In the early 2000’s as TMC’s began to stray from in-house technology development in favor of integrating third party technologies, the approach to TMC RFP’s began to shift. As opposed to focusing solely on proprietary technology differentiators, buyers started to ask questions about TMC’s competencies as technology integrators. Implementing third party technologies and layering multiple technologies in tandem in pursuit of corporate travel program optimization was first driven by the adoption of online booking tools.
How Did Corporate Travel TMC RFP Change?
Buyers wanted to understand the contractual relationships between TMC’s and technology suppliers including service levels, uptimes, and how these integrations drive efficiencies. Contracting new technologies either directly through the TMC as a reseller versus contracting directly with the technology company also became a focus of buyers as they navigated through a more complex RFP landscape.
In many ways, the success of third party booking tools paved the way for other types of travel related technologies and, as a result, further re-defined how buyers approached the market and specifically the RFP process.
An optimized corporate travel program morphed from a fully integrated solution/service offering from TMC to buyer to an interconnected set of process, operations, and technology integrations. As a management consultant, approaching corporate travel became less focused on sourcing a vertically integrated solution and more akin to a traditional supply chain sourcing event with everything from front end booking support to ticketing, fulfillment, reporting, and expense reimbursement. This changed the approach to RFP’s, they became more complex over time as more suppliers focused on functional sub-specialties.
Overview of The TMC RFP Process
Amidst the changing landscape in corporate travel, the TMC RFP became both more flexible and more complex. Traditional vertically integrated solutions forced many buyers “into a box” which made the process easier but may have provided some buyers a less adequate overall solution.
Historically, having an understanding of basic travel program statistics such as air spend by country, VIP service needs, reporting requirements, et cetera would suffice because the RFP exercise focused on satisfying the needs of as many travelers as possible with an understanding that there may be some limitations (either from an operations or technology perspective) with any given solution. But as more technology providers integrated TMC’s with customized and customizable solutions, buyers had the ability to better scrutinize solutions across the entire corporate travel supply chain. A mixing and matching of technology and process became possible and as a result, buyers could spend more time in nuanced internal discussion to explore unique business requirements to figure out how or if the supplier could provide the right service.
The ability to customize solutions began to erode the value of widely used RFP templates on the marketplace and many TMC’s started to demand bespoke RFP documents that reflected the intricacies of the travel program and business requirements of the buyer. Over time, we believe this shift has benefited suppliers and buyers.
Common Questions from a Client about TMC RFP
- How can Kesselrun Help?
- How does an organization use RFP travel management services?
- How long does the process typically take?
- Any advice to share?
These are the most typical questions we get when speaking with a potential client about a TMC RFP. The most important thing to keep in mind is that sourcing corporate travel is complex and once sourced and implemented it is very difficult to unwind. KesselRun has deep experience in every aspect of corporate travel and has been conducting TMC RFP’s for 20 years. We understand the marketplace better than anyone and possess a full range of expertise in terms of travel agency operations, technology, service, and pricing. In most cases, the value we bring when helping buyers conduct a TMC RFP pays for itself.
KesselRun can provide a number of business travel consulting services depending on client desire and needs. In some cases, we take the lead and interact directly with the suppliers. In other cases, we are completely behind the scenes and just provide counsel to our clients.
Depending on the size of the client’s program, a TMC RFP can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 1 year. Our advice: if you are looking to conduct a TMC RFP, do it right, not fast. In today’s environment, we have to find the right fit for buyers, suppliers, and the end user – the traveler. Today’s traveler has a lot of options and our goal is to provide the most compelling solution that is easy to use while driving cost savings.
If you’re looking for help with your TMC RFP, contact us online today.