Wide view of airport concourse, Managed Travel Programs: Keys to a Successful Combination

You’ve begun investigating the benefits of working with a travel management partner because you know what you’re doing now isn’t working, but the transition to a managed travel program feels daunting. Will your road warriors revolt? Will the savings justify the effort? Will you get the executive buy-in you need for success? With the right travel management company, you need not worry. With their guidance, your travelers will be happy, your cost savings will soar and the C-suite will be thanking you.

For any travel management company (TMC) worth their salt, the implementation process is seen as the beginning of a long-term relationship, and they will go out of their way to help you. They have been through many transitions before, and have a wealth of knowledge, advice and tools. But let’s be honest, much of the responsibility for a successful implementation will still be yours.

There are two primary factors all successful transitions have in common: engaged clients who work in partnership with their TMC and clients who have allocated the appropriate time and resources to support the effort. You’ll notice both of these falls squarely on the client. So, what can you do to ensure your travel program is a success? We’ve compiled seven steps that will help make your transition to a managed travel program as smooth as possible.

7 Steps to a Seamless Transition

1. Establish Goals and Stick to Them
As with any project, you can only succeed if you know where you are going. Set clear achievable goals from the beginning. Do you have specific cost-savings targets? Are you looking to achieve increased efficiency? Have recent events got you worried about duty of care? Make one or two a priority and adopt measurable benchmarks to ensure they get met. Repeat as necessary.

2. Assemble Your Dream Team
Transitioning to a TMC is no different from any other company-wide initiative, you need to assemble a team of dependable stakeholders and assign them clearly-defined roles. Make sure the team includes at least one frequent traveler and listen closely to what they have to say. Future compliance depends on their insider knowledge and buy-in.

3. Set Timelines You Can Meet
Once you have your team in place, set achievable timelines for what needs to be accomplished. Be sure to take into account other projects that might be happening at the same time and what kind of internal review process your company requires. Set regular check-in times to keep your team focused and schedule your launch so that it doesn’t coincide with a busy travel period, giving yourself leeway to work out any kinks that might arise.

4. Start a New Relationship
No one knows your business better than you do, that’s why open and honest communication with your travel management company is essential. The better your TMC understands your business, the better they can serve you. Consider organizing an in-person meeting with key stakeholders from both sides. After all, you’re laying the foundation for a healthy long-term relationship.

5. Get Those Above Onboard
Senior management support is essential for the success of any travel management program. If the people at the top don’t take the program seriously, neither will anyone else. Include the higher-ups early on, take their advice seriously and broadly communicate their support. If possible, have an executive sponsor the initiative.

6. Gather the Troops
That fear about your road warriors not getting onboard with the program? It’s legitimate. But it also has a solution: communication. Include them in the discussion from the beginning and make sure they understand why this transition is good for them and the company. Remember, no one likes surprises: make sure employees know about changes, and the rationale behind them, well before they go into effect.

7. Train Your Travelers
Give your traveling employees the training they need to make the program a success. Consider your corporate culture when deciding on the best method, whether it be face-to-face meetings, recorded videos or WebEx sessions. Make information accessible via searchable pdf’s and enlist a few road warriors to receive early training so that they can share what they know with those around them.

At Travel Leaders Group, we have decades of experience helping clients successfully manage the transition from handling travel in-house to signing on with a travel management company. Our dedicated implementation managers work one-on-one with clients to develop a program tailored to their needs. From a robust discovery phase through implementation and post-transition support, we guide clients every step of the way with expert knowledge, insight and advice. With Travel Leaders Group, you’ll have the support and service you need to create a travel program that meets your company’s goals and exceeds your expectations.

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