If you work with a travel management company, they should be proactively negotiating with travel suppliers on your behalf. But are they doing enough to get you the best possible rates? Use the seven questions below to start a conversation about just how well they’re doing.
Unsure of what you should expect in terms of supplier discounts? While it is generally true that the larger the volume, the bigger the discount, smart suppliers are interested in more than volume. Your company’s potential for incremental growth is of great strategic interest to them and can be used as a powerful point of leverage.
While it is generally true that the larger the volume, the bigger the discount, smart suppliers are interested in more than volume.
Sizable discounts are available for small or medium-sized companies, but they require accurate spending and volume data as well as an enforced travel policy that uses preferred suppliers to their maximum potential. If your travel partner isn’t helping you achieve these goals, maybe it’s time to look for one who will.
Seven Questions to Ask Your Travel Management Company
1. Do you negotiate rates on behalf of all of your customers?
Any managed travel provider that competes in the corporate travel space should have their own proprietary negotiated program or access to a program through their affiliation with a larger organization. In this way, they are able to gain significant clout by pooling a large number of travelers. This is industry standard practice and should be a fundamental part of your travel management company’s structure.
2. Are you encouraging employee compliance?
Travel policy compliance is essential when it comes to successful rate negotiation, especially for small or medium-sized companies. Does your travel partner encourage compliance by offering online booking? Do they offer 24/7 customer service that makes it easy to follow the rules? If compliance is an issue, are they offering advice for improvement or adding training sessions?
3. Are you tracking the right data?
Accurate data is an absolute necessity when negotiating with suppliers. Your managed travel provider should be tracking the number of active travelers you have, how often and where they travel, what suppliers they use, and the amount they spend per supplier. You should also be receiving expert analysis, while their staff is continually looking for patterns and proactively suggesting adjustments to your travel policy.
4. Do you review our contracts on a regular basis?
Hotel and airline contracts require a certain number of nights stayed and flights flown. Are you meeting those minimums? If not, how can your travel policy be improved? Are your discounts appropriate for the volume of business your company delivers? Your travel management company should also provide you with benchmark rates so that you can accurately judge the efficiency of your program.
5. What other discounts are you getting for us?
Wi-Fi and parking fees might seem like nominal expenses compared to the cost of flights and hotel rooms, but multiplied over hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of trips and these fees can really add up. Your travel management company should be asking for all available perks, even those designed solely to keep your travelers happy such as space-available upgrades and expedited check-in and check-out.
In order for a travel program to remain viable, it must remain open to change.
6. Are you contracting with car rental and credit card companies?
Contract negotiations aren’t just for hotels. Your travel management company should be forging relationships with car rental and credit card companies as well. Car rental companies offer incentive programs and discounted rates on refueling charges, one-way fees, surcharges and insurance, while credit card companies offer higher credit limits and lower annual fees.
7. Are you negotiating one-time discounts for meetings?
Annual board meetings, conferences, large client consultations - any time you have a significant number of travelers congregating in one place, there’s an opportunity to ask for a discount. Airlines routinely offer special one-time meeting rates. Asking for them should be customary practice for your TMC.
Success Equals Constant Change
In order for a travel program to remain viable, it must remain open to change. Fluctuations in a company’s needs, traveler preferences and market demands require careful vigilance by an engaged TMC. At Travel Leaders Group, we have decades of experience monitoring, enforcing and updating every element of our clients’ travel programs. In addition, we have the expertise and industry knowledge to successfully align your travel policy with the suppliers who will offer you the best rates and make your travelers happy.