With South Africa's economy still volatile, most companies are keeping focussed on streamlining operations and eliminating wasteful expenditure. While your travel expenses may not be your biggest cost item, every rand misspent and not maximised is a rand wasted.
There is a misconception among many SMEs that if they book their business travel themselves, it will be quicker and cheaper. In most instances, this simply isn’t true. Although there are costs associated when partnering with a Travel Management Company (TMC), the fees are negligible when considering the time, effort and money a TMC can save your business in the long run.
Here are four questions you should be asking yourself to ensure you get the most out of your TMC and travel budget:
1. DOES MY TMC HAVE SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIPS FOR SAVINGS AND SERVICE THAT MY BUSINESS CAN BENEFIT FROM?
Negotiating preferred agreements is a smart way to reduce a company’s travel expenses, but not every company has enough travel volume to negotiate worth-while deals with suppliers such as airlines, hotels and car rental companies.
Ask your TMC what buying power and partnerships they have in place with suppliers from which you can benefit. FCBT has the global buying power and backing of the Flight Centre Travel Group and leverages its relationships with suppliers to give customers benefits, such as avoiding having to pay up-front deposits when renting a car.
2. ARE WE GETTING THE SUPPORT REQUIRED IN EMERGENCIES?
Employees are unlikely to be travel experts and that makes finding the best deal unlikely, and mistakes can end up costing the company.
A good TMC will not only source the right travel options for your business and staff, but they will also be on call to manage your travels when things go awry - when your flight is cancelled or delayed, you’ve missed your connection and are stranded in an airport that's far from home.
Travel management is not only about saving the day when something unexpected happens, it is putting in place a travel policy and programme to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. Having a clear corporate travel policy, and applying it consistently, are important steps SMEs can take to help to reduce travel costs, streamline their travel management and achieve the greatest ROI for their travel spend.
3. IS MY TMC SAVING MY BUSINESS AND STAFF TIME AND EFFORT?
Travel management is not just about getting the best deal. It’s about spending the least possible time and effort in finding it, and here is where a TMC should help you. From planning and booking, to after the traveller has returned, your travel expert should be making it easy to travel.
You could spend hours comparing prices on various websites to ensure your TMC has found the lowest airfare, making sure all the documents are in place and reconciling your expenses when you return. Let your TMC do it for you, saving you time and effort.
4. WHAT CONTRACTS AND PAYMENT OPTIONS DOES MY TMC OFFER?
Cashflow concerns and getting tied into contracts is one thing that will make most business owners run a mile. If your TMC is asking you to sign a fixed contract and insisting on one payment solution that suits it, you need to reassess your options.
It is vital that any TMC partner offers a range of flexible payment options to suit your business, including an interest-free credit account.
By asking a few simple questions, it becomes quite straightforward to determine whether your company has put the proper TMC solution in place. If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, consider switching to a TMC like Flight Centre Business Travel.
To get more tips and advice on selecting the perfect TMC partner for your business, download our latest whitepaper ‘Is your TMC really saving you money’.