Woman in office on cell phone. Business travel: the budget vs. employee productivity

When it’s time to renew your managed travel program contract, take the opportunity to revise your RFP in order to produce more meaningful responses. Asking the tough questions early in the process allows for a more precise response and subsequent implementation. In addition, your vendor review team will gain a better understanding of your prospects’ capabilities and ensure there’s a match with your corporate culture.

How Long Will it Take?

Travel management is one of the most complex procurements, and the RFP process can take a surprisingly long time – especially if you have a robust travel program. Look at it from the perspective of a travel provider. For them, each client is unique. A state government agency will have different requirements than an emerging tech company, which will also differ from a large manufacturer with an active sales team. Proposals need to be 100% customized to your needs and specific requirements, so it will take the vendors some time to figure out your industry and associated challenges.

The overall procurement process will likely take three or more months and generally follows these steps:
• Develop and distribute the RFP
• Review and evaluate responses
• Clarify responses
• Conduct oral presentations
• Clarify issues raised during presentations
• Review and evaluate new responses
• Narrow the field
• Negotiate service requirements and financial concerns
• Agree on key performance indicators
• Sign an agreement

How Should We Begin?

Start the process by including all the key stakeholders and ask them to submit their requirements and requests to include in the RFP. Invite representatives from Human Resources, IT, Legal, Operations and Procurement, as well as your dedicated administrative professionals and a few of your most frequent travelers to be part of the review team. You’ll want to consider the end-users of the program as well – groups like sales, training and accounting. Then, help your team make the right choice from among the incoming proposals by adding in the details to flesh out your RFP. The better you can describe your company’s specific needs and challenges, the better proposals you’ll get in return.

Download a Managed Travel RFP Template

To go beyond the boilerplate RFP, you may want to conduct an internal survey with a series of questions about your staff’s current travel experience. See if they’ll answer an open-ended question about what they’d change about the policy or the program. From there, you’ll be able to detail your requirements beyond the basics. The RFP will still need to cover travel fulfillment minutiae, including reporting tools, fee structure and other key data elements. But you should become a more educated consumer with the additional specifics you request in the proposal.

What Should We Do Differently This Time?

Use this RFP and response period to refresh your travel policy. Shared economy technologies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb for Business are changing the landscape of travel expenses. If you aren’t already allowing ‘bleisure’ trips, it’s time to consider offering this popular benefit to your staff, especially if your millennial traveler profile is growing. Does your policy reflect the current pricing trends for add-ons like priority airline seating and in-flight wi-fi access? And you may want to consider providing direct or virtual payments to remove some of the cash outlay requirements from your employees. Your travel policy reflects your company’s brand and culture, so consider how this document supports those tenets.

Who Should We Consider Working With?

Whether you’re looking for greater cost savings or operational improvements, Travel Leaders Group can help. Our expert team can assist with not only revamping your travel policy, but also honing your overall strategy. Travel Leaders Group has helped its clients implement their new programs with our proven change management process. Finding the right partner and creating the right policy doesn’t do much if it’s not successfully adopted by your employees. Finally, communicate the rollout plan with your vendor review committee. They’re now experts on travel management and can help inform the staff of the changes ahead as well as serve as your company’s internal adoption cheerleaders.

Download a PDF of this article