A medium fish in a big pond: managing a midmarket travel program
Sometimes it seems like the “global giants” take all the focus in the business travel industry.
The industry as a whole is laser-focused on large multinational clients who spend USD 100M+ across multiple global markets. Client panels at industry events mainly feature managers of these more substantial programs, where it’s hard to know what applies to you as a midmarket client.
So what’s a mid-market travel program manager to do? Where do you start when looking at global consolidation? Where should your key focus areas be, and which elements are more relevant to the “global giants?”
What is a mid-sized global client?
Generally, the industry categorizes mid-market clients as companies spending between 20M – 60M USD on global transient business travel in 3+ markets, usually with meetings and events as an additional spend line.
Where should your focus be?
When we look at mid-market global consolidation at Radius Travel, we focus on three key areas:
1) The user experience
User experience is vital to driving internal adoption and ensuring users make the right choices for the business.
Here’s what to consider:
- The user journey – your process should make life easier for bookers
- Presenting bookers with not only the best options but also the right options, in line with company policy
- Addressing security needs, such as traveler tracking
- Rates and products sourced covering all requirements
- Everything in one place: offline/online capabilities and technology that is supported by a 24-hour team
With an enjoyable user experience, travelers will come on board willingly, stay within policy, and make good choices for the business.
Consider stakeholder engagement. Needs across all the departments and people connected to a global travel program are often varied and specific to each area. Bookers, the procurement team, regional departmental heads, human resources, and finance (to name a few!) will all require the system to work for them and solve their specific needs.
By actively encouraging early stakeholder engagement through discovery sessions, you can understand the pain points of each area, while also making sure the business understands the overall aims of implementing a centralized system. If you get this right, you can hugely increase policy compliance and adoption rates across your organization.
2) Global leverage
Consider the return of investment of your program. Does your TMC have:
- expert rate sourcing capabilities
- global reach
- a vision to grow and incorporate value-added services when the time is right (such as integrating meetings & events)
If your TMC has global leverage, they will check all of these boxes, and ensure you are investing with a TMC with the resource, scale, and expertise to maximize your global opportunity.
Savings optimization and value add statements should provide you with a clear picture of where the return will be driven from for your organization. Be sure you have a clear overview of the value you will gain, and that the program is not only ready for current requirements but is also “future-proofed.”
3) Overall program costs
There is a lot of choice out there when determining a travel program, so take the time to understand which solution best fits your needs. Your TMC should provide a clear picture of the pros and cons of industry technology, payment forms, and travel management interaction.
Ask yourself the following questions when determining what will fit best for your organization:
- What are you investing in?
- Which online booking tool suits your needs?
- Are you better suited with a best-in-market solution or a more standardized system?
Reporting is often one of the first requirements on a global consolidator’s list. Reporting tools should provide both a snapshot of your global business spend, but also a more in-depth overview for more informed business decisions.
A dedicated global account manager will be vital to analyzing your data and providing recommendations. Once you have the basics right, you can look at additional technology such as repricing tools and data analytics, which will provide further opportunities to optimize a travel program.
Overall, these three key areas will provide you with a strong foundation to implement a travel program that drives value and grants transparency, and allow you to focus on driving meaningful actions, avoiding costs, and managing traveler behavior.
Director, Global Sales, EMEA, Radius Travel
Greg brings a wealth of TMC and sales experience to the Radius Travel team. As former Head of Sales at CTM (formerly Redfern), his expertise lies in winning mid-size clients.