Imagine you have worked tirelessly to produce the perfect tender. For weeks, you have dedicated your time and energy to these pages, making sure every last question will yield the most thorough and edifying answers. Finally, it’s ready to submit for approval. Once it’s been given the green light both internally and from stakeholders, it’s ready to submit to your preferred tenderers.
So when your tender is returned with a no bid from a TMC, it can prompt you to question what went wrong on your end. The reality is, there is more to it than just what is inside the tender.
I have read and responded to countless tenders and while there are no hard and fast rules to this, there are a number of reasons why your RFP, despite having been thoughtfully put together, might have invited this response. I've included some hints and tips below to help you avoid the dreaded 'no bid' next time around.
Build a relationship with your prospective tenderers
If you have been hesitant to lay your cards out on the table and allow for a meeting between you and the TMC, chances are higher that you end up with a no bid. We continuously strive to build relationships with potential clients before the tender process has even begun, as this allows us to provide you with a solution that really is an actual improvement on your current program. If you don’t allow a TMC an opportunity to do this, they generally think you’re not serious about finding a solution, or could be just 'tyre kicking' to see if you can get better fees from your current provider.
More than that, building a relationship creates an open forum in which you and the TMC can freely discuss your likes and dislikes within your current travel program and any mandatory requirements from your side. This ensures that when you send out your tender to your preferred TMCs, they can actually meet the requirements.
Give the TMC enough time
It’s no secret, TMCs want your business and will do everything within their power to win it. When it’s crunch time and a tender is received by a TMC, it’s a combined effort of all divisions and teams throughout the organisation to produce the best response. I can guarantee that almost all TMCs’ bid teams will have multiple tenders to respond to at any one time.
So, if you have provided a rigid timeframe for an RFP to be completed and are unwilling to extend the date, it may cause a TMC to no bid. For example, if the tender falls across or close to a holiday period, it might limit the resources and thus won’t allow for a truly thorough response. The average timeframe for an RFP is roughly 4 weeks but I have received tenders that allow anything from 2 – 8 weeks. Often, if a TMC is unable to meet a deadline, they will request an extension on the submission date and when possible, procurement managers will grant submission on a later day. If you have met with the TMC and have already established a fairly good relationship, it may benefit both parties to extend the date. Remember, writing a tender is time-consuming and a TMC will only request an extension if it’s truly necessary, so try to maintain a degree of flexibility, especially if the TMC is among your top picks.
Steer clear of a massive, overly complicated RFP
When the size of the RFP document means that the TMC may spend more money responding to your tender than the revenue they will get from servicing your business, be prepared for a no bid. Simple is always the best policy for RFPs. Make sure you cover the main elements that you require from a TMC and leave some room for them to add anything that they think might benefit you. Don’t worry if you forget to ask about something that’s important in the RFP, you can always send clarifications or ask about it in the shortlist round!
If you want to calculate responses and measure one tender response against another, download our sample RFP.
Make sure you have provided enough information
We understand that pulling together all of the information that is required for an RFP can be quite difficult (especially if your TMC hasn’t provided it to you in the first place!) However, an RFP without enough information will be met with one of two likely responses from TMCs:
- A barrage of clarification questions, while each of the TMCs send through what they consider to be the essential information for the bid
- They think that you’re not serious and are just 'tyre kicking'. They take it as a sign that you don’t want to give too much away about your current travel program and incumbent provider as you are looking at staying with them and just want them to sharpen their pencil
My advice is to give as much information as you can up front. It is much better to provide too much information than too little, as the TMCs can then pick and choose what they use. If you don’t have visibility over your spend, write that in the RFP and make it a key criteria for your next travel management provider.
You don’t meet the TMCs requirements for a prospective client
In the same way that you have the elements that you are looking for in a prospective TMC partner, TMCs also know what types of organisations they can best service and which organisations are a cultural fit for their organisation. TMCs know what they specialise in and know which markets this best fits, and in fact chains of travel management companies have sprung up that specialise in providing services for certain types of clients. For example, universities and resources industry clients.
So, how does this impact you? Well… if you send your RFP out to a Travel Management Company that knows they genuinely can’t service your requirements in one way or another, they will no bid. To avoid this, make sure you meet with all of the TMCs prior to releasing the RFP. That way you can weed out TMCs that can’t or won’t service your organisation early, leaving you time to find and invite others that can.
Ultimately, it won’t be just ONE of the aforementioned factors that will prompt a no bid response, it’s often a combination of two or more of these aspects. Just make sure it’s not all 4, because you might be met with more no bids than bids!
If you’re about to go to tender and would like to see an example framework that might help the process, download our ebook - Running a pain free travel RFP.