Managed Travel RFPs: What to Include to Check All the Boxes

By Jessica Larkin

Choosing the right business travel management company (TMC) for your organization is not a task that should be taken lightly. Think about it, travel is far more personal than say selecting an internet provider or cleaning service for your office. You need to find a managed travel partner that supports your employees, automates processes for the finance department, and meets policy compliance goals for human resources. However, what we believe to be the most important factor isn’t the bottomline, but that the TMC you select is a good fit for the culture of your organization.

As you begin your search for a travel management company, a request for proposal, or RFP, is a great way to gather information from potential vendors about the solution they offer, how they will meet the needs of your organization, technology considerations, and more.

If you’re charged with finding a new managed travel company for your organization, then this post is for you. We will focus on the request for proposal process, factors to consider as you begin your search, as well as some key areas to include in the RFP itself.

What is a Managed Travel RFP?

The purpose of a managed travel RFP is to streamline and provide structure to the decision making process. The RFP will give respondents guidelines to ensure you can conduct an apples to apples comparison of vendors and their offerings.

As you begin to shell out your RFP, think about the goals of your managed travel program. Obviously cost savings, inventory requirements, compliance, and employee safety are key factors. However, also think about how this new tool can partner with both finance and HR departments to improve efficiency and lessen the burden of an increasingly distributed workforce.

Keep in mind that RFPs don’t need to be incredibly lengthy to be valuable. In fact, you can limit your questions to align with the key areas of your travel program you are hoping to improve.

Assemble Your Buying Committee

Now that you have determined that you will be releasing a request for proposal for managed travel, it is time to rally the troops and assemble a buying committee. Include members from across your organization that offer a representative sample of those touched by your corporate travel program. Typical team members will include executives, accounting, procurement, a member of IT, business travelers, and human resources.

Each member of the buying committee should have an area of ownership in the RFP process. For example, your accounting representative will want to think about how a managed travel company can improve efficiencies and cut costs, human resources may want to talk to vendors about travel policy compliance and how it can be technology-enabled, and business travelers will likely want to know about a stellar booking experience and inventory options. All of this should be documented and considered as you prepare to draft your RFP.

Review the Competitive Landscape

In addition to outlining areas of importance, you should look into potential vendors you would be interested in speaking to about their services. Taking to the internet and conducting a search for travel management companies is often the first stop. You could also think about asking for referrals from your network, or requesting recommendations on LinkedIn. Once you’ve narrowed your potential vendor list down, take time to check-out their reviews online at sites like G2 or Capterra. It’s always insightful to see what their customers have to say.

Select a handful of vendors that appear to align to your company profile and travel program goals. Once your RFP is complete, contact them about responding with a proposal and letting them know that you are open to a brief call to answer questions prior to getting started.

Arm Respondents with Essential Information

In your RFP you’ll need to provide some basic information to the vendors that are responding so that they have insights into your current travel program and the goals of your future state. Some areas that are essential to your RFP include:

Goals and Overview: This is an introduction of your company and its managed travel goals. Essentially, it is why you are submitting an RFP.

Description of Your Organization: Think about including details on annual revenue, approximate number of traveling/remote employees, office locations, if your travel program is domestic or international, a travel policy if you have it, and any other background you may be able to provide for the sake of clarification.

Describe Your Current Travel Program: Discuss if this is your first foray into managed travel or if you are looking to replace a current travel management solution. Talk about elements of your current program that are going well and areas for improvement.

Scope: Include a list of all of the regions in which your employees travel and support must be available. This is also where you should highlight growth goals and if you have plans to expand your travel program.

Cost Considerations: Include a baseline on your current annual booking volume, or spend for lodging, air, and ground transportation. Also, if possible, include your corporate travel budget.

RFP Milestones and Formatting: Include a timeline in your RFP that highlights important due dates, windows for Q&A, formatting requirements, and a designated point of contact.

Checking All the Boxes: Key Areas of Your RFP

Just like vendors need specific information to build out a detailed proposal, you should also expect some key information to be included in their response. Consider asking for the following to be included in submitted proposals:

Many TMCs have this information available at the drop of the dime and it is standard in their responses. You may also want to include the questions that dig into savings, compliance, and employee support. These more detailed questions will help you get a better understanding if the TMC would be a good fit for the culture of your organization.

Sample Questions

Highlight the primary services provided by your organization.
How will our company benefit from utilizing your managed travel program?
Describe your current customer base and highlight a customer that has travel program requirements like ours.
What technology innovation goals does your company have for the next year?
Is your platform an all-in-one solution for time and expense management? What integrations do you support?
What is your approach to cost savings and encouraging compliance?
Do you function as the agent of record for all bookings?
How do you ensure supreme inventory options?
Explain your customer service model and how you will ensure our traveling employees are supported.
What insights and tools do you offer for finance teams?
Describe your implementation and onboarding process.

Wrapping Up the RFP Process

Once you have requested proposals from travel management companies, received responses, and shortlisted vendors, your buying committee will be tasked with carrying out due diligence to interview the potential vendors, seek references, obtain documents for procurement and legal review, and finally, make a decision. The RFP process is significant not only for your organization, but also for the TMCs providing proposals.

By providing structure to the process you are more likely to get the best possible proposal from prospective travel management vendors, but also get the information you need to make an informed decision.

We hope that you have found this post helpful. TravelBank is here to answer any of your TMC RFP questions—regardless of where you are in the process.

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