No one likes change. Change can be a long, often costly, and painful process. And who's to say the grass is always greener... better the devil you know, right?
When you've been with the same travel management company (TMC) for a long time, it's comfortable. You are familiar with their consultants and their technology. Changing to someone else seems a huge amount of effort for a seemingly indefinable return on investment.
How do you know if the change is not just necessary, but well overdue?
Here's a list of tell-tale signs that indicate you should consider what other TMCs have to offer, and at the very least, start a much needed conversation with your current provider.
1. You're not seeing any return on investment
When you engage a TMC, you're paying for a service that goes above and beyond the booking of travel. Discussions about and / or delivery of process efficiencies and cost saving initiatives that bring value to your travel program should be a consistent theme in conversations. Not only this but regular reporting on the savings that have been delivered to show value should also be occurring. If you're not seeing or hearing it, it may be time to move on.
2. Technology is the same as five years ago
Travel technology moves at a fast pace. You only need to look back to how you were booking your own personal travel five years ago, for evidence of this. With new online and mobile technology, automation and travel industry disruptors, emerging constantly, if your TMC is not keeping up, then they may be falling behind.... and by extension, your travel program.
3. Consultants don't think outside the box
More often than not, your TMC's consultants are veterans in the travel industry with many years' of experience in the field, but experience isn't the only consideration. There are two different types of consultants - those who take orders and those who provide solutions. If your travellers are the type who book the 9:30am Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne every week then order takers are great! However, if you need someone to take your complex travel brief and 'get creative' with finding you the best fare or route, with timings and details to suit your business purpose, then you definitely need a expert consultant providing options and thinking outside the box.
4. Travellers are constantly find better rates
I'll admit, this one is a little bit controversial! When it comes to fares and rates, you really want your TMC to do the following:
- load your organisations' specially negotiated fares and rates
- make their own specially negotiated fares and rates available to your travellers
- integrate content from third party sources (i.e. ticket consolidators and online travel agencies)
- use all of the above sources to book (or allow you to book) the best available fares and rates
- ensure travellers appreciate the added layer of duty of care insight for all bookings in policy
- online support offerings - not available when booking outside.
If your travellers are continuously complaining that they are able to find better rates themselves, then one of the above areas is falling over, and it might be time to have a conversation with your TMC on what can be done.
5. You have no visibility into what you are spending
One of the many perks of having a TMC is complete visibility across every aspect of your travel spend. Technology has advanced so much that reporting is now available at your fingertips, online in real-time. Additionally, data that is consistently inaccurate can also be a concern. What's the point of having it if you can't rely on it to gain insights or make decisions? Continuous data integrity issues also might be symptomatic of a larger quality control issue.
6. It's their way or the highway
If you have approached your TMC with an idea or new approach you would like to incorporate, only to be met with a ‘we can’t do that’, it's a clear warning sign that they might not be as progressive as they initially promised. If your requests are constantly met with a firm no, without any alternative options offered, or considered responses as to why your request is not possible, then maybe it is time to have a look around.
Business travel is dynamic and constantly changing, meaning a dogmatic, steadfast approach to advancement or innovation will significantly hinder a travel management company and their clients.
Where to from here?
If a few of the above areas are a concern for your organisation, the best approach is to start a dialogue with your incumbent and see if you can address these issues. You already have a relationship and they should know the ins and outs of your account already, so try to salvage what you have.
If you want to find out how your travel program measures up, complete our travel program assessment.
If your TMC is slow to make any changes or makes no changes at all, then it might just be time to flex those fingers and get cracking on an RFP.