Put a concrete travel policy in place which will speak about the cabin class, flight tickets, hotel bookings, authority, and permissions for official tour, etc. This will help the travel management company to avoid making any kind of mistakes.
Today, an organization needs comprehensive travel management solutions to meet its complex, urgent, and constant requirements. Hiring a travel management company for the same can help a company to completely outsource its tour and accommodation-related work. Look out for hiring a total service provider who will help you out with everything related to the field. However, as you will be entrusting this company with travel plans for your entire organization, it's important that you hire a capable and reliable agency. Apart from being available 24/7, they should also be proactive in providing you good service.
Before shortlisting and hiring companies, do some online research. If you have friends in other companies who can recommend you an agency, there's nothing like it. Go to the BBB website and read about the complaints filed against them. Eliminate companies who have a large amount of negative reviews, and go for the ones which have been appreciated by people. This will help select the 'best from the rest.'
List Out Requirements
It is essential that before you summon the travel management companies for interview, you must list out your requirements and expectations from them so that it will be easier for you to communicate and ask them the right questions. Do not leave anything to your imagination, and write down all the questions that may be in your mind. Ask them clearly whether they can arrange for travel to destinations that are difficult to travel.
Call the company's representatives for an interview. Prepare a questionnaire that will help clear all your doubts. Know about their number of years of experience, prominent clients, services offered, cost for a yearly contract, etc. Select a company that will match your requirements, budget, and will have a global reach.
For a big company who has frequent fliers, having a representative stationed in its premises may be a necessity. However, this may call for an expensive contract. Hence if you are an SME, you will have to communicate with them through email and phone. Hire an agency which is ready to offer a number of services at a reasonable cost. Conducting a cost-benefit ratio for all the companies will definitely help.
Most of the companies whom you will interview will quote a higher price as you will hire them for the services of all employees of the company. The bigger the company, higher will be the quotation. However, use your transactional skills to negotiate an amount which will be in your budget. Having the name of your reputable company on their list of clients is also going to help you. So, hire a company that will be ready to negotiate the amount.
The services that they undertake are booking air fares, arranging for car rental, and arranging hotel accommodation. They also need to prepare travel documents for the employees who will take up traveling. They also have to ensure safety and security of the employees and undertake travel data management. Many large companies book air tickets for their clients using Global Distribution Systems (GDS).
Some companies even offer packages where they enable employees to do their own bookings. Such companies charge relatively lesser than those who provide all the services.
If the employees from your company need to travel abroad frequently, it is advisable that you hire an agency which will have global offices or partners who can help out in case of an emergency. For example, if an employee has his travel documents stolen in a foreign country, the travel management country should arrange for his papers in collaboration with their foreign counterpart. Hence, hire a company with global network and reach.
You should hire a company that is flexible and does not decline to work if there is an urgent requirement. If your CEO wants to suddenly travel to another state by flight to meet some important clients on Sunday night, the company should be in a position to arrange for his travel and hotel bookings. They should understand the gravity of the situation and work accordingly.
Ethics and Work Practices
It is important that the company you choose conducts business ethically and always puts the interest of your organization ahead of personal gains. They should try to give you maximum cost advantage on air fare and hotel bookings, using their network and not the other way round. Unnecessarily booking you on expensive flights and accommodations to gain commission should be avoided at all costs. They should have a work ethics policy in place and a system to monitor the monetary transactions.
When you will interview the companies, know from them how comfortable they are while dealing with a sudden change in schedule. Suppose a senior management employee misses his plane back home due to an extended meeting, they should be able to arrange to book him on another or accommodate him in a good hotel immediately. All this has to be done while the person is waiting at the airport to hear about the arrangement. Hence, hire a company that is adept at change management.
Hire a company that has a travel booking and expense interface which will allow an employee to access it from any corner of the world. This is an important facility which is offered by many established companies today. It will help people to plan their official trips, list out the expenses incurred, and update the receipts. Hence, you should ideally go for a company that will offer this service.
The company representatives who will work with your organization need to understand your requirement and act accordingly. They need to have global knowledge, be proactive, and reliable. For example, if they come to know that a trip is not going to happen, they should cancel the bookings right away. They need to respect and adhere to your company's travel policy.
It is important that the company you hire will offer and guide the employees regarding their travel insurance. There are some serious legal implications if the company does not take travel insurance for employees who will travel. Also, they need an authority to help them out through the various types of travel insurance policies and find the ones that suit them the best.
If your travel company enjoys cordial relations with the travel suppliers, you will be able to reap many benefits. You can get upgrades for air travel and hotels, priority for car availability, discounts on the charges, etc. Hence, hire a company that will enable you to make considerable savings through this.
After finalizing the company, you will have to sign an agreement with them for a certain duration of time. It will include clauses like type of work, cost, dates of agreement, termination criteria, etc. If it is a relatively new company, try them out for six months initially before forging a long-term agreement with them. This will give you time to judge their performance and efficiency. Once you are convinced that they are really good at their work, you can extend the contract.
As both parties will be new to the policies and procedure of each other's working, it is advisable that you allocate a source from your company to help them out initially. Once they know the working of your company, start monitoring their performance so that you know you have done the right thing by hiring them.
Compare all the companies on every front before zeroing in on the right one. Now that you know how to select a travel management company, choose one which will offer you maximum advantage at an optimal cost and help save on the traveling expenses.