So, you recently decided to partner up with a travel management company (TMC) to handle your business travel. That’s a great start, but actually finding and choosing an agency that jives with your company and fulfills its needs can be a challenge in its own right. It’s crucial to make an informed and deliberate decision, especially seeing as your relationship with your TMC is for the long haul. There are definitely some TMC services that are essential, like 24/7 support, account management, and help with supplier negotiations, for example. That being said, here are a few less obvious things to look for in a travel partner.
1. Are they invested in sustainability?
Did you know that, on average, business travel makes up nearly half of a company’s greenhouse gas footprint? For our planet’s future, it’s critical that we do whatever possible to reduce emissions. As the climate crisis comes increasingly to light, many enterprises are becoming more and more aware of their environmental and social impact. In that spirit, a good corporate travel partner will equip you with emissions reporting, as well as solutions on how to reduce your company’s overall footprint. A good way to find out if sustainability is ingrained in a TMC’s values is to see whether they hold any relevant certifications or awards related to environmental or ethical conscientiousness.
2. Do they help you to understand your travel data?
Every corporate travel agency provides reporting services, but it’s difficult to find one that will really dive into the details and pull out actionable opportunities for you. What’s more, the majority will do nothing more than provide numerical travel spend data; many TMC account managers have an understanding of the travel industry, but no complementary knowledge in finance or analytics, for example. The best TMC’s will provide not only accurate travel data, but also a degree of financial analysis, empowering you with insights that help you save money.
3. Do they encourage traveler adoption?
What’s the point of working with a TMC if your travelers aren’t booking through them? A good travel partner will help implement measures encouraging employees to adopt proper booking behaviors. The key here is communication; some agencies will go so far as to create personalized educational videos to introduce your travel policy, for example. But that’s not all. More specifically, a TMC should do whatever they can to push travelers to book their arrangements online, as this translates to significantly lower transaction fees. This means that often, a TMC’s online booking tool (OBT) can make or break a travel program. The best OBT’s will integrate your policy guidelines, on top of being easy to navigate. So to sum it up, a TMC that provides a quality OBT and educates your travelers, both in how and why it should be used, is the kind you should work with.
4. How do they tackle compliance?
It has been determined that satisfied employees are much more likely to comply to their company’s travel policy. Your travel partner should therefore be willing to offer solutions for guaranteeing traveler satisfaction, with excellent support service, for example, and improved compliance would naturally follow. On top of that, there should be measures in place to ensure that employees who book with agents over the phone are compliant too. A good TMC will ensure that their agents are constantly referring to policy when assisting travelers with bookings. Equally important is traveler feedback; any TMC worth its salt will provide travelers an avenue to make their feelings known.
These are just a few lesser-known services that really enrich a travel program, and that any great travel partner will be happy to provide. Choose wisely! One last piece of advice: don’t forget to consider the importance of supplier diversity, so that you can benefit from varied points of view, and really let your values shine through. Diversity is very near to our hearts, and you can expect an article on the subject soon, so stay tuned!