Evaluating the needs of your travel program can be a challenging process, especially given the drastic changes in the industry. It is crucial to understand not only what your travel management company (TMC) offers in terms of personalized service, vendor agreements, negotiations and technology offerings, but quite possibly even more important is their strength and “staying power” coming out of the COVID era of travel.
Large conglomerate TMCs can set you up with a broad scope of everything you need to run a travel program. This is good if you’re looking for something to get started and if your travel needs are minimal. But, if you’re looking for a flexibility and areas of change should you want that, you may find these lacking.
To ensure your program is constantly improving and that you are receiving the personal, customized service you deserve, approach your relationship with your TMC as a partnership. Client solutions managers are there to help you fine-tune your policy to fit your needs.
“Working with a TMC that takes a consultative, customized approach to managing your travel program is one of the greatest investments you can make,” says Vice President of Business Travel, George Kalka. “Your TMC should be your trusted business partner and deliver solutions that complement the unique travel requirements and culture of your organization.”
For an added benefit to your travelers, use an agency with 24/7 in-house agent support services, like Fox emergency services team, a service that is crucial for your travelers and optimizes your business travel experience.
Vendor: Negotiations, Agreements and Partnerships
When analyzing vendor agreements, look at your current rates and what else is out there. You could be paying hidden fees and other costs that might not be beneficial to your company’s travel needs. Especially with the impact of Covid-19 airlines in particular are seeing a considerable transformation. The scope and size of the big 4 will be reduced by 30-40 percent. Their entire organizations will change, so make sure that you are having the conversations with suppliers that you need to in order to keep your agreements working for you.
Working with a TMC that has established, close vendor partnerships can help negotiate and work better deals for your travel program.
With today’s ever-growing technology and rapidly changing needs, innovative apps for travelers and tools to help you manage your policy with ease are as important as ever. Are there capabilities you wish you had, or are there pain points that you and your travelers have not had answered?
Ask about customized technology or even the possibility of building technology to answer your biggest needs. Ask yourself what is most important for your business travel plan to be successful.
Examples of areas of improvement include booking tools, waiver services, expense management and analytics. Do not be left behind operating with a behind the times approach, and instead seek out the forward-thinking solutions to make for a simpler experience for the business traveler.
While evaluating your travel program, analyze the areas above and determine if your expectations and standards are being met. Just because your travel might have slowed down, doesn’t mean you need less from your TMC partner. Most importantly, make sure that your TMC has the staying power to continue to serve clients through industry fluctuations like we are experiencing now.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 saw a record number of mergers and acquisitions among travel management companies. This trend will most likely continue well into 2021 with, most recently, the acquisition of Ovation Travel by American Express Global Business Travel in January 2021.
Assessing the “staying power” of your TMC is crucial because if your TMC is purchased by a mega TMC, this can affect their ability to provide personalized service and customized solutions for smaller to mid-size organizations where the travel volume doesn’t support a high-touch service model. You will want to ensure that your TMC has the financial strength and leadership to support you and your travelers through fluctuating economic conditions, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and be with you on the other side.
“Now in our 61st year and third generation of private ownership, the long-term view with which Fox World Travel runs our business has never been more relevant. Our lack of debt along with our financial responsibility enables Fox to successfully navigate impacts such as COVID-19 and remain a stable, healthy company to be there for our clients when they need us the most.” – Chip Juedes, Chief Executive Officer of Fox World Travel.
At Fox, we make sure our clients have all the necessary resources to ensure a successful travel program. Refining and understanding the important aspects of the perfect TMC is key to making sure your company is getting the quality service it deserves.
Make sure you have the TMC partnership that’s right for you and that you can count on. Let’s review your travel needs together.
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