With South Africa’s economy still volatile, most companies are keeping focussed on streamlining operations and eliminating wasteful expenditure.
Travel expenses may not always be a company’s biggest cost item, but every rand misspent and not maximised is a rand wasted. When one takes into account that employee overspending can constitute one third of a business’ entire travel and expense budget, corporate travel can become a very high-cost item.
Partnering with a Travel Management Company (TMC) is not a luxury for Small to Medium Enterprises or large established companies.
“There is a misconception among many SMEs that if they book their business travel themselves, it will be quicker and cheaper. In most instances, this simply isn’t true,” says Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) South Africa Brand Leader Andrew Grunewald.
Although there are costs associated with hiring a TMC partner, the fees are negligible when one takes into account the compound time and cost-savings a TMC can achieve for your business in the long run.
To ensure the TMC you appoint has the best travel management solution for your business, Grunewald outlines four questions to ask yourself and your TMC partner:
1. Can I leverage my TMC’s supplier relationships for savings and service?
Negotiating preferred agreements is a smart way to reduce a company’s travel expenses, but not every company has enough travel volume to negotiate worth-while deals with suppliers such as airlines, hotels and car rental companies.
Grunewald suggests: “Ask your TMC what buying power and partnerships they have in place with suppliers from which you can benefit. A TMC like FCBT with global buying power will be able to leverage its relationships with suppliers to get special benefits, such as avoiding having to pay up-front deposits when renting a car.”
2. What kind of support am I getting from my TMC?
Employees are unlikely to be travel experts and that makes finding the best deal unlikely, and mistakes can end up costing the company.
A good TMC will not only source the right travel options for your business and staff, but they will also be there to catch you when travel arrangements go awry – when your flight is cancelled or delayed, you’ve missed your connection and are stranded in an airport that’s far from home.
Proper travel management is not only about saving the day when something unexpected happens, Grunewald maintains. “It is putting in place a travel policy and programme to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Having a clear corporate travel policy, and applying it consistently, are important steps SMEs can take to help to reduce travel costs, streamline their travel management and achieve the greatest ROI for their travel spend.”
3. How has my TMC helped my business and staff save time and effort?
Travel management is not just about getting the best deal. It’s about spending the least possible time and effort in finding it, and here is where a TMC should help you. From planning and booking, to after the traveller has returned, your travel expert should be making it easy to travel. You could spend hours comparing prices on various websites to ensure your TMC has found the lowest airfare, making sure all the documents are in place and reconciling your expenses when you return. Let your TMC do it for you, saving you time and effort.
4. What contracts and payment options does my TMC offer?
“Cashflow concerns and getting tied into contracts is one thing that will make most business owners run a mile,” says Grunewald. “If your TMC is asking you to sign a fixed contract and insisting on one payment solution that suits it, start lacing up your tackies,” he warns.
It is vital that any TMC partner offers a range of flexible payment options to suit your business, including an interest-free credit account.
By asking a few simple questions, it becomes quite straightforward to determine whether your company has put the proper TMC solution in place, Grunewald adds. “If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, consider switching to a TMC like Flight Centre Business Travel.”
To get more tips and advice on selecting the perfect TMC partner for your business, download FCBT’s whitepaper ‘Is your TMC really saving you money’.