Travel Management can get very complex, and when you decide to go to tender you really need to understand how the different elements work to ensure that when Travel Management Companies say they can meet your organisation’s requirements, they really can.
To help you out with this, we’ve created some standard definitions to use in your next tender, based on best practice in the industry. Use them in your next tender to level the playing field and ensure you get what you ask for. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
Caller recognition, well that has to be about recognising you when you call, right? Yup, but that’s only the start of it. We’ve all been through those phone calls where you know you’re talking to a robot:
Robot: “Hello, and welcome to telephone banking. Please state your request”
You: “Transfer Funds”
Robot: “I’m sorry, I did not understand that”
You: “Transfer Money at a later date”
Robot: “I’m sorry, did you say handsome and funny for a late night date?”
And the frustration continues to build! You want to avoid a situation like this when you call your travel management company, but how?
Imagine a world where you are immediately recognised based on the telephone number you’re calling from AND your profile and all your booking detail is displayed to the travel consultant on their screen. That call would go something like this:
Consultant: Good Morning Mr Smith, are you calling about your existing booking? The booking on the 22 January at 5pm to Denver?
Simpler, easier and better for your travellers… but not something you’d usually think to ask in an RFP.
24 hour service
Those of you who have been managing the travel category for a little while would know that there are three main types of 24 hour operations: offshore, remote and onsite. The main differences between each of these approaches are:
Calls are diverted to a call centre overseas outside business hours. This is generally in either India or the Philippines. The main benefit of this approach is that it reduces costs for the TMC as labour is less expensive in these countries. The risk of this approach is that English may not be their first language which, as we’ve all experienced, can make communication difficult. But more importantly, there are also specifics about the Australian market that they may not be familiar with. You don’t want to end up in Newtown, Victoria when you need to be in Newtown, New South Wales!
Local consultants earn extra cash by working from home outside business hours with a mobile and a laptop. The main benefit of this approach is that in the event of an emergency it is easier to mobilise remote consultants. The main risk of this approach is the technology and infrastructure issues related to working from home (network, IT setup etc.) and the risk of having the on-call consultants (who haven’t taken a call in hours) sleeping through your call.
Consultants are rostered to work shifts in an Australian based office location. The benefits of this approach are that there are a team of consultants on hand to answer your call, with a full infrastructure, all booking/ profile/ organisational information at their fingertips. The risk of this approach is that in the rare event there is an emergency affecting this office location, the organisation has to be set up to switch operations over to another location.
Depending on the requirements of your organisation any of the above could provide the optimal solution, however in my experience, best practice is a combination of remote and on-site. 24 hour (after hours) service is provided on-site, with Emergency assistance provided by a remote team of consultants based all over Australia.
When we get asked about support, it generally surrounds the online tool and ensuring there is adequate technical and functional support for moving to an online tool. But what about the other types of enquiries? Profiles, reporting, invoicing, fees, customer service etc., where are these enquiries going?
Generally, TMC’s provide this kind of support via an Account Manager. But wouldn’t it be better to have your Finance team talking to your TMC’s Finance Team (both speaking 'Finance') or your Data Analyst speaking to your TMC’s Reporting team? Because I don’t know about you, but the intricacies of the language of 'data' is something that I never learnt.
With the average organisation’s international travel increasing by 5.5% over the last year and the increasing pressure to reduce costs, the ability to book international travel via an online booking tool has become an increasingly requested feature. The questions around this that we normally receive are “Can the online tool do this?” not how?
There are two considerations here:The number of bookable sectors
With most international trips containing at least two sectors, online booking tools that can book more than this (simply and easily) are preferable.
Loading of rates
Of the online tools that are capable of international bookings, content can sometimes be an issue. So you’re looking for a tool that proactively integrates various forms of content (including low cost carriers) and doesn’t ask you to nominate which routes and carriers you want integrated.
Most online booking tool providers offer the ability to make changes to bookings (particularly flights) via the online tool. There is one main consideration here… manual or automated?
A manual change process means that although it appears that you are making the change in the online booking tool, it is actually queued to a consultant (or team of) in the back-end who will make the change for you. The issue with this is that it puts time constraints on the window in which a change can be made. The delay experienced might mean that you may not be able to check in on your new e-ticket.
Conversely, an automated process means you can change bookings online on the day of travel, within your own time frames and the ticket will be automatically reissued.
This infographic explains these differences perfectly!
Tickets in Credit
How a TMC handles your tickets in credit is yet another example of a manual vs automated conundrum.
This infographic demonstrates the differences perfectly.
So you pay 4 – 8% of your travel spend to your travel management company… for what? Well they provide a range of services including reporting, account management, supplier negotiation, training, travel policy consultation and ticket credit management.
The truth is that the additional value that a TMC provides is found in forming a true partnership, where they understand your organisation and can make suggestions to innovate your travel program through:
- introducing new supplier relationships (including travel, payment and technology suppliers)
- streamlining your internal travel processes
- modifying your travellers’ booking behaviours
- increasing online uptake
- reviewing your program on a regular basis.
Providing return on investment with suggestions formed through a true understanding of your travel program.
Make sure you check not just whether a TMC can do what you want, but HOW they do it too. Work the ‘how?’ into your RFP and you’ll find the responses will be clearer, making the provider that’s the right fit for your organisation stand out from the crowd.
Going to tender soon? Download our sample RFP document – it very nearly does all the hard work for you!