive generic, one-size-fits-all responses from prospective suppliers as they won’t know enough about your current business travel issues, requirements and aspirations in order to provide you with a tailored response that is relevant to your organisation.
So, I thought I would use my experience as a Bid Manager to your advantage and share what it is that your potential travel suppliers would really like to know about your current business travel situation:
What’s your current spend?
Providing a breakdown of your current spend, organised by travel type, gives potential suppliers an idea of the types of travel that your organisation uses most frequently, as well as any preferred locations/routes. Prospective suppliers can then use this information to tailor their presentation or bid towards your particular needs and focus on what’s unique about their offering. This may include the wide variety of content that they can provide access to, negotiation of rates/preferred programmes or booking functionality etc.
This type of data also enables TMCs to carry out a savings analysis of how much you can save in time and money by choosing them – it’s a great way to compare what the potential suppliers can each do for you on a very practical level.
What’s your current approach to travel management?
All potential travel suppliers will want to know exactly what your organisation’s current approach to travel management is; are you new to using a TMC? Are you looking to switch from central bookers to self-bookers? What issues are you currently experiencing?
These questions can be difficult or awkward to answer if you have an incumbent supplier and don’t want to give too much away about the issues that you’ve experienced in using them, but being as honest as possible really helps to focus your potential supplier’s mind as to how they can most help you to resolve your issues.
What are your priorities?
Every procurement department’s priority list will understandably feature cost reduction and cost avoidance, but an increasing number of organisations are prioritising goals that don’t always centre around savings.
For example, your organisation may wish to place importance on the safety of lone travellers, or access to a wider variety of hotels. Most organisations have priorities that are unique to them and if you make potential suppliers aware of them, you will be able to measure who can meet them most effectively.
What are your must haves vs. your nice to haves?
It’s worth being prepared for the fact that your ‘perfect’ travel supplier may choose to ‘no bid’ if they feel that they can’t provide a number of functionalities or needs that your RFP has specifically stated as a ‘must have’.
Although this can be disappointing, it really would be a waste of both yours and the potential supplier’s time to get so far into the process and realise that they can’t provide you with all of your ‘must haves.’ At this point, it may be worth revising your ‘must haves’ – could you be more flexible with these? It would be a shame to miss out on the perfect partnership, if these are actually things you could live without in the name of outstanding service, increased efficiencies and notable cost savings.
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