For fast-growing businesses, everyday decisions are often a moving target. Your needs today might be very different from your needs a month from now.
Which begs the question, when is the right time to bring in a partner to manage your business travel? And what does that even look like?
Why partner with a travel management company?
Travel management companies (TMC) give you the structure and support you need to handle a large volume of travel bookings.
They’ll give you a platform where travellers, travel arrangers and travel managers can book business trips. They’ll provide support when your travellers need it on the road if travel plans don’t go as planned. And they’ll help you mine your travel data for insights to find opportunities to save and identify areas that need attention.
A travel management company will transform scattershot bookings into a strategic lever to help you save, build your company culture, gain a competitive advantage and even give you a leg up on attracting and retaining talent.
When is the right time?
The short answer is: now. If you’d like to streamline travel spend while enhancing the travel experience for your employees, then it’s time to bring in a travel management company. And for fast-growing businesses, it makes even more sense to get systems in place—with details such as a travel policy and approval processes—before an onslaught of new hires makes it exponentially more difficult.
‘We often talk to companies that ask, “am I too small to receive a benefit from partnering with a corporate travel management company?”’ says Samantha Shoemaker, Senior Director of Worldwide Sales Development for Egencia. ‘Are you looking for cost savings, or process improvement, or an amenity that creates a hassle-free experience for your travellers when they’re on the road? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then I think it’s the right time to look for a travel management company.’
What’s the next step?
The first step in shifting to managed travel is to take stock of how you view travel. ‘The biggest piece of advice I would give fast-growing companies switching from unmanaged travel to managed travel is to think of travel not as a cost, but as an investment,’ says Ronan Bergez, Senior Sales Director for EMEA at Egencia. ‘And as an investment, think about the benefits in terms of value, in terms of sustainability, and also in terms of duty of care, which we know all play key roles in every company today.’
Thinking of travel as a strategic investment unlocks all sorts of doors for doing more with your travel. Instead of simply asking, ‘what’s the cheapest way to book flights and hotel stays?’, you can factor in elements such as traveller well-being, employee safety, culture fit, risk management, volume consolidation for negotiated rates and much more.
How do I find the right match?
Once you’re looking at business travel through the lens of a strategic investment, it’s time to ask what type of travel management company would be the best fit with your company.
Here are three questions to answer that are a great place to start:
- How technologically-savvy are your travellers?
Are your employees used to manually balancing books and writing out shopping lists, or are they more likely to use mobile apps for everything? Based on your answer, you’ll either want to find a TMC that has highly trained travel agents or one with an intuitive, user-friendly platform and mobile app where travellers can largely self-service their travel needs.
- How important is data to you?
For most fast-growing companies, data is crucial to making informed business decisions. When to hire. Where to expand into new markets. What kinds of new innovations to invest in. Ask yourself, are you comfortable with your travel expenses being a blind spot? Or would it serve you better to find a company to partner with who could give you access to real-time insights and analysis based on consolidated travel data?
- How important are strategic savings to you?
Fast-growing businesses have to keep a close eye on their bottom line both to keep the business healthy and to prove to their investors that they’re spending—and saving—strategically. If saving strategically is a priority for you, look for a TMC who can help you save on travel costs in a variety of ways, without compromising your company culture or taking perks away from your employees. For the best value for money, look for a TMC with both a wide range of negotiated rates and machine-learning technology to help you save behind the scenes and best serve your business needs.
The bottom line? Don’t wait until a problem arises with your business travel. Take a proactive approach by partnering with a TMC now, so you can start shaping a travel programme that will serve you not just today, but at every stage of your growth.
Learn more by downloading our checklist: How to find the right TMC to scale your business