Do your business travellers research and book their own trips?
Moving to a designated travel management company (TMC) and having a defined travel policy, preferred suppliers and accepted processes could save money and deliver travellers a better service.
Your boss is only ever likely to approve moving to a TMC if they are confident that it will deliver a net corporate benefit (e.g. reducing costs).
Key areas that are important to your boss
1. Processes and data collection
Standardised processes enable organisations to increase efficiency and minimise cost. This means collecting data, such as frequently used hotels or airline routes, in a consistent fashion which can be analysed to identify further opportunities.
2. Duty of care
Companies should take steps to limit their employees’ exposure to risk. To do this, it is helpful to have systems in place that let you know where your travellers are scheduled to be and to have back office processes in place so that you can react appropriately if/when needed.
3. Traveller value
Traveller recognition gives priority for rebooking in the event of travel disruption which can happen for many unpredictable reasons, e.g. volcanic disruptions or public disorder, as well as delivering benefits such as free WiFi and lounge access.
Using a TMC means being able to take advantage of lower rates and fares than you can obtain as a small company because of the large volume of business they do. If you spend a lot with particular suppliers, a TMC can help you negotiate a preferential corporate rate.
5. Content and time
Finding the right flight or hotel at the best price can be very time-consuming for individual travellers and can cost you in work productivity. A good TMC can not only offer a very wide range of content at competitive prices but it can target this to gain bigger discounts for delivering bigger market share to a supplier.
Flight been cancelled? Hours of delays? Missed connection? What do you do? Office hours are generally 9-5 but not for a travel booker who are on the job 24 hours a day. Unless you have a TMC. They deal with all of your travellers issues no matter the time or day, the traveller will be able to bypass the normal public queue and get through to an agent who can assist them within minutes.
To gain any of these benefits from having a TMC you first need a plan to convince a senior sponsor and then get company approval.
How to pitch to your boss
1. Understand your organisation
Some organisations can plan trips in advance, some make last minute bookings; some prioritise traveller comfort, others cost reductions. What kind of travel programme is right for your company? Where and how much will your company be travelling in the future? What are you looking for – lower rates and fares or higher service?
2. Collect data
You need data to demonstrate what is and what could be. If you don’t have a coherent system in place this can take some time but identify what numbers you need to build your case and where you might source them – HR records or expense reports for example –and then set up a process to collect, dice and slice it.
Talk to internal stakeholders – travellers, HR, security, IT, finance, purchasing – to find out what difficulties, if any, they have with the existing travel programme.
3. Define your objectives
The numbers and your stakeholders will tell you which areas – air, service, cost – and functions (better content, improved processes including data collection and traveller security), if any, to target for improvement and if so, where a TMC could deliver value.
4. Make your case
Work with internal stakeholders to create a programme and policy that works for your company and a senior sponsor to champion your initiative.
Demonstrate that any investment in time and money will be exceeded by the value that a TMC can deliver.
5. Get help from an expert to map things out
If in doubt, get advice from a specialist at a TMC. They will be able to support you and talk through the whole process including pros and cons for your boss.
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