Finding the right TMC for your business is crucial for your travel program’s success. But once the selection process is complete, how do you ensure a smooth transition between your incumbent and your new TMC, with minimal impact on your travelers?
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 program and one you want to make the most of.
Over the years we’ve seen what’s worked, what hasn’t and the common mistakes when it comes to TMC onboarding. 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 onboarding 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 organization 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
While 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 program, 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 program 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 entire organization 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 organization for them? Continuous employee feedback will allow you to manage the process with empathy, while following effective change management principles will help you counter any internal 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 program 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 details of the project.
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 organization 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 program. 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 grinding to a halt by not having the right building blocks in place from the start. A smooth implementation is dependent on reliable and accurate information, so as soon as your TMC selection process is finalized, 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 customizable 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 analyzing your stakeholder engagement needs, to tracking and measuring adoption criteria, we combine globally recognized methodology with best practice communication and messaging components to create a compelling, exciting path of change for your organization. But don’t take our word for it – discover how we collaborated with Toyota to streamline processes, ensure a better traveler experience and deliver “Travel Re-Imagined".