Wednesday 5 February 2020

*GUEST BLOG* A step-by-step guide to choosing the right travel management company

Finding the best travel management company (TMC) for your business can seem very challenging. Getting the right outcome is crucial for tackling your second largest controllable expense and looking after your travelling employees. It’s an emotive subject. Employees don’t care about what printer they use, but they really care about how they travel on business.

Successful TMC selection is all about following a series of basic but critical steps. Just like anything else, preparation is key. Time invested up front will save more time and money in the end.

Before the RFP

Step 1 – Get to know the TMC players in the market before the big game – don’t wait until the day before you go to tender. Meet each one over the previous 18 months, attend business travel conferences, read the business travel press. Consider organising a pre-RFP ‘open day’.

Step 2 – Make sure you really want to go to RFP. Think carefully before you go to market. Most companies aren’t obliged to tender for their TMC regularly. If your travellers and stakeholders are happy, there’s a strong case for sticking with your current TMC. If they’re not, try fixing the problem less disruptively by identifying the root cause. That way you will avoid the upheaval and substantial expense of a nine-month-plus tender process.

Step 3 – Lay the groundwork for your RFP. One of the best ways to save yourself a mountain of work is to conduct an RFI (request for information) before you go to RFP. At this point you are looking for simple yes/no answers from potential TMCs, e.g. Do you offer local services in countries where we need TMC coverage? Do you offer an out-of-hours service?


Step 4 – Build a killer RFP: state your objectives clearly – the more details you provide about your programme goals and what you want from a TMC the better; focus on questions that prompt creative answers, that each TMC will answer differently; include all the bid information ensuring TMCs have the full picture such as timelines, SLA, responses, compliance; get the structure right and sense check your RFP – does it have a logical narrative? Avoid using a standard procurement portal or template for TMC responses – a good old-fashioned Microsoft Word document often works best!

Post RFP

Step 5 – Make your TMC Selection – obtain impartial references from other travel buyers and industry associations; and beware of live price comparisons as variations can still be wide-ranging particularly on international air and hotel rates; get the financials right; listen to your people again once you reach the shortlist stage and don’t rush to make a decision.

Follow these guidelines and you will get a great result – and a much more pain-free process to help drive the right choice.

This blogpost was written by Graham Ross, UK General Manager, FCM Travel Solutions (stand B130) who is taking part in a panel session at the BTShow discussing: ‘Are travel suppliers choosing their clients instead of the other way around?’ on Thursday 27 February at 11.30-12.30. Register for FREE at FCM has also produced White Paper ‘How to choose the right travel management company’

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