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Business Travel Guides Travel Management

Everything You Need To Know About The Business Travel Management RFP Process

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Navigating the Business Travel Management RFP Process

Your journey to find a business travel management company (TMC) doesn’t have to be a turbulent one. Whether you’re developing a travel policy to better manage your duty of care in a pandemic world, consolidating travel services to streamline your program, leading a periodic rebid requirement, or wanting a clearer picture of your travel data to inform your decision making, we’ve broken down the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to help you reach your final destination unscathed.

Step 1: Determine Needs and Goals

The RFP process is like hiring a new employee. Before you jump to requesting resumes, you need to develop a job description to advertise for the most qualified candidate, one who is interested in a long-term relationship with your organization, meshes with your institution’s culture, and performs at a consistently high level.

Similar to collaborating on a job description for an employee who will work with multiple departments in your organization, you need to assemble a team to conduct an internal evaluation of your company’s needs and expectations for the TMC position, both current and long term. Include all of your travel stakeholders—or a representative from your stakeholder groups—as well as upper and middle management who have a vested interest in developing your travel policy and fulfilling your travel program.

In light of the recent pandemic, we recommend including HR to review duty-of-care needs and traveler well-being.

Your evaluation team should look something like this, depending on your organization’s structure and travel needs:

  • Travel manager
  • Travel arrangers/schedulers
  • Frequent travelers
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CTO
  • CFO
  • HR

Conducting an internal evaluation of your company’s needs and expectations will prepare you to engage with TMCs. The process will help you determine whether a Request for Information (RFI) provides the insight and direction you need to “hire” a best-fit TMC for your company or whether your needs require a formal RFP.

Once you’ve agreed on position requirements, give them a hierarchy based on a percentage or points system. You’ll use these criteria to rank the RFPs during Step 6. Include the criteria and ranking in your RFP so TMCs better understand your program needs and can respond accordingly. An example ranking table is given below.

Step 2: Research TMCs and Develop a Prospect List

Now that you’ve developed your job description, you need to find likely candidates. As with Step 1, doing your homework here will produce the best outcome.

A Google search for “TMC” may overwhelm you with choices, so consider asking other businesses who their travel partners are and reach out to travel industry leaders, such as SAP Concur or the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), to ask for recommendations from their TMC networks. Develop a reasonable list of prospects to continue to vet. It’s easier to begin with more prospects during this step than it is to fall short at Step 5 or 7 and have to repeat the process.

Now you can Google those candidates and assess whether they might be a good fit for your organization. Start with the candidates’ websites and review their corporate backgrounds. Are they an award-winning firm? Do they maintain their accreditations and memberships in significant travel industry groups? Is their client list impressive? Have they been in the business long enough to weather changes in technology and the travel industry? Use this background information to trim your list as needed.

Because representing your firm in the best possible light is easy on your own website, also consider what others say about the TMC. Look for mentions in travel industry/business media and on their client’s websites, check their LinkedIn profile, and review their company ratings on Glassdoor or a similar site – because how the TMC’s employees rank the working relationship is significant to your potential partnership. If the TMC is difficult to work for, they are likely difficult to work with.

Start conversing with the TMCs on your list. Ask each one some standard questions formulated during your research and request a standard proposal from likely candidates. The TMC’s standard proposal, like a resume, presents all the benefits of working with them—services, technology solutions, experience, work history, etc. This provides more information to help you weed out TMC candidates so you don’t end up with a mountain of RFIs and/or RFPs to review. Why waste your time if you can determine early on that it’s not a good fit?

Step 3: Refine Prospect List

Now that you’ve found some solid candidates, narrow your list to a manageable amount. A good rule of thumb here is to peek at the back of the book (which we would never do with a novel) and work backwards. Take a look at Steps 4, 5, and 7, and estimate how many prospective TMCs you want to include at each stage of the process, ideally ending up with two or three candidates to “interview,” that is, to demonstrate their capabilities and answer your final questions.

If you’ve already ended up with a short list and your preferred candidates are sure to meet your criteria, skip Step 4 and move on to Step 5, the RFP.

Step 4: Send an RFI

Step 4 is like getting a massage: You want to make sure those knots receive the most attention. Structure the request around your organization’s most important issues and hot buttons, such as data collection and visibility, online adoption, duty-of-care, and unused ticket tracking.

From these responses, you can quickly evaluate the TMC’s value propositions and create a shortlist of companies with which to continue. Some companies can make a final decision from these RFI responses, but if that’s not you, move on to Step 5 – the RFP.

Step 5: Write/Revise and Distribute the RFP

The RFP process is not a one-size-fits-all document: If you’re 6’6″, you’re probably not buying a suit off the rack unless you have some tailoring done. Your RFP needs a custom fit, too, because your organization has its own culture, travel policy, and technical requirements.

There are dozens of RFP templates online (we provide one, below), and you may even have a serviceable RFP that just needs dusting off and some pandemic-related adjustments. However, it’s important to compare your template, if you decide to use one, with the weighted criteria you developed during Step 1 to ensure those criteria are covered .

Ask TMCs for additional information on these criteria. For example, if data-driven reporting is critical to keeping your program on track, in addition to asking about available reporting tools, ask for examples of the reports you need most frequently and the time frames for data population and report turn-around. If your travel bookings haven’t conformed to policy, ask what specific measures the TMC recommends implementing to improve policy compliance and how those measures function with an online booking tool and a full-service travel advisor. And if you’re having a hard time retaining your most frequent travelers, ask how you can increase traveler well-being to save rehiring and retraining costs.

Getting in-depth answers to your most vital concerns is essential in the RFP process, so request additional information to inform your decision, such as:

  • Technology overview
  • Example reporting
  • Service level agreement
  • Client success stories
  • Implementation plan
  • Account review example
  • Organizational chart

Make sure your published RFP timeline is reasonable and allows for a question and answer period. Your firm needs time for internal communications, executive approvals, and input from other departments, as appropriate, as well as their ongoing projects. Establish a realistic schedule, then pad it with a week or two to give your team some leeway. It’s easier to add time upfront than to communicate schedule changes to multiple TMCs, issue RFP addendums, communicate new deadlines to your team, and reschedule meetings.

Example RFP Schedule

Step 6: Rank RFP Respondents

Using the criteria established during Step 1, rank your proposals by percentages or points. You may have a clear winner at this point and can proceed to contract negotiations and award.

However, if a few firms are closely ranked, gather your evaluation team and develop a final set of questions for the presentation/demonstration phase. Again, weight your questions so you can tally scores during Step 7.

Step 7: Request Demonstrations and Rank Presenters

If you followed Step 3, you should have a two- or three-firm shortlist from which to select your TMC. Unless you’ve been given carte blanche, utilize the main decision makers from your evaluation team as your presentation panel. Use your weighted criteria from Step 6 and the total proposal score, as well as any internal conversations around the potential working relationship, to guide your award decision.

Step 8: Select TMC

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the RFP process and are ready to implement your new travel program.

We suggest you debrief the TMCs who presented to your team. Explaining why you didn’t select their services helps them strengthen their programs, which may benefit you in the future.

Need Additional Assistance?

If you have questions about the RFP process or Christopherson’s consultative approach and solution to travel management, please contact our business development team and download our sample RFP to help you get started.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”center” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][nectar_btn size=”large” open_new_tab=”true” button_style=”regular” button_color_2=”Extra-Color-3″ icon_family=”none” text=”Download RFP Template” url=”https://staging.cbtravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/SAMPLE-TMC-RFP-TEMPLATE_Provided-by-Christopherson-Business-Travel.pdf”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Business Travel Travel Industry

Business Travel—A Status Symbol For Millennials?

It shouldn’t be a shock to you that the millennial generation is the largest segment jumping into the workforce. As baby boomers ease into retirement, millennials are stepping in, often starting with the most stressful and burdensome tasks. In most cases, this includes business travel. But in a somewhat surprising turn, a new study from Hilton Hotel & Resorts, finds that millennials are ultimately enjoying business travel and the perks that come with it.

That’s right, while many in the past have seen business travel as a burden, millennials are jumping in head first and loving it. They often see traveling on behalf of their company as a work perk. In fact, 65% of young professionals in the U.S. consider business travel a status symbol. Additionally, 39% would not take a job that did not allow them to travel for business. And 81% of those surveyed say they repeatedly travel for business because they get more work done in person.

Additional perks millennials enjoy about business travel

  • Exploring new cities – 64%
  • Eating in a new city – 62%
  • Covered expenses – 57%
  • Hotel stay – 55%

 

Their common business travel anxieties

  • 69% wished that they could extend their trips, turning it into a bleisure opportunity.
  • 59% regret not extending previous trips in the past to explore further
  • 54% not sure how their boss would react to a bleisure trip request
  • 44% worry asking to extend their trip would make them look bad to their senior leadership
  • 58% would like to fly in a day before meetings/events to prepare, but are nervous to ask. >

 

Common frustrations facing millenials and business travel

  • 38% can’t enjoy their weekend before traveling on business.
  • 38% continue to feel stressed after traveling for three to seven days
  • 46% say their employers don’t consider personal time when asking them to travel for business.
  • 44% said they gained weight due to traveling
  • 58% sacrifice sleep/wellness when traveling

 

Companies need to more clearly define their business travel culture

Looking at the frustrations felt by these young professionals, it’s easy to see that there is a gap in communication between the company culture, travel program, and traveler. Imagine being a young professional again You’re new to the industry, trying to look your assertive best and represent yourself the best way you know how. You don’t want to step on any toes, and you want to be remembered as the reliable employee who can take whatever is thrown at him/her. Asking for clarification on subtle details of business travel typically goes against that mindframe. It might be time to evaluate your travel program, as perceived from a new employee or new professional perspective. What type of company culture are you trying to promote? One that understands the importance of your employees work/life balance?

There also appears to be a gap in understanding of what is included in the travel program. 43% often misunderstood what could be expensed, resulting in owing the company money. This shows that perhaps the travel program is not as easy to understand as some companies think. It may be worth looking at your company’s travel program with fresh eyes, and revise where it needs updating or additional clarification.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate business travel company, with more than 60 years of experience. Our consultative approach assists companies to streamline their travel management, save money, and keeps travelers safe. Contact us to learn more about award-winning company.

Read next:

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Business Travel Guides Travel News

How to Select the Right Corporate Travel Partners

I recently had the pleasure of attending the GBTA- North Carolina’s Education Day.  Themed ‘Bridging the Travel Gap’, it focused on helping both buyers and suppliers bridge the gaps that may exist during the purchasing process. The keynote speaker was Neil Hammond of Goldspring Consulting and he focused on Better Engaging the Buyer and Supplier Relationship. While he delivered a breadth of beneficial material, I really enjoyed his process on selecting the right corporate travel partners. By breaking it out into steps, it makes the process less daunting. It also allows for increased communication and guidelines, ensuring everyone’s needs are met for future travel management practices.

Selecting the right corporate travel partners for your business:

  1. Involve any key stakeholders to get internal support. Gaining this support is especially helpful when a introducing a new policy or changing vendors.
  2. Align your message internally in order to deliver the same message to your travelers.
  3. Educate key decision makers as necessary. Take the time to explain why vendor options are being evaluated.
  4. Define your strategy in advance of collecting a proposal. Will you be awarding a single contract or multiple?
  5. Survey your travelers. This will give you a clear picture of what travelers like and also in keeping their opinions in mind, will ensure buy-in as you proceed in the decision making process.
  6. Agree on your decision making process. What parameters are you looking for? Do these align with your company policy? Do you have a clear timeline for the implementation of this change?
  7. Clearly express your requirements to potential suppliers.
  8. Evaluate suppliers, engaging throughout the process to gain clarification and provide updates on your timeline, if necessary.
  9. Execute a decision according to the defined timeline.

While making a change to your travel program is never easy, following these steps will help you stay organized while selecting your corporate travel partners. And remember, Christopherson is always here to help. With more that 60 years experience in corporate travel, we understand the challenges that businesses face with travel management. If you would like to discuss the process of choosing corporate travel partners in more depth, feel free to contact us, or read our additional blogs below.

Categories
Travel Industry Travel Management

Enterprise/National as a Ground Transportation Supplier

To be effective, corporate travel programs require many moving parts. One critical area involves nurturing wonderful supplier relationships, including ground transportation. We’ve found that Enterprise/National offers customized benefits for many of our clients.

Customized benefits from Enterprise/National:

  • Dual Brand Agreement (National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car). Programs are customized and negotiated based on the company’s specific travel patterns and traveler needs.
  • One loyalty number “Emerald Club” that is provided and works for both brands globally.
  • Global Billing options are available.
  • Local Account Management and support provided for any customized agreement.
  • 100% location compliance with corporate pricing.
  • Supporting lines of business that can help with other areas of ground transportation: Enterprise RideShare, Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Fleet Management, Enterprise Truck Rental, Exotics by Enterprise, Enterprise Car Sales.

Christopherson Business Travel maintains excellent communication with the many Enterprise/National Representatives throughout the country.  If you need a referral to the right contact in your area, please allow us to be your resource for making an introduction.

We’ve spent the last 60 years dedicated to finding travel management solutions for busy companies. From customized travel programs to advanced technology, we provide peace of mind. Contact us to learn more about how Christopherson, along with our preferred partners, and assist you with your travel needs.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Why Universities Use TMCs

When I tell people what I do for a living, they always look surprised when I mention working with universities and higher education. Because Christopherson Business Travel has the word ‘business’ in its name, it’s easy to assume that that’s our only client base. The truth is that colleges and universities need as much travel management as corporations. Here is why many institutions of higher education choose to take travel off of their own shoulders and work with a TMC:

Reasons universities work with travel management companies (TMCs)

1) Universities often have many departments. All of those departments can be a lot for one person or one department to manage. The average university travel program includes; athletics, faculty and staff business travel, study abroad/ student trips and groups. This means at any one time, a university has dozens of people, with varying ages and levels of travel experience on the road. Christopherson employs a University Travel Team of agents who are highly experienced in booking all segments of university travel.

2) As an employer, a university has a duty to ensure the safety of their travelers. This is where we come in. With SecurityLogic, which is housed in our proprietary AirPortal 360 technology, travel arrangers are able to stay informed of the location and security of all travelers. SecurityLogic is a dynamic reporting and communication tool created to facilitate your duty of care responsibilities.

3) Keeping payment methods secure. It is very rare that all university travelers will have their own university specific credit card. So it is quite common for schools to elect to use a departmental card, or ghost card, to be utilized by several travelers. With Christopherson, regardless of your payment configuration, the appropriate card is stored in the Traveler Profile. Once it is stored, it is masked for your protection.

4) 24/7/365 agent access. Things happen when your travelers are on the road and we are here to help your travelers find options. Between our University Team of Agents and our after- hours support, we have you covered.

5) Consultative account management. Managing a university travel program can be a daunting task and you want someone in your corner with more than just a little experience. Our highly experienced account managers take a consultative approach in ensuring the success of your program.

Christopherson Business Travel has been successfully fulfilling the travel needs of higher education clients for more than 30 years and currently manages travel programs for more than 30 colleges and universities.

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Business Travel Travel Technology

How Christopherson Provides Organization for Travel Management

It could be the ‘type A’ personality in me, but I often think there’s room for improvement in most situations. I’ve also noticed this trait in many travel managers, procurement officers and executives. In positions as busy as these, isn’t the job more manageable with a structured and reliable system? Fortunately, I know Christopherson can provide that oh-so-necessary organization for travel management tasks. Our technology allows for peace of mind and instant access to information for company’s travel management needs. Why are we so confident that we can provide that satisfaction? Read some of our top benefits below:

How Christopherson provides organization for travel management

  •  With our AirPortal 360™ Dashboard and Mobile App, you have a 360° view of your travel program instantly and at all times.
  • No more digging through your inbox to find a traveler’s itinerary. Christopherson’s SecurityLogic® will tell you exactly where your travelers are in seconds. You can even look at their past or upcoming trips by customizing your search.
  • Eliminate that spreadsheet tracking your company’s unused tickets. AirBank® technology seamlessly tracks the unused funds from cancelled tickets. We even provide reminders, ensuring they are used before expiring.
  • All of your traveler’s pertinent travel information and preferences is stored in our Traveler Profiles, allowing you to take one less step when booking. There is no need to keep a series of post-it notes on your desk with traveler’s information written on them.
  • Lastly, eliminate the need to “shop” for fares prior to booking a trip. With PolicyLogic™, your company’s travel policy is built into our software. When travelers book their travel either with an agent or through one of our online booking tools, your travel policy will always comply.

By choosing Christopherson Business Travel as your travel management partner, you are signing on from streamlined and organized travel management. We are at the forefront of travel technology, and have been since we opened our doors in 1953. Contact us to learn more about our AirPortal® platform, and how we can declutter your travel management procedures.

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Business Travel Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel and your Risk Management Program

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Charles Brossman, a prominent risk management author and consultant speak at GBTA- North Carolina’s Education Breakfast. His informal but informative conversation educated our group on the legal terms associated with risk management. These terms, coupled with real- life examples, left us thinking about ways to improve the risk management programs for our own organizations.

How Christopherson provides risk management security

Guess what? By partnering with Christopherson as your Travel Management Company, you already have the shoe on the right foot. Housed in our AirPortal 360 platform, SecurityLogic allows travel managers can access real-time threats. This includes security updates, weather, traffic, airport delays, and disaster alerts. These alerts can be automatically pushed to travelers via text and email. With the intuitive Safety Check feature, you can request safety verification from your travelers, from anywhere in the world. Once activated, the traveler will immediately be messaged. Knowing that you are worried about their safety and they can also quickly respond. Additionally, SecurityLogic provides multiple global map overlays. All travel information is geocoded to street-level accuracy. So you can zoom into any country, city, or street to find risks near your travelers.
Learn more about how Christopherson can assist with your duty of care and risk management goals.

Charles Brossman is the author of the book “Building a Travel Risk Management Program: Traveler Safety and Duty of Care for Any Organization”. For more information on Charles Brossman and his services, see his website.

Christopherson Business Travel provides full-service travel management for companies. With advanced technology and customized service, we are one of the top TMCs in the nation. Contact us to learn how we can save your company time and money on future travel.

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Business Travel

Why Booking Travel Yourself Loses You Money

One of the major objections you hear from business executives is: “why would we use a Travel Management Company when employees can just book travel through existing consumer online booking tools?”  Well of course, much has been written about the many benefits that a Travel Management Company can offer, and the savings that they can deliver, so I decided to go in a different direction and conduct a small experiment.

The travel booking experiment

Basically, I wanted to see the time it took me to book the same round-trip (including air, hotel, and car) in a leading online consumer booking tool vs. a leading online corporate booking tool. I shopped for low to mid-range bookings but I decided to not follow any additional budget or travel policies.

The results

My findings?  It took me an extra 5 minutes to book travel online than through a corporate booking tool.

Then I wondered the time it would take over a year. Let’s say an employee travels for business two times a month. That’s an extra 120 minutes, or two hours, a year spent booking travel online.   In other words, if you’re a business owner with 100 employees, you stand to lose 200 hours annually just by booking travel through online sites. 

Now, count in your employee’s prospect lunches, client dinners, and other superfluous activities.  This seemingly simple task ultimately wastes your employee’s time and the company’s money. My experiment merely scratched the surface of unmanaged time due to travel booking. And as I mentioned, it didn’t account for additional budget constraints or travel policies. Travel management companies, like Christopherson Business Travel, allow employees to do they job they were hired to do. Let them get back to work while your travel management is in good hands.

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Business and Leadership Business Travel Travel Management

Concerns for Corporations using Public Online Booking Sites

Sure, it’s quick and easy for business travelers to search for flights on public travel websites.  Watching the ticket price continually drop in front of your eyes; it’s hard to believe there’s a better deal anywhere else! But in the end that’s not always the truth. Both the traveler and their employer are missing out on additional benefits when they use public booking sites for business travel. There are many variables that play a part in efficient travel service and price, many are often overlooked in the process of using those simple public online booking sites.

What you need to know about public online booking sites

  • Hidden transaction fees. Some sites include their transaction fees in a small hidden link called “additional taxes & fees”.  Users assume those are sales taxes, etc., but in some cases, an additional transaction fee is also slipped in.
  • Hotel cancellation fees and discounts. Yes, there are great hotel prices on public sites.  But those are usually non-refundable, non-changeable and you have to pre-pay the full stay.  Even if you end up cancelling once, those charges often outweigh any savings you attained throughout the whole year. If you end up cancelling only one hotel stay in a entire year, those charges can outweigh any savings you attained throughout the year.
  • No duty of care.  There is a moral and legal obligation for employers to know where their employees are when traveling for the company. Employees must email their employers their itinerary.  Who manages that? The traveler’s boss?  The travel manager?  The office manager?  In the event of an emergency,  who in the company will be digging through their emails to determine if their traveler is in harm’s way. Public online booking sites are not equipped for handling duty of care responsibilities.
  • Poor after-hours care.  Who wants to call an 800 number at 10pm when the snowstorm hits the Eastern seaboard and every other traveler is doing the exact same thing? Hold times are outrageous.  On top of your personality sanity, these public booking websites don’t know what your company’s policy is around re-booking flights.
  • No built-in travel policy.  What stops your traveler from booking the Four Seasons or Business Class on a public site?  What stops your traveler from booking the $400 flight on Delta when there is a similar flight on United for only $310?  We’d all like to think that our employee will “do the right thing”, but that’s not always the case.

Public online sites may seem like the easiest and cheapest route for corporations, but in the long run these corporations are falling short.  Travel management companies on the other hand give travelers the tools they need to make the correct choices for booking their business trips.  Pricing is transparent and policies are followed.  The company’s travel policy is built in to the online booking tool so the traveler can choose the best option within the company’s guidelines.  And if a flight is cancelled or delayed, the traveler will receive prompt and friendly assistance from an agent that knows the company and knows the traveler.  In the event of an emergency or disaster, the company can quickly locate and alert each and every traveler and assist those travelers when in need.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience in the field. We pride ourselves on our efficient travel technology and consultative customer service.

Read Next-

The Downside of Using Online Booking Sites

What Is Duty Of Care

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

5 Signs You Need A Corporate Travel Management Company

You are busy. Between today’s deadlines and propelling your company to the next level, you likely don’t have time to sort through details. And corporate travel may be one of those details you are ignoring. Unfortunately, this aspect of business plays a major role in the functionality of your company as well as the lives of your employees. Without a corporate travel management company (TMC) to assist you, you may be missing out on valuable resources and savings. But how do you know if you would benefit from a TMC?

5 Signs That You Could Use a Corporate Travel Management Company

  • You lack the human resources. The task of travel management often falls on someone with a completely different title, who likely hasn’t been trained in corporate travel. This wastes company time and money when that person should be doing their “real” job, but is stuck trying to buy tickets and wrangle itineraries.
  • You lack patience. Do you struggle to know which deals are the best deals? Do you have other things to do than spend the afternoon comparing sites, flight routes, and prices? With a travel management company, let someone else find the best deals.
  • You have little or no travel management industry knowledge. Do you know the most effective practices for corporate travel policies? How about negotiating airline or hotel contracts? You may be missing out on standard practices or budget saving tips.
  • Your analytics and reporting are non-existent. Just like other areas of your business, analyzing and managing the expenses and trends of your corporate travel program is important for running your business overall.
  • You don’t have an emergency plan for travelers. Should your employees face an emergency when traveling, do you have a plan? Do they know what to do next? Travel management companies can provide additional duty of care support when you need it the most.

If you answered “yes” to any of the signs above, you would certainly benefit from using a business travel management company. Let the corporate travel experts handle the details, while you focus on your company’s growth and success. Christopherson Business Travel has more than 60 years of experience, and continually ranks one of the top travel management companies in the country. Learn more about our advanced travel technology and what else makes us different.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management Travel Technology

Christopherson Business Travel Helps Companies Acheive Maximum Travel Policy Compliance

Communication and enforcement of travel policy is a common challenge for many companies. As a solution to that challenge, Christopherson Business Travel uses a blend of technology and established processes to verify that at the time of booking, policy guidelines will be enforced as designated by the company.

Should the policy need to be rewritten or enhanced, Christopherson can assist. Our Account Managers act as expert consultative advisors helping companies establish a fair, complete, and cost saving policy that benefits both the business travelers and the company.

Christopherson also developed PolicyLogic®, software that provides consistent application of preferred vendors, travel policy, coding, and reporting needs, as well as a new functionality that alerts travel managers and arrangers when travelers are not using preferred vendors. Travel policy configuration allows policy rules around the following categories: travel itinerary, flights, flight fares, flight classes, ticket change, car, hotel, and messaging.

These specifics are integrated with Christopherson’s experienced travel agents, online booking tools, and our mid-office and back-office systems to ensure accuracy and compliance across all booking sources. We will customize and update training and point-of-sale scripts when needed.

If business travelers book online, each action displays in the user interface reservation workflow so users clearly see policy compliance as well as policy violations at the point of sale. This empowers travelers to make better-informed decisions and help drive cost savings.

All reservations are reviewed by Compleat with your company policies and negotiated programs in mind. This resource drives costs down by auditing every reservation for compliance to your company’s travel policy and preferred-vendor lists. Compleat will not allow a ticket to be issued until the reservation is in compliance or has been approved by a manager. With these compliance reminders and checks in place, Christopherson then takes policy savings a step further by tracking trends in policy compliance to identify problem areas.

For information evaluating business travel policies, Christopherson has provided this white paper outlining a few basic steps companies can take to guide travelers and ensure compliance.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Why should I use a travel management company?

mergerjpg-ebd28bdd261f4f90As a business development executive for the 11th largest travel management company in the U.S., I am often asked, “Why should I use a travel management company?”

Smart companies looking for ways to save on travel understand that having a managed travel program is a business function that will help align their employees requirements and desires with corporate goals. A managed travel program helps to realize cost tracking and control for organizations and gives employees the opportunity to adhere to the company’s travel and entertainment policies, not to mention the ability to generate savings through negotiated discounts, specifically with hotel and car rental vendors.

Through Christopherson’s proprietary technology tools, like SecurityLogic® for example, corporations have instant access to data and information to assist in maintaining Duty of Care requirements. With Christopherson’s tool AirBank®, travel managers and executives have access of all their travelers’ unused tickets. Another example is AirPortal 360 Mobile, Christopherson’s mobile app, which allows travel managers and planners the ability to manage the company’s travel program from anywhere, at any time.

For more information on how Christopherson provides a clearer path to your company’s goals, please contact a member of our business development team.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Management

Why Clients Choose Christopherson as their travel management partner

Entering into a multi-year partnership with the right travel management company (TMC) enables travel management professionals to focus on spend analysis, budgeting, policy development and enforcement, and duty of care.  However, selecting the right TMC can be a daunting task.

Christopherson Business Travel as travel management leaders

Christopherson Business Travel continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. New clients are asked “Why did you choose Christopherson?” Here is what they say makes Christopherson stand out amongst other TMCs.

  • Christopherson offers AirPortal®, an integrated travel technology and management platform.  AirPortal not only provides travelers the ability to book within policy, but gives travel arrangers and managers the tools needed to manage the corporation’s entire travel program.
  • Christopherson’s pricing is simple.  Our clients like that all of the “extras” are included in our service fees.  Our clients learned that many of our competitors charge extra for reporting, account management, and duty of care tools.  At Christopherson, we only charge transaction fees.
  • Christopherson’s duty of care technology, SecurityLogic®, is superior to all other duty of care tools in the marketplace.  Our clients are not only able to quickly locate all of their travelers by name, date, and/or location, but they have the ability to push alerts directly to the traveler.
  • Our expertise with Concur Travel.  As a Concur Travel Preferred Partner (one of only ten agencies nationwide), Christopherson offers three experienced teams to support our customers using Concur Travel.

Please contact our sales team for additional information on why Christopherson is the best TMC for your company.

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Business Travel Travel Management

How to get the lowest airfare–Understanding the fluctuation of flight prices

how to get the lowest airfare

As an Account Manager for Christopherson Business Travel, I’m often asked by our clients’ travel managers: “Why is it, when looking for a flight, that the price can change within minutes of purchasing the fare?”

Cost of airfare has the potential to impact both the traveler and the company. At the point of purchase, the traveler is trying to juggle getting both a reasonable fare and their schedule to align before the ticket price changes. And quite often, it’s the cost of airfare that pushes travel expenses over budget, thus impacting a company’s bottom line.

I like to compare purchasing airfare to buying stocks. The price of stocks and the price of airfare is not fixed and can change in less than a minute. Airlines rely on computer modelling to track sales and adjust fares accordingly as often as they want, just like the price of stock is adjusted depending on demand and the current economic and political climate. These variables, in addition to the following factors, can all influence the price of airfare:

  • Passenger load
  • Competitor pricing
  • Peak travel dates, holidays, and seasons
  • Fluctuating fuel costs
  • How much a traveler is willing to pay for a seat

Airlines will also often raise the prices on flights that have a higher percentage of business travelers vs. vacation travelers. They base this on the comparison of:

  • Flights with a high rate of last minute bookings, which tends to be an indicator of business travel clients vs. flights booked well in advance, which tends to be an indicator of vacationers who have been planning for months
  • Short-haul flights that business travelers can make in one day vs. vacation travelers who would more likely drive, instead of fly, that same distance
  • Travel dates during the work week vs. travel dates over a weekend

How can a Travel Management Company help businesses and their travelers when airfare is so unpredictable?

Travel Management Companies have the ability to leverage all of those price-driving factors to keep costs down and help the traveler make well-informed trip-driven choices. Here are some of the ways we, at Christopherson Business Travel, accomplish this:

  • Supplier negotiations
  • Analyze program leakage
  • Create and manage travel policy
  • Facilitate the duty of care for a company’s travelers
  • Assist in educating the traveler
  • Ability to track that the lowest fare was indeed offered to the traveler and the reasons why/if it was refused

To learn more about how Christopherson Business Travel can help your company find the most cost-effective airfares for your business travel needs, please contact one of our executives.

 

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel News

Airline Exchange Fees On the Rise: How will this affect business travel?

airline exchange feesIt has started again.

Last week, United Airlines announced an increase in their fees for exchanges and then this week, U.S. Air made the same announcement. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Delta and other airlines join this game of Follow the Leader.

Most major airlines, until last week, charged $150.00 for exchanges associated with domestic reservations and $250.00 for international reservations. The new fees introduced by United Airlines are now $200.00 to change domestic reservations and $300.00 for international reservations.

While I understand this is a revenue-generating tactic by the airlines, it is also, unfortunately, a huge disservice to their travelers. My simple advice to Delta (and it’s probably the same advise you would give them!) is: “Don’t raise your change fees!”

As a frequent business traveler I would be willing to shift all my business solely to Delta if they were to leave their fees where they are. I believe that concern for, and loyalty to, travelers will generate traveler loyalty to the airline.

As a travel management company, Christopherson Business Travel sees how change fees affect our customers’ bottom lines, and this increase will significantly impact travel budgets across the board.

While increasing change fees has an obvious negative impact on companies with business travelers, I see this increase benefiting airlines in two ways. First, they will increase revenue with change fees. And second, travelers may now choose to buy refundable tickets, which can be significantly more expensive than non-refundable fares.

This is where the benefit of working with a Travel Management Company like Christopherson Business Travel comes in handy. When working with a full-service travel agent, you will receive expert advice on whether it is financially advantageous to purchase a refundable ticket based on the likelihood that your travel plans may change.

For up-to-date information on changes in airline fees you can refer to individual airline websites or call Christopherson Business Travel, and let our agents worry about it for you.

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Business Travel Travel Management

One Company Finds that Travel 2.0 Doesn’t Save Money

I have blogged before regarding the topic of Travel 2.0:

travel 2.0It is certainly a hot topic with varied issues, differing opinions, and supposed ramifications.

But another stark example on the side of “why Travel 2.0 doesn’t work” was reported last week in a Business Travel News article about the company Autodesk, and their recent challenges with travelers who continually respond to their travel manager with those famous last words, “I can find it cheaper myself online than through our travel program.”

After 30 days of Travel 2.0, Topaz International performed an audit on Autodesk’s travel expenses. Results showed, that when it was all said and done, Autodesk was in fact, not saving money with Travel 2.0 and the value of a managed travel program was confirmed.

I couldn’t help but think as I read the report: “Well, that’s another point on the side of managed travel over open booking with Travel 2.0.”

What are your thoughts? Do you think a managed travel program is worth the investment in the long run? Or do you think Travel 2.0 is the best option for companies?

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Business Travel Travel Management

How to Get a Good Seat in Coach

“I’ll take Airfare for $600, Alex.”

“What does it take to get an airline seat toward the front of the plane in coach?”

“What is … be a frequent traveler with elite status or a traveler who is willing to pay the extra fee to get a better seat?”

If you haven’t realized it yet, getting an airline seat in coach has become a game. So make sure you read all the rules before becoming a contestant.

Travelers can no longer assume that they can choose any seat in coach. Frequent flyer members also shouldn’t assume that their seat will be upgraded to an aisle seat with extra leg room in the front of the plane simply because of “elite status.” Airline seats are a commodity that comes with a price.

Travelers also need to change the way they think about the cost of airfare. Cheapest airfare is considered “base price airfare” which can be better understood if you compare it to how we buy new cars. For example, base price vehicles don’t come with leather or heated seats. Similarly, base price airfare might be a middle seat, or one that doesn’t recline, or is right next to the lavatory. What the airlines are really saying is: “You get what you pay for.”

Costs associated with seats are tied to their “features” like: Is it a window or an aisle seat? Is it a wider seat? Does it have extra leg room? Is it close to the front of the plane? Some airlines call these seats Economy Plus or Economy Comfort seats and you can often get these seats for “free” if you have reached a certain status on frequent flyer programs. Just remember–there are millions of travelers with elite status, so getting that seat upgrade could be difficult if you book trips at the last minute.

There could also be an additional fee for selecting seats when booking for more than one person or for a group. So make sure to find out what the cost is really going to be prior to purchasing that airline ticket. This can certainly be an all-consuming task when booking travel through a website. If booking travel with an agent, ask where the seat is prior to selecting the price of the ticket and if there will be an additional charge for the seat. You can also use websites and apps like SeatGuru to get an in-depth look at the seat configuration on the aircraft.

Tips for the Business Traveler:

  1. Try to book travel as far in advance as possible.
  2. Find out from your company if the additional cost for premium coach seats can be expensed.
  3. Make educated decisions when it comes to booking the cheap tickets.
  4. Use your elite status when you can.

Tips for the  Corporate Travel Manager:

  1. Evaluate your company’s travel policy in regards to coach seats. Most travel policies have guidelines for travelers booking business or first class seats but not for premium coach seats that cost more.
  2. Consider adding additional funds to your travel budget to cover these types of retail charges that airlines will continue to offer the business traveler.
  3. Present the additional cost of premium coach seats as “perk” to your business travelers and include this benefit when recruiting new employees.
  4. Consult with your Travel Management Company. At Christopherson Business Travel, our Account Managers will work with your company’s travel manager to put together a managed travel program that considers all the different facets of business travel, including cost savings and cost containment.

 

 

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Business Travel Travel Management

When Storms Brew, Business Travel Agents Rock

business travel agency

On a recent business trip to Denver I was once again reminded of the value of using a corporate travel agency and their secret weapon–the travel agent.

As we boarded the plane in Denver, I was concerned that we wouldn’t be going anywhere fast due to rough weather in the area. However, the only thing that happened fast was being de-boarded–oddly enough, for mechanical problems and not the weather.

The line formed quickly at the service counter only for travelers to learn that the next (and last) two flights to Salt Lake City were sold out. But all I had to do was call my favorite business travel agent who was able to confirm me a seat on a different airline within minutes.

Christopherson Business Travel has not only the best “secret (travel agent) weapons,” but they also have a tool kit full of travel technology that will service you and your business travelers through all your travel needs–whether it’s Mother Nature throwing a punch, mechanical problems, or simply a need for better managed travel.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Internet Travel Sites vs Corporate Travel Agency: 10 Reasons Why the Agency is the Best Choice

As a sales person for one of the country’s largest travel management companies (TMC), I frequently encounter companies who book all their travel online using public internet travel sites (like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.). Inevitably, these companies want to know why they should use a corporate travel agency rather than these public sites.

10 Reasons to Use a Travel Management Company Instead of Internet Travel Sites

  1. Many public travel websites charge fees too – they’re just hidden in the fine print.
  2. A TMC will guarantee the lowest rate. Why waste time and energy searching a half dozen sites when we guarantee the best deal?
  3.  A TMC provides 24-hour emergency after-hours service. When a storm hits and your flight is cancelled, you can call your TMC agent, who knows your company and can provide you immediate, efficient, and courteous support round the clock.
  4.  A TMC will manage your unused airline tickets. Did you know that 10% of corporation’s tickets go unused? That can really add up to a big loss. But a TMC will manage, audit, report, and ensure the reuse of all your travelers’ unused tickets.
  5.  A TMC will build your corporation’s travel policy into your company’s booking options (online or with an agent) so that travelers who book outside the policy are required to get approval.
  6. A TMC will negotiate hotel and car rental contracts on your behalf and ensure those rates at the time of booking.
  7. A TMC will provide consultative services to your company to provide cost savings, cost avoidance, and return on investment
  8. A TMC will provide the necessary tools to facility your duty of care so you can quickly locate your travelers in the event of an emergency.
  9. A TMC will keep track of all past, current and future itineraries.
  10. A TMC will  house all travelers’ personal information, TSA required information, and frequent flyer information in one profile.  Each time they book a ticket, their information automatically populates into their reservation.

As a leader in business travel management, Christopherson Business Travel focuses on the unique needs of our clients. We configure, deliver, and maintain a travel program with maximized traveler satisfaction and cost savings. It is our job to help our clients manage a travel program that provides savings to counter the cost of maintaining such a program.

Let us show you how we do it. Contact us for more details on how Christopherson can help your corporation enjoy increased service and cost savings with our business travel programs.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Christopherson Business Travel Offers the 2013 BCD Travel Hotel Program

As an affiliate of BCD Travel, Christopherson Business Travel offers the BCD Travel Hotel Program to our clients. BCD is a provider of global corporate travel management and operates in more than 95 countries, with US$20.8 billion in total sales.

The BCD Travel Hotel Program offers a comprehensive selection of more than 40,000 properties across 170 countries and 6 continents, with 99 percent of the properties now offering Best Available Rate (BAR) pricing. Hotels participating in the BCD Hotel Program are obligated to offer the BCD rate code at parity (equal to or less than any other travel management group or channel). In some cases, hotels offer a discount from BAR and/or offer a BCD Travel negotiated rate. All negotiated rates are guaranteed for last-room availability.

The BCD Travel Hotel Program is designed to provide the best value at quality properties, not only in key business markets, but in secondary and tertiary markets as well, where specific client negotiated hotel rates traditionally do not exist. Christopherson’s program complements client negotiated programs by providing an alternative to rack rates without steep or impractical penalties should plans change, in locations not covered under a client-negotiated program.

In addition to discounted rates, many participating hotels include value-added features or amenities, allowing travelers to realize savings off their total travel expense. Features may include complimentary breakfasts, high-speed internet access, telephone usage and airport transfers to name a few.

The percentages of hotels offering a few of the most popular complimentary amenities are as follows:

  • High speed Internet access included – 61%
  • Wi-Fi included – 58%
  • Breakfast included – 50%
  • Parking included – 52%
  • Fitness Center included – 65%

For more information about how your company can benefit from this hotel program contact your Christopherson Business Travel Account Manager or a member of our Business Development Team.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Business Travel Cost Savings: Part 2 – Vendor Negotiations

To review Part 1 where we discuss the value of having a business travel account management team and the potential savings that come as a result, click here.

Part two of my series on business travel cost savings touches on vendor negotiations.

There are several options when negotiating for your hotel, car, and air contracts. Depending on the depth of the negotiation, one or more of the following processes may be employed: RFP (Request for Proposal), RFQ (Request for Quotation), RFI (Request for Information), ITB (Invitation to Bid), and/or ITN (Invitation to Negotiate). For example, if you are simply seeking information, then use the RFI process. If you are wanting pricing only, then an RFQ would be appropriate, and so on.

Clients who partner with Christopherson Business Travel enjoy the benefit of having an account management team who will consult with their travel managers to determine the best avenues when negotiating on their behalf. During our consultation we use the following formula for negotiation success:

  1. Visualize
  2. Prepare
  3. Strategize
  4. Empathize
  5. Commit
  6. Follow-Up

Have you ever wondered how hotels look at the negotiating process? Here is a little insight.

Hotels are ultimately judged by shareholders on their return on capital, which translates into targets for Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), the overall revenue divided by the total potential number of room-nights over the financial year. Hotels use a range of techniques and technologies to assist them in “yield management,” the process by which they try to optimize revenue and occupancy over different market segments, through seasonal fluctuations, while taking into account national, regional and local economic circumstances. Some hotels have very sophisticated systems and experience analysts; others do not. Some hotels always follow the advice of the yield managers; others have more discretion.
Christopherson Business Travel knows that travel vendor negotiations can, and should, differ considerably company to company depending on the type of organization, size, geographic scope, and the degree of influence on the vendor. Christopherson’s account managers consult with industry experts and employ sourcing methods to help our clients create and manage their entire travel supplier network. In addition to the traditional vendor categories like airlines, hotels and ground transportation, we also support sourcing efforts related to meeting services, online booking tools, and credit card programs.

To produce cost-consistency and reductions, Christopherson Business Travel consults with you and creates strategies to:

  • Achieve optimal savings, coverage, and service goals
  • Align supplier programs with overall organizational goals
  • Track economic and industry trends to help identify opportunities for improvement
  • Take advantage of best-practice tools and benchmark information

Typical components of a sourcing management engagement include:

  • Vendor Program Assessment & Savings Opportunity Analysis
  • RFP Process Management
  • Negotiation Support
  • Vendor Program Implementation

President John F. Kennedy said, in his 1961 inaugural address, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

Because of increasing costs and greater demands, Christopherson Business Travel’s Account Managers will meet with you to create the ultimate scenario to ensure that your company gains a profitable return on investment with regards to your travel program. For facts on actual ROI savings and additional information, contact us.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Annual Business Travel Review: Talk to Your Account Manager Today

annual travel business management reviewAt Christopherson Business Travel we value our partnership with our clients. So naturally, we want to review with them how the past year has gone, what has been successful (or not), and create objectives and goals for the upcoming year.

As an account manager for one of the largest travel management companies in the nation, I strive to be consultative in every way to help our clients travel programs succeed and reduce their overall travel spend. One of the best ways to strengthen your travel program is to conduct an annual review. During an annual review you can discuss with your Account Manager your spend, trends, ROI, places for improvement, as well as the objectives and goals you would like to achieve.

This is just one more benefit provided to clients of Christopherson Business Travel. If you are interested in learning more, please contact one of our business executives.

You can also schedule your own annual review by contacting your Christopherson Account Manager.

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Business Travel Travel Management

Christopherson Business Travel’s Negotiated Rates Go A Long Way

Recently, my family planned a trip to Canada to attend a reunion and thought we had all the details worked out. As there were eight of us traveling together, we opted to drive rather than fly. Unfortunately, three hours in, our Suburban broke down. We barely made it off the freeway when the car stopped near a building that literally said,”This is the middle of Nowhere.”

After being towed 40 miles to a mechanic, it was determined that repairs would take about a week. We were going to need rental cards. I began calling around and booked two cars with National using our Christopherson Business Travel corporate number. This is just one of the many discount rates Christopherson offers customers if their company doesn’t have their own negotiated rate.

When we checked in at the National desk, I asked the agent if there were perhaps any better rates available since we really hadn’t been planning on this expense. She told us that not only did she find a better rate, but that it was one of the best rates she had ever seen. We also were able to add extra drivers for free since my husband was an Emerald Club member, which again saved us money on what would have been another expense.

In another instance, I was showing our negotiated rate programs to a prospective client. She had recently spent a lot of time searching for hotels in New York and Chicago. Their company had several travelers attending conferences in those cities but were making reservations too late to receive the special conference deals at the hotels. Because Christopherson Business Travel has connections and discounted rates with so many properties worldwide, we were able to find her cheaper rates than those she’d been quoted online and directly from the hotel.

Christopherson’s negotiated rates are just one more way companies benefit from our managed travel programs. To learn more about how you can benefit from these connections, please contact one of our representatives.

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Business Travel Travel Management

2012 Travel Forecast and Recommendations

Since the fourth quarter of last year, the Christopherson Business Travel Account Management team has been actively negotiating 2012 air, car, and hotel contracts for those companies that qualify.  Because the negotiation process is more viable this year, it has been necessary for us double-check every angle in order to secure the best contracts for a great return on investment for our clients.  Below are the forecasts and recommendation guidelines for 2012 that we use when obtaining the ultimate contract for you

Airfare

Forecasts:

  • Fare increases of 3-5%.  Significant fuel surcharges, prompted by rising oil prices, will ultimately determine this.
  • Capacity cuts that occurred in Q4 2011 are likely to be sustained into 2012, but over-supply may remain in some regions.
  • Additional factors threatening to push up total ticket prices include consolidated airline entities, distribution/card payment fees, and EU Emissions Trading System.

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate hard on pockets of over-capacity in the market.
  2. Joint ventures and other airline consolidations will pose an increasing threat to managed air programs.
  3. A reliable way to reduce average ticket price is to find ways to avoid last-minute purchases.
  4. Be wary of significant over-commitment to volume or market-share targets during negotiation.

Car Rental

Forecasts:

  • Demand will continue to rise steadily and providers will keep inventory tightly aligned.
  • Rate increases will be minor (4-6%) thanks to strong competition, but total cost of rental will continue to climb (ancillary charges, taxes, insurance, fuel).

Recommendations:

  1. Negotiate harder on ancillaries and other charges, such as refueling premiums.
  2. Revisit car rental program before suppliers start to push up their rates.
  3. Book further in advance.
  4. Evaluate relative financial costs of private vehicle use vs. car rental.
  5. Set policy on ancillary items (i.e. satellite navigation systems, etc.).

Hotel 

Forecasts:

  • More chains will demand heavy rate increases in opening 2012 negotiations.
  • New capacity will be limited in N. America and Europe but significant in Asia-Pacific.
  • Rates will rise 2- 6% in general, but with another double-digit jump in markets like New York.
  • Demand will continue to rise, though at a lower rate than 2011.

Recommendations:

  • Be wary of dynamic pricing and be sure to negotiate more than 10% off the BAR.
  • Expand # of hotels in RFP process but concentrate on fewer properties in final decision.
  • Negotiate hotel contracts for transient travelers to cover small meetings (up to 50 room nights).
  • Insist on negotiated rate being an LRA rate.