How to choose the right travel partner for your business
Tips on what to look for when selecting the right travel management company for your business
They say people ultimately choose to do business with people they like. That may be true for companies that have a more flexible approach to procurement, but in the world of travel management it’s often more to do with the bottom line than who plays a better game of golf.
Choosing the right travel management company (TMC) to support your company can often be a daunting and drawn-out process, especially when you struggle to differentiate between the services offered by each TMC, says Euan McNeil, general manager at FCM Travel Solutions South Africa, a division of Flight Centre Travel Group.
“The secret to finding the right match for you is to understand that what you put in, is what you get out,” says McNeil.
“By spending time shaping your request for proposal (RFP), you stand a much better of chance of receiving a meaningful proposal from TMCs that will help you select the best partner for your business.”
But having a tip-top RFP isn’t the only secret to picking the right travel management company. McNeil offers a few tips on what to look for when you’re in the selection process:
What’s behind the name?
There are many tried-and-tested brands with global influence in the travel management space. It is, however, important to look beyond the name and at the company’s cultures, business and goals.
Consider the company’s ownership structure and the knowledge and experience of its people. Do not be afraid to ask for references because selecting a TMC is not dissimilar to hiring a staff member. While things may look good on paper, the proof is in performance and being able to prove it.
Is the prospective TMC asking the right questions? You do not need a one-size-fits-all solution and if the company is really interested in your business, its team will want to get to know your business in-depth – your goals, your structure, your needs.
Important considerations in South Africa not only include a TMC's approach to B-BBEE and its approach to social responsibility but also its level of engagement with the local community and how this compares with your company’s approach.
Even beyond business, there is a need for the two companies to have a cultural fit so that you can rest assured your chosen TMC partner not only focuses on the job at hand, but also pays extra attention to detail to ensure your needs are understood and cared for. In other words, their success is your success.
Committed to service
A contract signed is a promise kept. You have to make sure that your chosen TMC will be held accountable for its level of service beyond the signing of a contract. Ask to see the TMC’s service level agreement (SLA) and understand the consequences of non-delivery.
Here are some minimum requirements for an SLA:
- The SLA outlines the minimum service level agreed upon and expected between the two companies.
- It will also give you clear guidelines to monitor performance by measuring the achievement of the agreed service levels.
- It is of utmost importance to agree on how and when the SLA will be measured, what data will be captured and how performance will be reported on.
- A good TMC will be able to provide you with examples of existing SLA agreements and reports.
Benefits of a Truly Global TMC
The right size
TMCs come in all shapes and sizes, which is another reason why you should look beyond a one-size-fits-all approach when selecting a travel management partner.
The right choice for your business will depend on the level of service and support you need.
If you are a multinational corporation, an added consideration may be whether to use a global, regional or local TMC. Most of the larger TMCs offer a branded global option, but local TMCs may also provide a worldwide solution through established networks. You’ll need to understand the extent to which you require on-the-ground assistance across borders when appointing a TMC partner.
Value vs fees
While you should not only be guided by pricing, there is value in thoroughly evaluating transaction fees to understand the pricing structures.
More importantly, remember that cheaper isn’t necessarily better in the long run.
Some key considerations concerning pricing structures include:
- Which procedures and systems does the TMC have in place when it comes to duty of care?
- What type of support is available to your travellers? Does the TMC offer 24/7 full-service support?
- Does the TMC understand the hidden costs that can be associated with travel procurement?
- Is it looking proactively and strategically at ways of reducing your costs?
- What level of proactive data analysis does it offer to help you make strategic decisions?
A partnership made in heaven is one where your travel management partner is driven to achieve your goals and take care of your travel needs so that you don’t have to.
Contact FCM Travel Solutions on 0877 40 5151 for your enterprise corporate travel requirements.
This article was paid for by FCM Travel Solutions.