So the time has come to outsource your business travel to a travel management company, you may have even chosen your preferred partner already. But how do you ensure it goes to plan? With over 120 years of business travel experience up our sleeve, we’ve worked with hundreds of customers as they’ve moved from booking business travel themselves to a professionally managed service, so it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about making sure it goes well.
If you’re implementing a business travel company for the first time, here are 5 top tips to help keep your implementation on track from day one…
#1 Be clear on your goals and expectations
In advance of sourcing a travel management company give some thought to what you want to achieve from the project. Are you looking to reduce the amount of time spent managing corporate travel requirements or maybe reduce the overall cost of travel through implementing and using a corporate travel agency to apply your first travel and expense policy? Having a clear understanding of your expectations ensures your chosen travel partner clearly understands your expectations for success and then builds your travel programme to deliver these initial goals.
#2 Take time to understand any specific accounting requirements
Defining the right process for purchasing through to accounting is one of the most vital elements of a streamlined implementation, and figuring this out before your new service goes live will save lots of headaches later on. For example, in some organisations there are multiple approaches to payment and accounting depending on which department you’re dealing with. By taking the time to understand each department's requirements with finance heads and purchasing, you can accommodate any variations in their needs. This may also highlight opportunities to streamline existing processes. Your corporate travel agent should support you in defining these requirements and provide recommendations in making it all run as efficiently as possible.
#3 - Build relationships with stakeholders at all levels
It’s important you meet bookers, and travellers and not just the purchasing and finance departments. Better still, introduce them to the people at your travel management company who will be working on your account to help them build a great relationship from day one. Canvassing opinion and informally spending time throughout your organisation to get to know bookers, pick up on feedback and discuss best practice and ideas, makes a big impact on understanding the needs of all stakeholders and makes delivering a travel management service your employees buy into much more likely.
#4 - Keep everyone in the loop
Communication throughout the whole implementation process cannot be underestimated. A communications plan that considers the culture of your organisation can make a significant difference to the buy in of staff to support the contract and with the endorsement of senior management... can also have a big impact.
Pay particular focus to who your key stakeholders are and engage with them from the start. You’ll probably find that some people respond better to different types of communication so mix up your communication methods, such as face-to-face meetings, webinars, emails, forums and launch events to name a few.
#5 Servicing Requirements
This is the perfect opportunity to make your business travel programme as bespoke as possible. A good travel management company will listen and act on your requirements, so provide them with as much detail as you possibly can to ensure your needs are met.
Identify your preferred fulfilment method, do you require an online booking solution, off-line facility or maybe a mixture of the two? Asking your TMC for demonstrations of the platforms available, not only helps to create understanding, but will help integrate the booking in perfect harmony within your business.
Your hotel programme should be slick and fit for purpose, so ask your TMC to create a Hotel programme that suits your needs. Your hotel bookings can be processed in different ways and should fit in with your requirements. Programmes range from “Paid on Departure” by the traveller, “Pre-paid” (with an agreement as to what extras can are included) or “bill back” (again agreeing what elements are charged back).
Establish key contacts within your organisation that pull all of this together and determine best practice for areas such as booking procedures, authorisation levels and the amendment or creation of a travel policy that reflects your new processes.
By implementing the above tips, you can ensure that all bases are covered when beginning a new relationship with a travel management company. If you have any tips that you would like to share please leave a comment in the box below...