How To Evaluate An RFP For A Travel Management Company? (+Free Checklist)
With the overwhelming changes experienced in the travel industry in the last year and a half, a great deal of responsibility is now on the travel managers to choose travel management solutions that provide cost control, excellent travel experience, and traveler safety. And the best way to evaluate any travel management solution for your company is through RFP – Request for Proposal. It is a process that helps you compare and analyze the software solution available to you on various parameters.
This blog will help you understand how to evaluate RFP requests for travel management in your company. We also have a free downloadable template that you can use as a guide during your vendor evaluation process. First, let’s take a quick look at what exactly RFP is and why it is important.
What Is An RFP?
Request for Proposal (RFP) in business travel is a detailed document in which businesses identify and detail their business travel needs and invite solutions from potential travel management companies (TMC). RFPs are very different from both a Request for Quotation (RFQ) and a Request for Information (RFI) as it requires more detailed responses from the TMCs. In the case of Request for Information (RFI), it gets you the general information about the vendors, and the Request for Quotation (RFQ) gets you the pricing and payment.
RFP in travel helps you evaluate various vendors and find a travel management company that will best help you in saving costs & time, increasing productivity, efficiency, etc. It helps you analyze what the vendors bring to the table and choose the one best suited for your business travel needs.
Let’s say you have drafted and issued Requests of Proposal to a bunch of travel management companies you are interested in and have received a good response from them. Now you are faced with the challenge of evaluating them. Evaluation of an RFP is as important as sending out the RFP. There are multiple factors that you need to consider to find the perfect solution for your organization.
How To Evaluate RFP Responses From A TMC: Key Factors
Before evaluating the RFPs for travel management companies, having a list of factors that align with your company’s needs is important. This will help you critically analyze each element during selection and speed up the evaluation process. A few and necessary factors to look out for are:
While evaluating the travel management company, you should ask for brief company history. Look for the experience and knowledge base of the vendor. You must ask for:
- A brief company background
- How long have they been in the industry?
- Who are their major clients and what is the average account size of each client?
With the responses of these questions, you will get an idea of the expertise they have in your industry or as a travel management company in general. The importance of the vendor’s experience and knowledge base will determine the products or features that they will come up with in the future. When this factor is considered, you can be sure that the solution will work for your company in the long run.
Another factor to be checked here is that if the travel management company has successfully delivered for clients. Make sure you check references and case studies of different clients that include everything about how the travel solution provider helped the client solve a particular problem with finesse. This gives you a look into how the future would look if you go with the vendor.
2. 24*7 Support & Traveler-First Philosophy
The safety of your employees should be your first priority. A travel management solution that can give your travelers 24*7 support has already hit the ball out of the park. When business travelers are abroad, it gets necessary that they be given 24*7 support to help them navigate everything easily in a new and foreign place. Apart from this, the travel management company should also offer on-call or chat support with live agents in case of emergencies.
3. Business Travel Inventory
The travel management company should offer your employees access to global travel inventory including transportation such as airplanes, trains, rental cars, etc, and accommodation such as hotels, Airbnbs, studio apartments, etc. The employees should be able to check the availability of hotel rooms, flights, to make and confirm reservations in real-time. Apart from this, they should also give offers on group bookings, and leisure travel and more. This will also help you in cost savings for your company.
4. Top-level Technology
Even before you start the RFP process, a go-live time is set in your mind. Make sure the travel management company you choose has integration capabilities and can meet your timelines. Furthermore, consider how easily changes can be made in the solution to adapt to your company’s unique requirements? Does it have an inbuilt travel policy feature? Does it offer flexibility for customizing categories and travel policy features? Does it provide real-time data visibility?
Apart from this, the travel management solution must have both mobile and desktop interfaces. This factor is important as the number of employees filing expenses through the convenience of their mobile phones has increased over the years. This convenience is what will help you get your employees to adopt the solution you choose for your company.
5. The Cost Of T&E Management Software
The annual cost of travel management solutions is one of the significant factors to keep in mind while evaluating your RFPs. Things to consider here are how the solution is priced, is it charged based on pay per user or annually/ quarterly? You also need to evaluate if there are any annual maintenance charges? Apart from this, also, watch out for any hidden fee – for instance, extra charges for making any customization or additional costs for services.
6. Integrated T&E solution
Having separate vendors for travel and expense management isn’t efficient in the long run. Look for a TMC that provides both travel booking and expense management solutions. Not only will you be able to get deeper data insight to control cost and build a business travel strategy, but an integrated T&E solution will truly make your corporate travel seamless, from booking tickets to filing expense reports, to reimbursements.
There’s No Hurry!
This whole RFP evaluation process can be made easy with the help of weighted scoring for each factor as per your company’s travel and business requirements. You can do that by adding values to different criteria like giving cost a weightage of 20% and traveler safety a weightage of 25% etc. Doing this helps you carefully evaluate and shortlist a travel management software that covers the requirements for your company.
Speaking of meeting requirements, ITILITE is a cloud-based, truly integrated travel & expense solution that reduces cost leakage by giving you better spend data visibility, 100% policy compliance, and a much better experience for the employees. To see if we can be a strong contender in your RFP process, reach out to our product expert for a free demo today!
Free Template To Evaluate RFP
A quick Google search for a free RFP evaluation template can bombard you with many choices. It is prudent to look through the templates you find online and choose the questions for evaluation that are best suited for your company with requirements in mind. Having said that, here is a template you can use to evaluate RFP responses from various TMCs. Feel free to customize it according to your needs.