Five questions to ask before you appoint your next travel provider

Travel provider
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4 min read

CEOs around the world have identified ‘hiring the wrong employee’ and ‘collaborating with the wrong business partner’ as the two biggest business mistakes.

To avoid appointing the wrong Travel Management Company (TMC) partner, it’s important to manage the bidding process with a solid travel RFP (request for proposals). The process can be long and arduous, but it doesn’t have to be.

To help streamline the process, Nicole Adonis, General Manager FCM Travel Solutions, suggests asking prospective candidates the following five questions”. The answers will go a long way in identifying the right service provider,” she explains.

  1. How are you helping South Africa’s transformation efforts?

When choosing a supplier, a company’s B-BBEE level is influenced by supplier levels. The higher that rating, the more a business can claim towards its procurement spend.

The math is simple, explains Adonis: by choosing a B-BBEE  Level 6 partner, only 60 cents out of every rand spent counts towards your B-BBEE scorecard. However, when appointing a Level 1 company, for every R1 spent with that supplier, your business can claim R1.35 against its preferential procurement scoring.

A B-BBEE certificate not only offers economic benefits, but it also shows a company’s commitment to transformation. As a Level 1 travel business, FCM Travel Solutions has focused on empowering its staff through broad-based initiatives. This means that over 200 female employees in the company are directly benefiting from the business in the form of dividends.

“Furthermore, these employees have a vested stake in ensuring that your business goals are met through cutting-edge travel management. Your success is their success,” says Adonis.

  • What have you included in your technology roadmap?

How often does the prospective TMC release new products, enhancements or upgrades? Does the business incorporate customer feedback into its development cycle regularly?

The technology offered by a TMC should deliver innovation in functional areas such as simplified booking; real-time information; policy compliance; service-level monitoring; issuance of travel and weather alerts. Adonis says: “Being better connected, travellers and bookers feel in control, and that gives programme managers the feedback they need to elevate their travel programmes.”

For instance, FCM continually takes into account feedback via its Client Advisory Group, which is used to develop new concepts and features for its various travel programmes. That might mean leveraging data differently or introducing enhanced technology features, like the FCM travel chatbot Sam:].

  • Do you have an experienced team to help solve challenges?

Does your prospective TMC have the right team in place to deliver on its promises, regardless of the complexity of the itinerary or the number of travellers? Is your next meeting in the middle of the desert?

A credible TMC should be able to organise the right visas, transfers and flight connections and pre-empt any challenges that come with organising an event in a remote location.

“Whatever the demand, your appointed TMC needs to have the workforce and resources to be able to accommodate irregular demands and requirements,” suggests Adonis.

  • Is someone available after hours for emergencies?

Emergency channels and short response times are vital when it comes to corporate travel. Whether your traveller experiences a flight disruption, is struggling with health issues or has simply lost his or her luggage, your TMC must be available around the clock to solve mishaps.

A dedicated team that operates a 24/7/365 after-hours emergency service and customer help desk is non-negotiable for any enterprise with multiple travellers.

  • Who will be in charge of my account?

Appoint a TMC geared with an experienced team and led by a dedicated Account Manager who understands your requirements intimately and can act swiftly to resolve problems.

Your travelling staff will benefit from knowing they have a highly individualised escalation point for critical travel issues at every point along their journey.

To help companies with their search, FCM Travel Solutions has produced a whitepaper: The ‘Step-by-step guide to structuring an effective travel RFP’. The paper offers suggestions on how and when travel managers should embark on the RFP process, the common pitfalls and whether travel managers should consider a global or local TMC.

The guide provides insights into a range of different techniques that companies can use to elicit the best RFP responses. It will also indicate the right structures to ensure vendors deliver the level of service required at the right price.