The 5 top questions to ask when selecting a Travel Management Company
About a year and a half ago, Humentum started the arduous search for a new Travel Management Company (TMC). We have worked with successful travel companies over the years but found it was best to survey the market and ensure we were still getting the best support for our travelers and value for our bottom-line. Our starting point was to seek companies recommended by peers on Humentum Connect and review our Industry Partners, who are trusted partners for our members and our community. We sent out Request for Proposals (RFPs) and narrowed it down to two of the top travel agencies for a humanitarian and global development organization and related size (<50 staff and 50+ associates/consultants). The RFP process reminded us how vital it is to select a company that can best support your travelers’ needs. As the world grapples with how to reopen and TMCs ramp up their staff and services, I encourage you to take the time to revisit and review your current TMC.
Working with a TMC is akin to having a professional travel agent as your most trusted colleague or your go-to phone-a-friend. It is critical to ensure your team is getting from point A to B safely and that their purchased tickets aren’t hurting your budget. If you are asking, do I need a TMC? I recommend considering the following key points. These are some of the questions we sought to have answered during our RFP process and will hopefully offer guidance in 2021:
Global Agents – For a global organization, like Humentum, which has staff in ten countries and associates/consultants in 30 countries, we found it imperative to have travel agents in multiple time zones. This benefited our travelers who could expect a quote in just a few hours. Find out where your TMC’s agents are based and their working hours, so you know when you can count on a response and establish an SLA (service level agreement) beneficial for your travelers.
24/7 Help Center – When your traveler’s flight is canceled halfway across the world, and they need assistance, or an emergency unfolds, the last thing they want is to call your TMC and hear from a call center or, worse, a voice mailbox. Avoid this by asking about the company’s SLA and what they can do to support your traveler day or night. Achieve a full understanding of their crisis preparedness and what they can do to aid both big and small situations.
Understanding your traveler’s behavior and preferences – Frequent travelers can be particular about airlines and seating preferences – and they have a right to be. One requirement we had was for our travelers to work with the same set of agents. We wanted to ensure our agents knew our travelers’ preferences and therefore provide the highest level of customer service. The former may not be possible in all scenarios, but when your travelers have complex itineraries and your agent finds the best flights at the right price, it can feel like a match made in travel heaven.
No fly list and other stipulations – You may follow the Fly America Act , or you may not. Make sure your TMC knows your preferences and legal requirements. Many TMCs might assume you are traveling for a project that is funded by a US federal grant or contract which requires you to book a ticket on a US carrier or foreign air carriers with code-sharing agreements with US flag carriers, even if that isn’t the case. Other examples may be humanitarian fares and banned airlines that should never be booked. For example, Humentum follows The EU Air Safety List. Be sure to share these stipulations and more with your travel manager and travel agents.
Don’t forget to also consider other travel support – Once your TMC is in place, consider if you need support with travel tracking, traveler safety, and crisis preparedness. Travel companies can provide support such as responding to emergencies, protecting travelers, and tracking security threats and emergencies. Not sure where to start? Humentum has Industry Partners that can provide these services and are trusted business partners with other nonprofits.
Are you considering reviewing your TMC? Consider these five key questions and more. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the importance of duty of care for you and your staff.