The Covid-19 pandemic, and the upheaval and uncertainty it has caused, has proven to many businesses the true value of working with a travel management company (TMC). Indeed, a recent survey by Business Travel News revealed that more than 42% of buyers believe their TMC relationship is more important now than before the pandemic.
From cost savings to spend visibility and traveller safety, the value of working with a TMC can be quantified in many ways. And as businesses’ needs and priorities evolve in response to the crisis, it’s essential that travel managers continue to assess that value and leverage their TMC relationship to meet these changing needs. So, whether your travellers are out on the road or your travel programme is on pause, here are our five tips to managing your TMC more effectively and ensuring a successful partnership:
1. Set clear and realistic objectives. These might include reducing out-of-policy bookings to ensure traveller safety, increasing mobile tech adoption to support your duty of care or making your travel spend more visible to identify any savings opportunities. By limiting the number of objectives, you should begin to see the returns fairly quickly, giving you a platform on which to build.
2. Involve your stakeholders from the beginning. Engage with all your key stakeholders to ensure the objectives you set your TMC meet the needs of the entire business. To successfully implement changes, for example reducing leakage, it’s critical that your internal stakeholders first accept and then adopt the change, so make sure to keep the wider business involved throughout.
3. Be open to new ideas and suggestions from your TMC. Their knowledge and experience with other client organisations will deliver cost and time savings, especially when it comes to driving online adoption or driving travel policy compliance. For example, new tools – often powered by Artificial Intelligence - are being developed all the time to improve and personalise the traveller experience; your TMC can ensure those tools are accessible to your travellers in a secure online environment.
4. Modernise your processes. Getting maximum value from your TMC will be impossible if your travel policy and approval workflows are cumbersome or don’t provide wide enough, or suitable, options for travellers to meet their needs. With many companies hitting ‘pause’ on their business travel, now is the perfect time to step back and review your travel programme’s processes to see what’s working and what isn’t, and identify areas for improvement.
5. Be flexible. 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, or to react to the changing circumstances, 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; help drive policy compliance among your travellers and provide the right combination of technology and human support to help guide you through these unprecedented times.