Adding value to travel programs

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Partnering with the right travel management company (TMC) will be a critical strategy for businesses looking to find the right balance between productivity and cost savings in 2014.

FCm believes organisations need to be working with a TMC that has true global capabilities, can provide innovative saving strategies and has the group buying power to offer value-adding services.

While there are many ways to drive value from your travel program, FCm suggests corporates renew focus on the key areas of – consolidation, booking strategies, air credit management and technology.

By focusing on all or just one of these core areas, corporates have the best chance of improving savings, driving program value and creating efficiencies.

Kickstart your New Year travel savings

Consolidate

Companies that don’t have a centrally managed or national travel program in place should consider a consolidated approach to travel management. Consolidation brings all the pieces of your business travel together, to achieve work efficiencies at every stage of the travel process. Consolidating your travel with a single travel management company gives you better insight, data and control to leverage savings and improves your travel risk management by having centrally located information to track travellers.

There are four key areas, including your company’s location, scale, booking patterns and travel leakage, which your TMC can analyse and work with you to consolidate your program.  Effective consolidation hinges on your commitment to a change management plan that aligns your corporate travel culture with your goals. 

Depending on the size of your company and the complexity of your travel, full consolidation could take a few months or even a few years as part of a strategic plan of discovery, change and maintenance. 

For greater consolidation FCm recommends: 

  • Companies appoint a key internal stakeholder or for larger companies a committee of people to drive travel program changes internally.
  • These stakeholders, together with your TMC, develop a plan for change as well a timeframe for the implementation of change. 
  • Mandate your change management plan so people are accountable for enforcing change and seeing the change process through.
  • Include key metrics in your change plan so your travel performance can be measured for improvement. Savings can be measured in terms of the discounts provided by your preferred airlines, hotels or car hire company; or number of bookings made via FCm’s quickbeds.com site or the FCm SmartSTAY program, which add value. 

Bundled bookings

A more concerted effort to use a 'bundled booking' system among your travellers has the potential to boost your bottom line for every booking. Consider this: If you were to book a flight from Brisbane to Sydney with one carrier and another carrier for the return flight, using an internet-based travel website or direct with a supplier, generally you would be charged two different booking fees for the mixed carriage transaction. FCm is one of the only TMCs to charge a single fee for a mixed carriage transaction.

Companies can also save money by bundling flights and land components such as accommodation and/or car hire within the one request. If you bundle a booking for flights, hotel and car hire with FCm, you'll pay a single booking fee whether you book on your online booking tool (OBT) or with your travel manager. If you were to book your flights through FCm, your accommodation on an alternate online travel website and your car hire direct with a supplier, you're more than likely paying three different booking or service fees. With online travel websites charging anywhere from $4 up to more than $30 per booking and some suppliers also charging service fees, corporates using multiple booking channels often face a higher fee structure than those customers using bundled bookings as part of a consolidated TMC-managed travel program.

A recent FCm study indicated that bookings made online via third party websites take significantly longer than if you were to book through your travel manager. The study showed that a booking including a standard domestic flight with two nights accommodation and two days car hire – along with a number of changes after the booking had been made, took a customer upwards of 1 hour and 15 minutes to finalise. The same booking process, which was managed by FCm took just under 8 minutes for the customer to complete. 

Air credit management

It is very easy for corporates to rack up thousands of dollars in unused tickets every month. Without a dedicated focus on air credit management, a mid-to-large market organisation can easily write off $10,000 each month in unused air credit. FCm's stringent client implementation process has unearthed situations where companies have come on board with substantial air credits on hold – some of these companies have been unaware of the actual value of their credit. Failure to manage these credits effectively, timely and proactively can result in serious financial loss.

At FCm we believe it is the TMC's responsibility to provide holistic management of air credits through reporting and proactive account management. Therefore, it is essential that TMCs have the technology, skills and process efficiencies to ensure complete visibility of airline credits at all times to reduce wastage. FCm's success with client air travel programs has proven that organisations have a far greater chance of maximising the value of their air spend when there is a dedicated focus on air credit management from implementation. As part of FCm's client implementation process, we'll investigate how much air credit your organisation has and we'll immediately deploy strategies to ensure effective management of those credits.

Technology

At FCm we understand that personal travel management is paramount. But we also know organisations like the immediacy and convenience of online technologies. As online innovation continues to change the face of corporate travel, companies now want a broader selection of online tools and expert advice on which tool is best suited to their needs.

There is an increasing requirement for TMCs to be able to offer numerous online booking tools, and have the product knowledge to demonstrate to customers why a certain tool is more appropriate for their requirements. This trend is gaining momentum as online booking requirements for customers, such as point-to-point international bookings, pre-approval and automated air credit management, continue to expand and diversify.

Key themes of recent technology discussions with customers have focused on choice, suitability, integration, data accuracy and flow, efficiency, booking capabilities and customisation. At FCm we consider the integration of online services as one of the more important capabilities of TMC provided online technology. Our online travel services are provided through the FCm Portal platform, which integrates with all of our online products and incorporates a single sign on as well as access to traveller profiles, travel alerts, your online booking tool (OBT), travel reporting and online expense management services.

Additionally, FCm utilises a sophisticated reporting tool ClientBank, which provides deeper insight into your travel behaviours using key performance indicator (KPI) scorecard functionality. When combined with an experienced Account Manager this functionality allows us to more clearly identify travel savings and benchmark your performance against similar sized companies.

Program globalisation

One of the trending topics for Australian businesses is globalisation. Companies that have operations in Australia as well other countries are keen to know what TMCs can offer globally for their company in terms of travel program consolidation, supplier savings, online efficiencies, reporting and account management. While Australian companies are focused on what their TMC can do for them at a local level there is an increasing focus on what added value a TMC can bring to a travel program through multinational consolidation. It’s critical that TMCs have an extensive global network to be able to deliver local market knowledge and on the ground services anywhere in the world. Additionally a TMC with global relationships with suppliers will be able to negotiate the best deals and contracts for your travel. 

Value-adding services

As part of the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), FCm is the only TMC that can offer clients such a broad range of services across the corporate and leisure travel market.

This range includes:

Travel Club Getaways

As part of FCTG, FCm is one of the few travel management companies that offers a dedicated leisure offering to corporate customers via Travel Club Getaways. Travel Club Getaways draws on the negotiating strength and global supplier relationships of FCTG to offer customers a superior leisure travel booking service, experience and competitive prices. Travel Club Getaways can help organisations to reduce employee annual leave balances and adds value to the FCm partnership for individual employees. 

SmartSTAY and Smart DRIVE

Partner with FCm and we can provide more value to you through our exclusive SmartSTAY and SmartDRIVE programs. All FCm clients have access to SmartSTAY and SmartDRIVE, both of which offer a wide range of discounted services, bonus offers and value-adds services for hotels and car hire. 

Healthwise, Moneywise and 99 Bikes

Through FCTG, FCm customers also have access to Healthwise, our global health and wellness division; 99 Bikes, which is a major bicycle and bicycle accessory retailer; and Moneywise, which is a uniquely structured financial planning practice. These three businesses, which are all part of FCTG, run specially designed corporate programs for FCm customers.

Stay ahead of costs in 2014

With domestic air travel pricing on the way up due to a softening mining sector and stablilising airline competition corporates need to stay on top of the latest travel management practices to mitigate the cost impact. Hotel prices are also set to remain strong in light of high demand and limited new property development. 

By working closely with FCm to assess your booking strategies, effectively managing your air credit, and also leveraging the benefits of FCm's technology and value-adding services, your organisation is in the best position to identify further savings and increase bottom line value this year and next.