The diamond in the rough – five reasons to choose FCM
Over the past three weeks, we have guided you through the often complicated and time-consuming process of searching for a new Travel Management Company (TMC) and preparing a robust Request for Proposal (RFP).
Now, as a top, award-winning global travel management company, we'd like to tell you why FCM is the right TMC for you.
When you place your trust in us as a home for this critical area of spend, you will find us to be a reliable partner, always focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of your people when travelling while maximising your efficiencies, cost-savings and Return on Investment.
Here are five reasons why FCM makes the perfect TMC to do travel business with.
FCM is globally-local
Many companies have faith in us as their single TMC because we operate on a global scale but with local consistency. Our client portfolio features some of the world's leading corporate brands at multinational, regional and national levels across every industry sector. Not all TMCs have in-country teams like FCM, we boast a presence in more than 90 countries with 8,000+ experienced travel professionals on hand to meet your needs 24/7. Our teams speak more than 25 languages and this on-the-ground expertise is fully-backed by the global reach and consistency of service levels, technology, reporting and compliance. Our global reach means we can deliver savings because we can negotiate unique offers and specially-negotiated FCM fares. We are recognised globally as the World's Leading Travel Management Company at the World Travel Awards. We have also won dozens of other accolades including many that recognise the people at the heart of our business.
Personalised to what you need
At FCM, nothing we do is off-the-shelf. We offer the greatest value and the most reliable business travel services by continually moulding our approach to your specific and developing travel requirements. We work hard to understand your industry as well as we know our own; we have customers in specialist sectors that require truly tailored services as well as more main stream businesses with huge volumes. From Marine and Offshore to Mining and Resources, legal, pharmaceutical and banking there isn’t a limit on our capabilities. We can also deal with your visa and immigration needs as well as consolidate your meetings and events spend for greater ROI on your travel budget. Our technology and great customer service recognises, and then anticipates, traveller behaviour giving the power to our account management team and you as a business the power to make more informed and better financial decisions in approaching your travel programme. As the cost of attracting and retaining talent rises for the world's employers its important you work with a TMC that has your travellers at the forefront of their minds as well as effectively managing your needs.
Focus on data that drives your business
Data strategy is a key priority for travel managers and TMCs alike with buyers looking to their TMCs to capture the full spectrum of travel booking data, regardless of where or how the travel has been booked or arranged. Many travel managers struggle to get comprehensive, accurate data and this is often something we tackle to help make a big decisions around policy, sourcing and spend more streamlined. As a global TMC, FCM is able to gather, integrate, analyse and interpret local data on a global scale, ensuring our clients’ programmes not only benefit from accurate data but from insight into how we can help you improved this and make cost-savings. We do this by connecting people through a single gateway to your travel management products and services, giving you a seamless experience no matter where you are in the world. This takes in everything from booking resources to reporting streams, analytical functions to risk management processes, fast approval systems to unique traveller profiles and market-leading mobile apps to detailed expenses management. At FCM we can use the data collected to drill down into all of your costs and measure supplier performance while satisfying CSR and Duty of Care requirements.
Experience travel technology of the future
It is crucial to have market-leading technology solutions in place to future-proof your travel plans. At FCM we deliver on that through our FCM Labs. It is a ground-breaking and innovative part of our business that focuses on solving your problems through technological solutions. Our in-house teams consist of tech developers, UX and UI specialists and travel experts who are given the time and space to identify the gaps where technology can make a tangible difference to you and your business. This is achieved by in-depth research, industry-leading creativity and a structured approach to testing and rollout. This sets us apart from most TMCs as technology is at the core of our value proposition. This future-thinking creates a business travel experience like no other. We continually invest and innovate to create the tools, software and apps that will bring benefits to your business travel programme in the years to come. From easier and faster booking to quick access to details about flights or destinations, our technology is constantly evolving and evaluated. Our award winning mobile travel assistant called Sam is an exclusive product innovation that puts an artificially-intelligent personal travel assistant in your pocket.
Putting people first
At the heart of FCM’s DNA is bringing the human element to your business travel programme. The comfort and well-being of your travellers is paramount to us and to achieve this, we only use dedicated teams of experienced consultants who are always at the end of the phone with the knowledge to deal with your needs. Our people are our greatest asset and provide a business travel experience that you can truly rely on. Our Travel Consultants are complemented by the expertise of our Strategic Account Managers and our service team model means you build up a personal relationship with people you trust. Your Strategic Account Manager will also continually be benchmarking all aspects of your programme to deliver on our promise that you will reap the greatest value and rewards of your new trusted partnership with us.
Writing an RFP in just 12 questions
Developing a robust Request for Proposal (RFP) to choose a new TMC is crucial. But it’s not rocket science!
Here are a series of basic and important steps to follow, and questions to answer, that will ultimately save you time, money, effort and stress during the process. It will vastly improve your chances of signing a TMC that fits your needs the best.
How would you improve our travel programme?
An open question to gauge some initial thinking. Does it have new ideas for wholesale improvement immediately or will it be a structured approach to change over a certain period time. Remember, you must provide as much data and current programme information as you can if TMCs are to develop a suitable plan to answer this.
How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors and industry peers?
Maybe it is the people in the business who set the TMC apart from the rest, or perhaps it has an approach to technology unlike any others in the industry. Are its tools and offerings unique or simply off-the-shelf solutions? Can it truly call itself global or is it just part of a wide, but disconnected, network?
Can you demonstrate an understanding of our culture and philosophy?
It is right to test candidates on the research and knowledge they have gathered about you. But remember, it is equally important to have done your own homework on them. Have you spoken to other customers of theirs? What do buyers think of them? Have you checked out what the travel trade press and their own content says about them?
What are the synergies to explore between your company and our business?
Before going out to RFP, it can be useful to issue an RFI (Request for Information) first with simple yes/no questions to be answered. This would be a great way to establish whether a TMC meets your own minimum criteria of natural synergies in both of your businesses to make candidates worthy of any further consideration.
What are the core services you provide and how will they benefit our programme?
Remember that if you believe your current TMC is under-performing, first check it isn't your own travel programme causing an issue, perhaps through an outdated policy. Unless you can be sure your side of the partnership is fully competent, it will be difficult to grasp the exact benefits a new TMC can bring.
What is your current customer base, especially those with similar needs to ours?
Don’t rush to judgement, all companies are different. Given the entire TMC tender process should take three months to do your own homework and then three months for the RFP and selection, you have plenty of time to obtain references from buyers and each of the TMC's customers directly, not from the TMCs themselves.
What innovation do you believe we can benefit from over the next 12 months?
How well do you understand the upcoming innovations in the travel industry? When was the last time you went to a trade show or looked at the innovation and technology that has transformed your competitors' businesses? Do you have a clear idea of the gaps in your own innovation plans that need filling?
What does our brand mean to you?
Do you know what it means to you first? Laying the groundwork for your RFP means diving deep into your own current programme and TMC relationship. Do you have a travel council or advisory board for channeling feedback from your travellers, bookers, HR, finance and all other important stakeholders? If not, this could be the ideal time to start one.
How will you measure Return on Investment?
You can't choose your TMC using the same methodology you use to buy machinery, paper clips and marketing services. Decide how you will measure the RoI. Will it be through savings from introducing negotiated rates or caps or will it be from time saved by introducing and suggesting other policy changes? Prioritising the lowest bid isn't usually the answer.
How will you reduce our programme cost without negatively impacting service?
It is important to let candidates know whether the RFP is due to your travel programme or your business changing. If you have grown organically or through mergers/acquisitions or are travelling to completely different markets, a TMC's approach will be different to a case of you simply wanting different booking and expense tools.
Based on our current programme, what improvements could you achieve?
Have you delivered the best data you can? It should be the most precise and latest available to you for tailored, relevant and creative proposals. The less data provided, the more vanilla the responses. TMCs are also less likely to give their best rates if they are unsure how high their costs might be. Beware of using live price comparisons.
How will this strategic relationship benefit us both and what does it mean to you?
Focus on the questions each TMC will answer differently, not the ones they will answer the same. Remember you can ask competing TMCs to sign non-disclosure agreements, so all data provided will be treated confidentially. Offer your ideal Service Level Agreement in advance so TMCs can accept or propose alternatives.
Choosing a Travel Management Company is like choosing a diamond: Part 2
In the second and final part of our look at the most important things to remember when choosing a TMC, here we focus on everything from data to personalisation to technology and wider service offers.
If you are about to embark on a TMC search, or if it is an exercise you'll be facing soon, then remember, preparation is the key to finding and forging a new, successful and two-way trusting partnership with a new Travel Management Company.
Make data the heart of every decision you take in the future.
Whether your data comes from traveller bookings, suppliers or spending, a clear data strategy must be a key priority. Comprehensive, accurate data will allow big decisions to be made on policy, sourcing and spend from the strongest foundations. Your new TMC must have the ability to gather, integrate, analyse and interpret local data on a global scale.
A fully personalised service is the first thing to expect from a TMC.
When it comes to providing global travel management programmes, personalisation is so important. Every one of your travellers will have different needs, preferred airlines or hotels and, on a more granular level, different classes for travel, favourite transfer providers and specific room type or food requirements. Personalisation is the No1 priority for a TMC to ensure every traveller's needs are met to keep them happy.
Remember that a TMC is not only there to manage your travel.
When deciding on which TMC to choose, it is always important to understand the full 360-degree offer from them. Whether it is focused on your meetings or events spend - or both - choosing a new TMC can forge a relationship that delivers far more than flight and room bookings. From managing events, including booking venues or handling check-ins, to ensuring business gatherings of all sizes go smoothly, a good TMC will always offer more.
Technology that enhances your travel experience and adds value is crucial.
Market-leading technology solutions are now of the utmost importance to future-proof your travel plans. Offering your people the right tools, software and apps can bring benefits to their trips, your business travel programme and the wider organisation. Such innovative solutions will remove repetitive tasks to save time and money and connect up everything you do to provide data, key information and alerts.
Choosing a Travel Management Company is like choosing a diamond: Part 1
Searching for the best Travel Management Company (TMC) can be a very challenging and time-consuming process. The right outcome is crucial for tackling your second-largest controllable expense and ensuring the welfare, well-being, safety, security and comfort of your people when travelling for business.
Think of it like picking a diamond - they may come in many shapes and sizes but under the surface they aren't always the same quality. Here, in the first of two parts, are four of the most important things to remember when looking for a real jewel. We will have another four for you next week.
Make sure you are up-to-date with all the current players
It will be impossible to choose a new TMC if, before putting your contract out to tender, you don't have enough knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing TMC sector. If you want to pick from the most relevant pool possible then visit trade shows, have meetings at your offices and theirs, read the travel press and search the web for any interesting and relevant content a TMC may be producing.
Go global for a worldwide service that truly serves your people.
Global doesn’t always mean global in travel management as not all TMCs have in-country teams or can live up to the connected promises they make. Many work with local partners or franchises in select markets but not all have the right people on-the-ground in multiple locations. This ensures the best local knowledge and when aligned with the right connected technology can offer a truly global support system like no other.
Pick a single TMC that covers all of your locations and needs.
There can be no one-size-fits-all approach to travel management but having to manage more than one TMC to meet all of your unique needs can be costly, cumbersome and, sometimes, painful. A single TMC brings joined-up thinking, the greatest expertise to negotiate for cost-savings and a wide-ranging ability to provide the best Return on Investment.
Speak to your travellers, bookers, HR, finance and all other stakeholders.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking they will get what they are given. Find out what they like about the current TMC as well as what they dislike. Only when you know what is going right and wrong will you be able to provide potential TMC candidates with the feedback and data they will need to create a bespoke offering that works for everyone within your company to keep them safe and satisfied on their travels.