We’ve been talking about the skills travel managers need to succeed. So far, we’ve addressed these important topics:
- Ten skills travel managers need today
- The data travel managers digest
- Tools that help travel managers deliver satisfying service
- The importance of building cross-departmental connections
- Cultural intelligence in business travel management
Now we’re adding to that list with another critical skill travel managers should develop to be effective at their job – negotiation.
Travel management professionals must not underestimate the importance of negotiation in accomplishing travel goals. Here, we discuss corporate travel buyer resources that help secure profitable contracts with suppliers.
Your TMC can be a Powerful Ally
As is true with other topics we’ve discussed, a competent travel management company, or TMC, is an excellent resource when it comes time for travel managers to negotiate contracts with suppliers.
One of the most obvious situations that comes to mind is with hotels, which are prime candidates for negotiating preferred rates in cities that companies frequently travel to for business. Often, a TMC can leverage wider spend and influence to negotiate a better rate for travel managers than they could achieve on their own.
This is a practice that Travel and Transport regularly engages in for clients, according to Joel Bailey, Senior Vice President of Customer Solutions.
“Our partner solutions group consults and manages the research, negotiation and recommendation process from beginning to end for clients. We can identify markets with the most spend, procure proposals from hotels, evaluate contracts and help our clients get the best rates,” he says. “We also have our own hotel program with thousands of potentially better negotiated rates than what the client may be able to achieve on their own.”
Sometimes that rate difference might just apply to certain cities where companies have lower travel to, but in which Travel and Transport is able to secure a more favorable rate.
In addition to air, hotel and rental car, the global travel management company also has negotiated rates with car sharing services like Uber and Lyft as well as leading duty of care providers like WorldAware.
With larger purchasing power and more collective experience and connections across the travel ecosystem, travel management companies can be a huge aid in helping travel managers negotiate favorable contracts.
Ask for Benchmarking Data
Another area where a travel management company can provide assistance to travel managers is by providing them with
benchmarking data that helps them see whether or not the rates their procurement teams are securing are in line with industry standards.
“Some clients just want our insight into whether or not the contracts they are negotiating are good ones,” says Nancy Rissky, senior vice president of account management for Travel and Transport. “Travel managers who are more comfortable with negotiating contracts may just ask our team to provide benchmarking data to see how their contract compares to other similar size companies in their industry. Others may desire more support and we can provide that additional expertise. Whatever level of assistance our clients need, we are happy to provide it.”
Chris Bartram, Director of Contracts and Procurement for HDR, finds such data helpful as his team negotiates contracts with suppliers.
“While we negotiate directly with airlines and rental car companies, we leverage Travel and Transport’s RFP services for hotels,” he says. “They are able to provide me with data about discounts and rates that makes it easy to see where we should be in comparison to the marketplace.”
Review Your Contracts Carefully
A final point to make on the topic of negotiating contracts is to review agreements very carefully. Even the smallest detail, when overlooked, could carry the potential for significant costs down the road to a company.
Travel managers with less experience negotiating contracts may want to have their procurement company or travel management company review their travel contracts closely to ensure no tricky terms or confusing conditions are attached that could spell trouble down the road for their company.
What negotiating pitfalls have you experienced over the course of your career as a travel manager? What do you wish you knew then that you know now? Talk to one of our corporate travel experts today about how much your organization could benefit from Travel and Transport’s negotiation and benchmarking services.