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July 2, 2020

A Guide to the Travel Management RFP Process

Crafting a request for proposal (RFP) is a necessary step in onboarding a new corporate travel management solution and a great opportunity to align business travel objectives with the most effective corporate travel management solution to revolutionize your current program. But the landscape for corporate travel management has changed dramatically in the last decade.

Today, technical factors like artificial intelligence and supplier connectivity play a bigger role in how a business travel management solution performs and controls costs -- and those considerations play a critical role in making the right decision for your travel policy.

Many corporate travel managers have also realized that building and delivering travel management services that puts the traveler front and center is the key to driving travel policy adoption and success. That’s why it’s essential for the travel manager or account manager to ask the right questions around the online booking tool, account management, travel services, support, duty-of-care and inventory.

Together, we'll review the travel management RFP process and illustrate key factors and nuances to consider when looking for a modern travel management company that can increase visibility, adoption, and duty of care while delivering on cost-savings and employee satisfaction.

The Importance of RFPs + Demos in a Post-Pandemic World

While nothing beats speaking to an account manager of a particular TMC or actually seeing travel management services in action through a demo, the RFP or RFI process is frequently a necessary step for large organizations that might be considering several TMCs before making a selection and moving on to an implementation plan.

Moving through the RFP process can be a good way to get a baseline assessment of the corporate travel management software market as a whole and get an idea of what’s available including unnecessary service issues. It is also, inevitably, an important part of showing executive management that the corporate travel manager has done their due diligence and extensive quality control before proposing a particular travel management company.

The RFP process can be particularly useful for new corporate travel managers or those thrust into a travel management role without prior experience, in order to gain business travel and industry knowledge while also educating themselves on what is possible through today’s technology. There are new factors, technologies, and products to consider when selecting a corporate travel management software that weren’t present even five years ago. And someone without industry knowledge or an idea of just how advanced travel technology is today might make the mistake of selecting a provider without truly considering all the factors that matter in today’s corporate travel environment. The wrong selection can lead to a travel program with low adoption, fewer cost reductions, unsubstantiated transaction fees, an unreliable point of contact, and a weakened ability to provide duty of care when business travelers need it most.

It is particularly important to assess corporate travel management companies in light of the novel coronavirus, which highlighted the importance of having a TMC that your company can trust more than ever. Enterprise executives realized the need to partner with a travel management company that can do more than compare airfares or list car rental companies. Their business travelers needed more than a telephone number on a website when their flights were suddenly cancelled and even taking ground transportation became a daunting act in March. These traveling employees needed a way to contact support 24/7/365 on chat, email or over the phone.

Now, four months later, few travel management companies have radically innovated on their products in order to meet the needs of corporate travel managers today. This is where TripActions stands apart. The team quickly developed business-critical solutions to help customers manage through COVID-19, including the coronavirus dashboard, new and enhanced product functionality like regional blacklisting, automated unused tickets and waivers in the booking flow, policy setting options with deeper customization and control, and the free, public-facing TripActions Business Travel Recovery™ site.

Finding out what a travel management company can actually deliver on today, outside of its company name, is the work that you achieve through an RFP.

Five Key Areas to Research with a Travel Management RFP

The search for a corporate travel management solution today often requires organizations to make a choice between cost reduction, quality control, and a great traveler experience. But that doesn’t need to be the case.

There are 5 major areas to look for when submitting a request for proposal in today’s corporate travel management landscape to determine if the technology can best help you control costs, increase visibility and adoption, deliver duty of care, and provide your traveling employees with the choice, options, and flexibility that they need.

Cost Reductions: Modern travel management solutions take advantage of traveler and technology-forward solutions to keep costs in check -- and many of the savings show up in unique ways.

Traveler-First Philosophy: A traveler-first philosophy helps to drive better adoption and create efficiencies in a managed travel program.

Technology-Forward Foundation: Technology sits at the center of our lives and, today’s travel management solutions need a comprehensive suite of technical capabilities to properly and efficiently handle the booking and management of travelers.

Inventory: Inventory is at the heart of any travel management platform. A comprehensive TMC will have a diverse source of content.

Support: Balancing technology and VIP service when supporting travelers is an integral part of any successful travel management tool. Here’s what you should check for when vetting corporate travel support.

A great user experience inside of a travel program helps push adoption up and frustration down, a process that directly drives cost savings. By keeping the user experience front and center, forward-thinking companies can ultimately drive significant program savings while travelers reach peak happiness.

The RFP Template You Need to Succeed

Legacy corporate travel RFP templates that have been passed around from 10+ years ago likely aren’t asking the right questions or review process for today’s travel landscape. By adopting a new RFP template that reflects today’s modern landscape, internal stakeholders can expand their thinking about what is possible for travel management programs and find the technology and products that take their policies, visibility, and control to the next level. Business travelers today expect a consumer-grade experience and superior service level from their corporate travel agency business so user experience will be an important factor in achieving your desired adoption rates.

For those already willing to start the process, TripActions has prepared an RFP Success Kit.

This includes a five-page RFP template with all the questions you should be asking prospective TMCs as well as an accompanying guidebook to help account managers determine whether a particular solution offers all the travel management services they need to manage their corporate travel today. Download the TripActions RFP Success Kit today.

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