Travel Leaders Corporate believes that relationships are won because of trust, real value and the ability to create a custom, best-in-class solution. We are often invited to participate in an RFP for a client that we have not yet met. When that happens, we ask to meet the decision makers prior to responding. While the RFP document often will call out the company’s objectives, the emotional perspective isn’t revealed. In addition, many of the travel pain points that could be uncovered through direct conversations are left out of the RFP.
The Myth of the Level Playing Field
The typical reason a company cites for declining a discovery meeting is the desire to maintain a level playing field among the potential vendors. Interestingly, I have never encountered a company that didn’t already have some kind of relationship with one or more of the bidding agencies – not such a level playing field after all.
When Travel Management Companies (TMCs) respond to these blind bids – where no relationship exists with the prospective client – the result can only be a generic response with little customization that simply doesn’t result in a meaningful proposal. It’s bad for us and bad for the company soliciting the bid.
When we do meet with the prospective client, we gain insights into the company’s culture and learn what is important to their executives and travelers. Often these discussions expose other needs and interests the client hadn’t even considered.
Once our mutual trust is established, our clients find that we can help their business in all kinds of ways they hadn’t envisioned. These are the things a procurement committee leaves on the table when they don’t meet with a Travel Management Company proposing to handle their business.
Buying Travel Services
Travel Management is a big and diverse product. The buyer must really understand the product they intend to purchase to get the best value for their dollar while still ensuring the employee satisfaction, which is so important in today’s travel programs. Those valuable face-to-face meetings can ensure that understanding.
It’s all in the RFP
A TMC responding to an RFP with ‘canned’ language is just wasting their time. Each submission must be crafted from the perspective of the individual client. A well-thought out proposal take weeks to write from creating the solution that best meets the client’s needs, customizing the pricing offer and producing the final documents. The root of the whole thing is trust. With a face-to-face meeting, you get insights into a company when you meet their representatives. You find out why they joined a company and why they stayed. Once we meet in person, we know we can write an effective RFP response and we learn the ways we could make this relationship an effective and enjoyable experience.
Small insights add up to knowledge and expertise
Even the bidders who don’t win your business can add value to your travel program. A bidder with real interest in your business will result in the representative sending you cutting edge information such as insights into Duty of Care, new technologies, how changing travel policies can impact road warriors and using travel policy as a hiring or retention tool.
For example, we are finding that business travel is having a significant impact on hiring, employee engagement and retention. In a tight job market, the competition is stiff for skilled employees especially in technical positions, software development, professional services and more. The Travel Managers that we work with have repeatedly said that their company’s travel policy is a recurrent topic in employee interviews. Potential new hires want to know ‘what class of service is allowed’, ‘can I book a certain supplier’ and ‘what is the company’s policy on more comfortable seating’? Find out more about how your travel policy can attract or repel well-qualified job candidates.Ready to speak with a corporate travel expert about how you can better manage your business travel? Get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation that can help lower costs and improve employee productivity.