Stuart Birkin is general manager, Glasgow, at CTM a global travel management company and one of nearly 200 exhibitors who’ll be at Business Travel Show Europe, 28-29 June 2023 at ExCeL, London.
Have you decided it’s time to get serious about your company’s business travel?
Maybe more of your company is travelling, or your travellers are going on more trips with complex itineraries. Whatever the reason, it might be a good time to think about working with a travel management company who will look after everything for you.
The question is, how do you choose one that that’s right for you, that’s going to improve your bottom line and, more importantly, achieve your company’s business travel goals?
I’ve worked with CTM for over 10 years and CTM has served a wide range of customers around the world for over 28 years. In that time, we’ve guided many growing businesses through the initial stages of creating and submitting a Request for Proposal (RFP) for business travel management.
In this blog, I’m going to highlight five easy steps to help you get started and save time and effort along the way, which could be better spent elsewhere.
1. Begin at the end
Ask yourself, what result is your company hoping to achieve? Why do you want to source professional management of your business travel?
Is it because you’re growing and have more travellers and trips to manage? Is it because your travellers have started to visit high-risk locations? Are you and your accounts team fed up with undocumented expense reporting? Are you experiencing leakage because you don’t have a travel policy? In other words, you don’t know what’s being spent where and whether it complies with company guidelines.
If it’s all of the above – and more – a great place to start is with prioritising your top 3-5 objectives. This will help you focus on critical elements, streamline the process, and make the most of your efforts.
2. Engage your stakeholders
If you can identify a small group of internal stakeholders who have an interest in improving your travel processes, it’s key to get them onside early on. Be sure to include peers and leaders from finance and administration, too, as they’ll be invaluable in helping to review your initial objectives (Step 1) and identifying requirements from a departmental level.
3. Gather as much data as possible
You may not yet have a detailed approach to data collection in place, so I’d suggest talking to your travellers, the people who are actually on the road.
Ask them to help you identify their current travel habits and spending records. The more data you can share on your RFP about your current travel will allow bidding agencies to tailor offers to your needs, address areas of concern, and identify opportunities to create efficiencies or improve service.
4. Invite the right potential partners
While your initial instinct may be to outreach to every potential partner in the market for a diverse set of options, this can be extremely overwhelming for a business that’s new to the process and could actually be time-draining and lead to decision paralysis.
Submitting and reviewing RFPs is time-consuming, and if you’re wearing many hats (like many PAs, EAs and office admins are) then sifting through the multitude of paperwork isn’t the most efficient way to spend your time.
Instead, start by comparing your objectives to market information on providers, then invite a smaller selection with greater potential to meet your needs. For more info, read our blog: 5 tips for electing a travel management company
5. Financials: Compare apples to apples
Always include a financial offer template for all bidders to complete. With so many potential pricing models in the industry, this allows you to easily compare complex offers side by side against the same measures. Allow bidders to include creative offers to demonstrate unconventional approaches to meeting your goals but include a set of core expectations and consistent pricing elements to assist in identifying your total cost of ownership with each offer.