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Our Guide to Pain-Free RFPs for Corporate Travel Services

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Our Guide to Pain-Free RFPs for Corporate Travel Services

A lot goes into business travel. It’s not just about getting your team from A to B with a plane ticket and a hotel.

A successful corporate travel policy incorporates convenience, efficiency, cost and comfort – and considers risk management, logistics, traveller safety and wellbeing, sustainability, trip ROI and more. It’s a complex project that requires expert support.

That’s why businesses with significant travel spend (typically over £50k per annum) will outsource their travel management to specialists. And in doing so, they benefit from a consolidated payment solution, round-the-clock support, improved buying content, detailed reporting and more.

But how do you find the perfect travel management company (TMC) – who you can trust to deliver on your unique corporate travel requirements? One way to compare and contrast qualified providers is through an RFP…

What is an RFP Travel Programme?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal document issued by businesses to product or service providers, requesting a project work and cost plan. In corporate travel management, an RFP is sent to a pre-qualified shortlist of TMCs to help businesses compare services, pricing, technology and more.

Any business with corporate travel needs can benefit from travel management services. Working with an expert TMC saves on the time, costs, risks and challenges involved with organising and executing business trips in-house.

But corporate travel is more than just a mix of admin and tech. Business travellers are real people, and their trips need to be organised by those who understand their needs and can tailor each flight, hotel stay, transfer and more to the individual and business – and be on hand to adapt to any challenges as they arise.

This is why businesses need to trust their TMC and not just pick an off-the-shelf solution. RFPs allow businesses to evaluate and compare the top candidates and choose their new partner with confidence and data.

The Travel Management RFP Process

Issuing an RFP isn’t as simple as just drafting up a template document and sending it to a list of travel management providers. In fact, most of the value gained from the RFP process comes in the pre-qualifying steps.

The first step is pre-vetting suppliers – investing time in getting to know the people and technology behind each TMC, before shortlisting around 3-5 providers to qualify for the RFP stage.

Here, Good Travel Management’s corporate travel experts provide their top tips for pre-qualifying potential partners and getting the most value from your RFP:

  • Meet the team – arrange informal meetings with the TMC teams to get to know the people behind the offering. Not only will you find out much more from an in-person chat than an email, but you’ll also start to build valuable relationships with those who’ll be supporting your travel programme day in, day out. This may include bookers, finance experts and IT professionals.

 

  • Compare culture – beyond the corporate travel expertise and the tech, it’s important for businesses to partner with TMCs that represent a positive culture fit and share the same values and goals. Bonus tip – check out potential partners’ GlassDoor reviews for a genuine reflection of how they operate.

 

  • Define value areas – be clear on the key pillars upon which potential partners will be evaluated – allowing TMCs to be compared against identical criteria. Good Travel Management recommends the following areas:

 

Service – what is the scale of the travel management offering and which key services are included? Who are the account managers?

Tech – which technologies power the travel management offering and how do these align and integrate with those used by the business? This may also include reporting software.

Value – what is the financial value of the offering? Remember, the cheapest bid doesn’t represent the most valuable contract, so it’s important to accurately assess the value provided to the business, not just the cost.

 

  • Dig into data – encourage data sharing between the business and TMC at the earliest opportunity, including spend data, travel policy, details on previous corporate travel expenses and more. This leads to informed conversations and accurate RFPs.

 

  • Size matters – understand the size of the TMCs you want to include from a TTV perspective. Do they align with your business needs and annual spend? Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or vice versa? What are their global capabilities and is this important to you?

 

  • Speak to peers, suppliers and customers – tap into existing industry knowledge and talk to trusted peers with successful corporate travel policies. Which TMCs do they work with? What can you learn from their feedback?

 

  • Learn from experience – get your hands on case studies, references and testimonials from previous projects. In travel, experience is everything!

 

  • Shortlist 3-5 suppliers – this activity should set the business up to issue the RFP. At this point, the business should vet the full list of potential suppliers and identify between 3 and 5 suppliers to advance to the formal proposal process.

 

  • Create your own pricing template – before issuing the formal RFP, create a fixed pricing template for all costs and fees. This makes it easier to compare and contrast figures for each TMC, without allowing respondents to obscure or hide fees.

 

  • Bid or No-Bid – TMCs will look to avoid investing time and cost into responding to RFPs they don’t believe they can or will win. So, if you invite too many TMCs to bid – or aren’t transparent enough with your needs – you may deter responses and end up with a limited talent pool to choose from.

 

  • Anti-bribery – while it’s important to get to know the TMCs involved in the RFP, this shouldn’t come at the expense of anti-bribery regulations. Set parameters before chatting to potential partners and remember – any opportunities afforded to one TMC must be afforded to all!

What is Included in a Travel Management RFP?

It’s now time to construct and issue the RFP document to the shortlist of pre-qualified corporate travel providers. This document should include the following:

  • Project details – outlining the requirements of the business, including estimated project scope and any important details that will help the responding businesses shape their proposal and provide the most accurate bid. This may include travel policy compliance and reporting requirements.

 

  • Technology requirements – detailing any specific tech demands or requesting information about existing technologies. This may include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools and expense management platforms.

 

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) – defining the expected deliverables from the TMC, for example, response times and availability of support.

 

  • Pricing structure – requesting all fee structures, payment terms and any additional costs, and using a cost template to make responses uniform and comparable.

 

  • Timeline and next steps – including all key details, such as submission deadlines, evaluation periods and contract announcements.

 

Using the details provided in the RFP, corporate travel management firms are then invited to submit a proposal to win the contract.

Evaluating and Weighting Proposals

There is no single universal formula or matrix for scoring corporate travel RFPs. Businesses may prioritise or weight unique factors differently depending on their requirements.

However, all scoring systems will typically rank respondents based on some or all of the following criteria:

  • Service
  • Technology
  • Reporting
  • Cost and commercials
  • Culture fit

Awarding the Contract

The issuing business then reviews the completed RFPs and will respond to the successful TMC by the deadline agreed in the proposal document.

The successful TMC will be one which not only meets the required project, technology and cost requirements outlined by the business, but represents a perfect culture fit.

Corporate travel is about people, and businesses need to know they can rely on a TMC to adapt to their needs, tailor their offering to their changing requirements and provide the human skills and responses needed to nurture a positive and successful long-term relationship.

Good Travel Management

Looking for your next travel management partner? Good Travel Management is a human-led service, backed by tech.

Simplify your corporate travel with our expert specialists who care. From door to door, we take care of your team’s travel needs, so you can focus on what matters. With efficiency, sustainability, and personal well-being at the core, our mission is to optimise your business travel strategy and save you money.

For more information on our offering – and how we can work with you to execute successful business travel – contact our team today.

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