Much has been written about the qualities to look for in a travel management company (TMC), but it’s also important to assess its shortcomings. To help you with your TMC search, we’ve identified some red flags to be on the lookout for when evaluating a partner to assist with your corporate travel program.
INADEQUATE TRAVELER CARE
When COVID-related travel bans and restrictions created mayhem in the first quarter of 2020, what business travelers needed most from their TMC was a responsive traveler care team to help them find a way back home. Instead, many experienced agonizing wait times to speak to a live travel counselor, conversations with chatbots that led nowhere, and messages from TMCs with poor servicing not to call during peak times.
Traveler care is one of the most basic and essential services a TMC offers, yet some TMCs flounder in this department because of inadequate call routing technology, a lack of skilled counselors, and limitations on how travelers can reach out for support.
What to beware of: Limited ways to contact the traveler care team; delays or an inability to reach a live representative; having to play 20 Questions for the travel counselor to figure out your profile and the reason you’re calling.
What we offer: Proactive rebooking support when flights get canceled or delayed; ability to contact our travel counselors 24/7 through multiple channels; traveler counselors who can instantly access your itinerary and preference information to expedite service.
LACK OF EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE
Travel management is already complex. Add to it the travel disruptions of last year and a total restructuring of program and traveler priorities and it can feel overwhelming.
In 2020, we saw the value of having a TMC with vast travel management expertise to lean on for guidance and hands-on support as companies overhauled their travel programs and budgets to adapt to the new environment. Companies too young to have been tested by past plights do not have a sea of knowledge and experience to adequately advise their clients on how to navigate today’s challenges. They’re up against a learning curve as steep as Mount Everest.
What to beware of: Startups with little history; scarcity of consultants who can assist with the more complicated aspects of travel management; little support/guidance on pivoting your program.
What we offer: Our journey has thrived throughout our 100+ years in business travel; our Global Business Consulting team is uniquely placed to deliver expert insight coupled with the latest technologies for your travel program.
SUBPAR DATA PROTECTION
Digitized data is increasingly needed at every touchpoint of a traveler’s journey. Bookings, boarding passes, invoices, payments, and perhaps soon COVID passports with test results and vaccine information – they all require traveler and company data to be created, captured, and transferred.
With the travel industry a prime target for hackers and more government regulations on how companies can use data, you need a TMC you can trust to responsibly manage and shield your sensitive information – not one that treats it as an afterthought.
What to beware of: No chief compliance and risk officer listed in the “our team” section of the website; zero mention of data/privacy security standards/certifications during sales discussions and a lot of hemming and hawing when pressed about them.
What we offer: The most rigorous data and privacy standards as the most highly regulated TMC and the only one to operate under Binding Corporate Rules; technology with built-in privacy protection; transparent privacy statements.
A LOT OF TALK WITHOUT SUBSTANCE
Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a TMC by its marketing blitz. That’s just a show, like a peacock creating the illusion it’s bigger than it really is.
When selecting a TMC that’s right for you, paid ads and sponsorships don’t matter. What does matter are the individual people who make up the TMC. They are the ones who are making sure your travelers are safe and well taken of. They are the ones who are working hard to negotiate favorable terms for your company. They are the ones who always have your back.
What to beware of: Aggressive marketing campaigns with misleading statistics and unverified claims; flashy and splashy sales tricks designed to dazzle the senses and deceive your logic.
What we offer: As part of the American Express family and the largest TMC in the world, we do have a large global presence, but our reputation speaks for itself and is based on the results and relationships we have built for decades. We don’t need showy billboards to prove our value.
To help you evaluate which TMC to choose as your travel partner, here’s an editable assessment checklist you can use to make sure the one you’re considering is ticking all the boxes.