The secrets of a smooth TMC onboarding
Onboarding, or implementation, is truly the start of your travel partnership. Your chance to introduce your new TMC to the wider business, and get it right from day one so everyone knows what to do.
Onboarding comes in all shapes and sizes dependant on:
- Whether the client is moving from multiple TMCs or one.
- Launching a TMC into multiple countries, sometimes 80+, or one country.
- Which technology and solutions are being rolled out, which can differ by country.
- Company culture.
- Different stakeholders involved.
- Communication methods.
What makes a successful TMC implementation? We asked Lucy Rosa, Customer Implementation Team Manager- EMEA to give us a peek behind the curtain to see what it entails.
It’s a structured process, regardless of requirements
“We’re really that bridge between Sales and BAU (business as usual). I have to be light and happy to work with people, and yet give them some honest truths and be a taskmaster. It’s a real balance,” says Lucy. She explains a five-step process:
- FCM and our new customer sign the dotted line on our new partnership.
- Discovery phase. Solution Design fully absorb themselves in the client’s business to understand the current and future state of their business travel, globally or nationally. Discover what they have the power to change (or not), and what can be enhanced.
- Implementation rolls out what was ironed out in the Discovery phase. This is the project management part of the process; lots of tasks to complete. For those that need support, this includes a communication programme with a training academy and resources available for clients to use.
- Hypercare phase, once the customer is up and running. If any issues arise, they’re dealt with quickly.
- Handover to the Account Manager for the day-to-day business as usual.
Lucy’s two key factors to success
1. The right people from the client side in the room. The travel lead, and it’s useful to have someone from HR, Finance and Tech. Quite often it’s just the travel lead, but when you have the right people there then it goes well.
2. Internal communication. Conversations with Sales and Account Management need to be free flowing to work well. “There’s a good culture for communication in FCM,” says Lucy.
Even in global programmes, there’s often local touches
While businesses may look for a global travel policy, there’s always local nuances. Lucy highlights payment methods as a common challenge, with countries often using different payment methods, or changing through the onboarding process.
When a company is consolidating from multiple TMCs down to one (a speciality of ours), there’s a lot of work on change management with local teams. It’s largely communication with local stakeholders, combined with the best in market solutions based on what the client needs.
“That’s what makes us brilliant – that challenge of taking a company from 40 TMCs to one. It’s difficult to do, but it’s a joy when they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet,” says Lucy.
COVID only ramped up the process
Lucy claims that the pandemic was the perfect time to implement lots of clients as no one was travelling and requesting trips. So we did.
The challenge? Not being able to meet the client in person during the Design Solution process. “We need a vibe off the client and you can’t get that full picture when you’re on a call. When you’re working with someone over a long period, we like to get to know who we’re working with,” says Lucy.
As we emerge out of the pandemic, the challenge isn’t onboarding new customers but the existing customers. Now that people are travelling, they’re going back to make changes.
Quick fire intro to Lucy
Years in travel: 8
Favourite city: Tel Aviv
Best part of job: It’s exciting to work with different clients who are so different every day.
Longest implementation: 1.5 years. 180 countries into 38 service hubs.
Shortest implementation: 8 weeks for one country.
On working in a EMEA team: When you’re on these big global projects, there’s versions of you in Germany, Africa and the Nordics and it feels like a big team. It’s a pleasure to work on those teams around the world.