The corporate travel RFP guide for busy procurement managers [PREVIEW]
The corporate travel
RFP guide for busy
It’s time to get what you
want from your next
corporate travel RFP
With expectations rising and resources shrinking, the pressure on procurement departments increases by the day.
The volatile economic climate that most industries find themselves operating in right now means that the demand for maximum value from every supplier has never been greater and it’s up to procurement managers to deliver.
How can procurement teams get one step ahead and make the RFP process work for them, rather than against them?
By ensuring an efficient RFP process that delivers the one thing that every procurement manager wants – a TMC to provide the kind of value that, in turn, will show just how valuable procurement really is.
As a TMC we see hundreds of RFP documents every year. Although we don’t sort them into the good, the bad and the ugly, we can spot an RFP that is shrewd in finding a TMC that truly is the right fit over an RFP that uses a template from a mile away.
In this guide we share our expert insight, giving global procurement managers the tools and resources they need to create a successful RFP.
1. How to decide whether an RFP is right for your organisation
2. How to review your current corporate travel programme
3. 10 Ways to streamline your next corporate travel RFP
4. What the corporate travel industry is talking about right now...And what a potential TMC's opinion says about them
5. A 3 step strategy for managing stakeholders during the RFP process
6. RFP questions that secure consistently high customer service around the globe
7. RFP questions that secure travel technology that works
8. RFP questions that secure cost-saving strategies
9. RFP questions that secure safer travel for your employees
10. Artificial Intelligence meets procurement: What does the future hold?
11. So, what next?
How to decide whether
holding a formal RFP process
is right for your organisation
Discussion around whether the traditional RFP still has a place in the procurement of corporate travel rears its head every six months.
With evidence and opinion to support both sides of the argument, a conclusion is yet to be reached and the RFP lives to fight another day.
As a TMC who receives hundreds of RFPs every year, there certainly hasn’t been a noticeable decline in the number of organisations who are choosing to make this method the backbone of their procurement process.
The truth is, the fate of the RFP lies in the hands of both the organisation going out to tender and the TMCs who respond to it.
Whether an RFP is the right route for your organisation might have changed over the years, so here’s some points to consider when making that crucial decision:
The drawbacks of a corporate travel RFP
The most frequently cited drawback of using an RFP during the procurement of corporate travel services is how much time it can take to carry out properly.
Due to the very nature of an RFP and the inherently methodical approach needed to accurately compare suppliers’ offerings, the bid
document itself can become cumbersome and grow in size each time it's issued.
Unlike the procurement of supplies such as stationery or catering, an organisation’s travel requirements can change significantly
between tender periods and so RFPs should be altered accordingly.
However, assessing a current programme, considering future requirements and editing RFP questions in order to reflect this takes time and resource – a factor that can make the RFP seem like an unappealing prospect.
The benefits of a corporate travel RFP
The leading benefit of issuing an RFP to find a new corporate travel supplier is that the document allows you to ask direct and specific questions to your list of potential suppliers in a volume that face to face discussions or presentations rarely allow.
Running parallel to this is the fact that RFPs allow buyers to request that answers are submitted in a way that works for them, standardising the format and making it easier for procurement departments and other stakeholders to compare offerings – a task that has become increasingly more challenging over time.
An RFP also provides ample opportunity for buyers and travel suppliers to build agreements and sufficiently understand each other’s requirements in order to reach an optimal solution, avoiding every procurement department’s worst nightmare; the voicing of differing expectations during contract negotiation.
How to decide whether an RFP is right for your organisation
Whether an RFP is essential is largely down to your organisation’s unique culture, your ways of working and your previous experience. Factors to consider include:
Leaner organisations could struggle to dedicate the necessary time to a formal procurement process and in this instance looking into ways to streamline searching for a new travel management agency would be most beneficial. However, for larger organisations with multiple locations across the globe the RFP is an essential part of the procurement process and helps to distill supplier offerings for an easier evaluation.
Ultimately, any decision regarding whether to implement the use of an RFP when procuring a new TMC will be guided by past experiences. If you’ve skipped over a formal document in the past and have found suppliers that worked well, then this method clearly works for your organisation – with the opposite being said for any methods that have produced less than desirable results. The only caveat with this is that tradition is not always the strongest argument for why or why not an organisation should or should not use an RFP to find a new travel management partner and it is best practice to review your approach at the end of each contract.
Nature of requirements
If your organisation requires a travel programme that encompasses multiple locations across the globe, relies on overcoming country-specific logistics and manages a large travel spend and many travellers then an RFP can really help to ensure that you find the right TMC. In short, the more complicated your travel requirements are, the more an RFP can assist in clarifying what potential TMCs are offering. Although the task of procuring one travel supplier for multiple markets might seem like a mammoth task if you’ve never done it before, it can be easily be broken into more manageable projects – we’ll show you how in the rest of this guide.
How to review your
So, you’ve decided that an RFP is the best way to find a corporate travel agent that’s the right fit for your organisation, but before you can hit send on that document you need to assess just how happy, or unhappy, your organisation and its travellers are with your current solution.
This is the first stumbling block for procurement departments who are looking for an efficient process.
Due to the emotive nature of corporate travel, the discussion can often loop around itself and spin out of control, taking more time than had originally been planned for.
Here’s our advice for laser-focused discussion ensuring you’ve sufficiently assessed your current solution before proceeding with an RFP:
Gathering metric data can be challenging, especially if corporate travel is currently unmanaged within your organisation. However, numbers will really reveal what’s currently going on in your organisation, as well as allowing potential suppliers to get a handle on how your organisation travels. It’s best practice to gather the following information:
• How many people are travelling?
• Travel spend
• Spend per travel type
• Popular destinations
• Negotiated rates
• Average lead time
• Compliance rates
• Online vs offline bookings
• How do you book?
• How do you currently pay for travel?
• What is the approval process?
Due to the emotive, and at times frustrating, nature of corporate travel, everyone will have an opinion on what should be a priority when searching for a new TMC. In fact, about half of those people will profess to be able to ‘do a better job’ themselves, so there’s usually no trouble gathering feedback about your current TMC. However, turning the stack of opinions filling up your inbox into useful guidance for the procurement process can be more challenging.
Asking general questions will only ever provide general answers, so our over-arching advice would be to ask considered, focused questions that you’ve planned ahead of time. It’s also worth paying attention to how you gather these opinions; will face-to-face discussions work best for your organisation? Or would an online survey be a better fit for your company culture?
Here’s some inspiration as to what to quiz your stakeholders on:
• Travel managers: What’s the most common feedback they receive about your current TMC? How much of their time is spent managing travel? Do they feel your current TMC is proactive enough? How do they find any technology they use as part of your current solution? How well do travellers stick to travel policy?
• Corporate travellers: What’s the best experience they’ve had with booking/arranging their travel? What’s the worst? If they could change one thing about travelling for work, what would it be?
• Senior stakeholders (HR, finance, operations, etc): How safe do they feel travellers are when travelling for work? Have there been any serious issues when using current TMC? How confident do they feel that your current corporate travel programme is compliant with law and regulations? Do they feel that the organisation
receives a lot of value from your current TMC? If not, why is that?
Once you’ve gathered both your metrics and your written opinions, it’s time to compare the two. Do they match up? Or are there discrepancies between the data and the lived experience of your organisation? There’s no right or wrong answer, but understanding this will give you a more comprehensive view of your current solution.
I find preparing for a corporate travel RFP
- Straightforward and simple
- Challenging and rushed
- Somewhere in between
If you'd like to get your copy of 'The Corporate Travel RFP Guide for Busy Procurement Managers' in its entirety then click here