Asia’s travel market is booming, yet 90% of business trips booked in the region are still unmanaged, in other words not bound by company policy, using preferred suppliers, tools or subject to compliance requirements.
Of the remaining 10% (and growing) of trips that are managed, more and more are being managed by Travel Management Companies (TMCs) because of the transparency they bring to spend; the booking tools and platforms they provide and the buying power they wield.
And yet, TMCs are about so much more than simply booking flights, hotels or hire cars to enable your colleagues get from one place to another.
A TMC should be a key business partner that delivers quantifiable value making your travel budget go further and ensuring that your travellers are safe, secure, healthy and productive.
The value of working with a TMC can be quantified in many ways, from cost savings, user satisfaction and traveller safety to time-saving processes, greater visibility of spend and even employee engagement.
Twenty-first century travel management is about trusting travellers to book using an approved process and policy, and making it simple for them to do so. It is about allowing travellers see what they’re allowed to spend and making informed choices based on those options, giving finance visibility of how and where company money is being spent. Finally, it is about creating a process that works and meets everyone’s needs.
So where does the TMC fit in, and how can travel managers ensure they leverage maximum value from its TMC relationship? Here are five tips to ensure those outcomes.
- Set clear and realistic objectives. These might include reducing the average hotel room rate, increasing online adoption or making your travel spend more visible. By limiting the number of objectives you should begin to see the returns fairly quickly, giving you a platform on which to build.
- Engage with all key stakeholders to ensure the objectives you set your TMC meet the needs of the entire business. Keep nothing from, and stay in close contact with the TMC implementation manager, and above all keep the wider business involved throughout the implementation period.
- Always be open to new ideas and suggestions from the TMC; their knowledge and experience with other client organizations will deliver cost and time savings, especially when it comes to driving online adoption or driving policy compliance. For example, new tools – often powered by Artificial Intelligence - are being developed all the time to improve and personalize the traveller experience; your TMC can ensure those tools are accessible to your travellers in a secure online environment.
- Getting maximum value from your TMC will be impossible if your travel policy and approval workflows are cumbersome or don’t provide a wide enough options for travellers to meet their business and personal needs.
- Working with a TMC doesn’t mean not working closely with your suppliers. Having a flexible policy also enables your TMC to take advantage of the special deals that crop up without taking travellers outside policy.
Above all, the key to a successful TMC relationship lies in ensuring that the goals of customer and supplier are completely aligned.
Your TMC should be a perfect fit for your organisation; able to save you time and money; provide 24/7 support if required; help drive policy compliance amongst your travellers and provide the right combination of technology and human support.