How to Identify the Right Air Travel Suppliers in a Crowd

Why is finding the right air travel suppliers for your organization so difficult? Because finding the best service for your employees and travel policy at the lowest rate is a tall order to fill.

To achieve those goals, your organization must research air travel suppliers, uncover which ones provide services that suit your needs, then develop a negotiating strategy driven by hard facts. Conversations should stem from a solid foundation of verifiable data. Travel managers need to understand key traveler origins and destinations, percentages of travel in monopoly markets, shiftable spend, waiver funds and much more.

Selecting air travel vendors that match your organization doesn't have to be a headache. With the right data and a trustworthy partner, you can perfect how your organization prepares for travel.

Use Data to Determine Needs

As with any major business decision, stakeholders require actionable intelligence that identifies needs and establishes optimized strategies for reaching goals. When it comes to air travel management, those goals include things like cost savings and avoidance, quality of service, duty of care, an attractive variety of innovative products and a low carbon footprint.

Before your organization takes any action regarding its future travel management plans, you should first determine the state of your corporate travel program today. Only by developing informed operational benchmarks will your company be able to steer its decision-making in the right direction.

Travel managers should start by identifying the specific key performance indicators that mean the most to their missions. They should work with a dedicated consulting partner with the ability to benchmark and report on air travel in order to ensure that their organizations understand the big picture. Quality of spend is likely to have a major impact on whether a supplier is willing to negotiate. As your organization prepares to negotiate, position your requirements so that the advantages to both parties are clearly laid out.

In addition to data-driven metrics, your organization can also utilize its unique position in the marketplace to gain deeper discounts. It's all about what you can offer. If your company can help a vendor break into a market, then the vendor may be willing to cede additional value at a lower rate. Negotiation is a two-way street, after all. If you can offer something that will reduce supplier risk, such as agreeing to a consolidated purchasing plan, you could realize greater savings.

Pick the Right Air Travel Suppliers

Armed with this data, your organization is ready for the negotiating table. Throughout the research phase, a few vendor names likely floated to surface and stayed at or near the top of your list. When you have a list of potential suppliers, take your time negotiating, as there’s little value in rushing this process. You want to ensure that your two organizations can work well together.

If you realize that you may have to concede a few of your demands, consider ranking your needs in order of importance to your organization. Doing so will prevent you from seeming uncertain during negotiations. Just make sure you receive something substantial in return for any concessions you make. This process may take a few meetings to complete, so remain focused on your goals and keep looking for ways to forge a middle ground on which both parties can amiably agree.

After you come to an agreement, your mission is to develop a strong relationship with your supplier. Over time, you may be able to secure further discounts as you build trust with the vendor. Be prepared to reevaluate the relationship at regular intervals. Monitor your KPIs every quarter to determine if and when renegotiation is necessary.

Choose a Trustworthy Travel Partner

Negotiating with travel suppliers requires operational knowledge, skill and experience. When your organization partners with the right travel management company, it gains all three plus a whole lot more.

TMCs study your organization and use their vast knowledge base and industry resources to handpick air travel suppliers that meet your needs on every level. Your TMC partner will learn about your company's value to identify what makes it a unique part of the global market, then work with you to select the right suppliers based on their analysis, negotiate rates on airfare, standardize policies and improve duty of care. TMCs can also provide access to technology that can optimize how your employees interact with airlines during travel. Throughout the partnership, a TMC will strive to improve processes, optimize workflows and monitor vital KPIs for continuous improvement.

Ready to learn more about how a TMC can help your organization realize better negotiated rates with travel suppliers? Contact us today.