The process of selecting a new travel partner can often feel like ticking boxes on an overwhelming checklist: they must value customer service, offer the latest tools, have strong data analytics, and boast a proven track record within the industry – all while staying within budget.
With these multiple priorities competing for attention, it may feel tempting to focus only on budget or technology and downplay the importance of a TMC’s level of care and service. However, the best travel management companies know it is critical to build authentic relationships with each organization and tailor travel policies to support their wider company goals.
Choosing a TMC is more than a business transaction: it is a partnership that should be built on trust. When in the market for a new travel management company, here are some of the top questions to consider to ensure your values are in alignment.
Do they work with companies like yours?
Small to mid-size organizations can sometimes feel dwarfed when considering a new travel partner, especially when looking at mega TMCs structured primarily to service equally large corporate clients. Rather than selecting a partner that may make you feel like another number on a spreadsheet, it’s worth taking the time to seek out a travel expert experienced in working with similarly-sized companies. By finding a TMC that prioritizes each team member (and sees travelers as individuals), you can help ensure a lasting partnership based on trust.
Are they flexible?
Look for a travel management company that offers customizable solutions and prioritizes each organization’s unique needs. Flexibility is key. In fact, implementing a flexible travel policy can lead to a happier workplace and a more competitive, financially successful company.
At Direct Travel, we offer TravelStack™ – a digital collection of curated technologies and services designed to elevate our clients’ travel programs. This approach allows each organization to compile their own unique selection of services, be it CIBTvisas for international travel or Crisis24 for threat monitoring and safety assistance. A flexible TMC will evaluate an organization and align their services with their unique business goals, because ultimately, what works for one company doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Do they support your employees fully as people, not just as travelers?
A truly effective travel partner values employee wellness and offers a holistic approach to traveler support. The right travel management company goes far beyond the basic duty of care and views themselves as an extension of your team.
For example, if work-life balance is an important pillar for your organization, consider seeking out a TMC that partners with hotels to help employees embrace bleisure travel. Or if your company is looking for additional ways to reward their frequent travelers, a travel management company that offers a dining program with loyalty points could be a logical match. When a company takes so many internal steps to prioritize their own team’s wellness, it is only suitable for their TMC to match the same level of care that employees are accustomed to.
How do they use automation to amplify their level of service?
Automated systems can be a fast and effective way for a TMC to offer travel assistance. When considering a new partner, it is worth asking what automation they have in place, such as unused ticket management. These tickets can quickly drain a budget, so having access to a tool that automatically searches for open tickets and advises on approaching deadlines can provide an organization with inevitable cost savings.
You may also consider a travel partner that utilizes AI to assist with routine requests. At Direct Travel, we provide fast and seamless support with the help of Simon, our virtual assistant. Simon brings value to corporate travel programs by helping with tasks like password resets, itinerary retrieval, and traveler profile updates. Using this innovative technology can help a TMC adapt to the evolving needs of their clients, but automation should not replace their human interaction and support. In our case, Simon complements the work of our live agent teams, who continue to provide the highest level of service and expertise our clients deserve.
How can they support your business objectives?
When in the market for a new travel partner, a company should consider what initiatives are at the core of their identity and look for a TMC that supports those principles with the same level of authenticity. Having transparency with a travel partner who shares the same goals leads to a more trustworthy relationship.
An organization focused on their sustainability efforts, for instance, could be looking for ways to offset their travel in a more environmentally responsible matter. A compatible partner for this company might then suggest a carbon dioxide measurement, reduction, and offset service like Direct ATPI Halo. Not only would this accomplish their immediate objective of CO2 offsetting for unavoidable travel, but it would support their broader, company-wide ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) goals.
A TMC should understand an organization’s values – supplying the team with actionable steps and personalized assistance to implement those strategies in their program. When partnering with a TMC that mirrors the same values, a company gains a trusted partner who can shape a more inclusive, valuable, and effective travel program.
What happens next?
Once the perfect partner has been identified, we recommend taking these steps to begin a relationship with a new travel management company. But if you still feel uncertain about finding the right match, remember to look for a partner that provides the highest level of service, shares your values, and supports your travelers.
At Direct Travel, we take care in getting to know your unique needs and values so that we form a true partnership in action, not just in words. If you’re ready to build a new relationship based on trust and service, contact us to see how we can bring value to your travel program.