Finding the right TMC for your business is crucial for your travel programme’s success. But once the selection process is complete, how do you ensure a smooth transition between your incumbent and your new TMC, whilst ensuring minimal impact on your travellers?
With deadlines to keep, technical solutions to design and complex stakeholder networks to manage, the implementation process can often feel like an impossible task before it’s even started. But it doesn’t have to be a painful process. After all, implementing a new TMC is a real opportunity to drive improvements in your travel programme and one you want to make the most of.
Over the years we’ve seen the good, the bad and ugly when it comes to TMC onboarding. We’ve seen what’s worked, what hasn’t and the common mistakes that can grind implementations to a halt. So, to help you remove the pain of change we’ve gathered our learnings and collated our top tips for a successful TMC implementation.
Six tips for implementing a new travel management company
1. Engage regional stakeholders and markets
When onboarding on a global scale, particularly if you are consolidating markets for the first time, engaging your regional stakeholders is essential. As a minimum, you should understand how your key markets will work and how they will receive the changes. But to give your implementation the best chance of success and avoid costly or time-consuming issues further down the line, you need a team on the ground who speak the local language, understand any cultural differences and can act as advocates. For an organisation to successfully change and transition to a new TMC, it’s critical that stakeholders first accept and then adopt the change, so having these advocates on the ground in all your markets will pave the way to a successful implementation.
2. Take a wide-angle view
Whilst implementing a new TMC can feel all-encompassing, the chances are it won’t be the only change happening in your company at any given time. Whether it’s the IT department moving to a new system or Finance changing credit cards, a lot can impact your travel programme so viewing the implementation project through a company-wide lens is essential. By understanding what else is going on across the business that could impact your travel programme and onboarding process, you can work with your new TMC to plan for, and avoid, any potential conflicts before they arise.
3. Manage the process with empathy
It can be easy to think of the onboarding process as primarily focusing on the technical solutions that require design and configuration. But there’s more to it – guiding your organisation through the human side of change can often be daunting, challenging and confronting. After all, the changes you are implementing may make business sense, but how ready is your organisation for them? Temperature checks and continuous employee feedback will allow you to manage the process with empathy, whilst following effective change management principles will help you counter any internal resistance to change.
At FCM our onboarding methodology follows the ADKAR® model - a 5-stage process developed by Prosci, the world-leading organisation on change management research. By focusing on Awareness of the need for the change, the Desire to participate and support the change, Knowledge of how to change, Ability to demonstrate new skills and behaviour and Reinforcement to sustain the change, our implementation teams and account managers help clients view the change journey through their employees’ eyes and facilitate a smooth transition that counters the natural resistance to change.
4. Keep your success goals in mind
Even the best laid plans can go awry, particularly when dealing with a complex, multi-national implementation. So whether you need the core foundations of your travel programme ready by a hard deadline, or have the flexibility to address and alleviate pain points from the get-go, it’s important to have clearly defined success goals from the outset and not lose sight of them amongst the minutiae and details of the project. After all, the world is complex and not everything will move at the speed you might like!
5. Assemble the right people
Onboarding relies on input from multiple departments and stakeholders, from IT and Finance to HR and executive travel bookers. The most successful implementations have a project lead from within the client’s organisation who can tap into these knowledge sources across the business, feedback and help drive the changes forward.
However, it’s not a once sided relationship - a good TMC will guide you through the process and undertake much of the onboarding workload. At FCM our implementation teams comprise of technical, project management, and design experts who work cohesively with our clients on the onboarding of their travel programme. Our account managers own the overall customer relationship and act as driver of the various change management activities.
6. Have the building blocks in place
Don’t risk your implementation griding to a halt by not having the right building blocks in place from the outset. A smooth implementation is dependent on reliable and accurate information, so as soon as your TMC selection process is finalised, start assembling the below to share with your new TMC:
- Profile data – Have a clear understanding of how your profile data works and how to give it to your new TMC
- Forms of payment – Know the various payment methods in all your markets, and have a clearly defined way of paying for travel
- Legal entity structure – Have a thorough understanding of your legal entity structure and explain it clearly to your TMC; by over-simplifying a complex structure you run the risk of an end-solution that isn’t fit for purpose
By having these building blocks in place and helping your new TMC get a holistic view of your booking ecosystem, they can start developing solutions that meet your business’ travel needs and success goals.
Removing the pain of change with FCM
At FCM, we take a flexible, scalable and customisable approach to change management that’s designed to meet your business’ unique needs; our framework is built on driving outcomes rather than following rigid processes. From analysing your stakeholder engagement needs to tracking and measuring adoption criteria, we combine globally recognised methodology with best practice communication and messaging components to create a compelling, exciting message of change for your organisation.
Contact us now to get your Travel program moving!