8 critical questions for tmc


8 critical questions to ask your travel management company


If your company is already working with a travel management company (TMC), then you might be aware of the type of services they offer.  

But are you really getting the most out of your partnership? What questions can you ask to plan for future business travel needs? And if the answers aren’t measuring up, maybe it’s time to look at an alternative.  


We've narrowed down 8 critical questions you should be asking your travel partner right now: 

Person sitting at laptop looking at travel management report

1. Who's my dedicated travel consultant or travel manager?

When you have travel questions, need help with booking, or an emergency pops up, who is your dedicated travel consultant? What does a corporate travel manager do?  If you don't know their name or don't speak to the same person when you call, how can you be sure you're getting quality service from someone you know and trust? 

At Corporate Traveler, we make it a priority to get to know our clients and their business. Our dedicated travel consultants - who have an average tenure of 8 years - become the experts of your account and know the ins and outs of your program, your policy, people, preferences, and even your travel culture. This allows you to maintain one point of contact to receive personalized service every time you call.     

"Corporate Traveler provides a level of service that's both thorough and anticipatory. We're an incredibly fast-moving business and to have a partner as nimble as us managing our travel needs is invaluable," says Caroline Roche, the Chief of Staff at Bumble. A great travel manager will anticipate your needs and solve problems quickly. 

2. Do you have service level agreements (SLAs)? 

Does your TMC have minimum standards for hold times, ring times or turnaround times on all requests? Make sure to look for standards on non-transactional requests, like reporting and issue resolution. You’ll want to set clear expectations for what your company and travelers need, especially since 60% of travel buyers expect more travel in the coming year

Making sure your TMC is giving your team professional, speedy service is crucial for keeping your travelers happy and fostering a positive travel culture within the company.  What can your TMC do to maximize your travel program? Ask your TMC what they do differently than in-house travel management teams. "I think when we found out we were going to be working with an outside vendor for our travel needs, I expected a training session on how to log on with a portal or how to book things - things that weren't that much different than what we would have done on our own," says Gretchen Sheirr, President of Business Operations for the Houston Rockets.  

"But what we've found is we have an extension of our own company which feels like a colleague, and a coworker and a partner in Corporate Traveler." The Rockets might be traveling 20 days per month, with up to 4 cities a week, so finding new ways to be more efficient is a win. 

3. What do I do when it's an emergency?

What happens when a group flight is canceled? Or a natural disaster disrupts your travelers plans?Do you have a plan for who to contact, and procedures in place for them to follow? If your current solution leaves you feeling stranded when you need them the most, you’ll want to work with a team that’s quick on their feet. Your TMC should be able to quickly access your company policy and risk management plan and leverage their relationships with airlines, hotels and ground transport suppliers when needed.  

Need a reliable expert that's always there, 24/7? Missed flights or sudden changes? We've got it covered, guiding you to quick and flexible solutions. When the crew of Blast! Film was stranded in Siberia, the Corporate Traveler team jumped in to get them home safely.  

4. Who do I talk to about reviewing my travel policy and program? 

Is your travel program beginning to feel stale? Do you have a go-to contact to look for proactive solutions, and do you know them by name? Every business that travels should have a travel policy in place and a program that can be reviewed regularly. Before issues catch you off guard, find out if you currently have someone who can help you identify holes in your current program and places to bulk it up. 

The travel industry is always changing. Prices fluctuate, suppliers change, and there are new hotel developments, new partnerships, and technology shifts. With recent concerns about inflation, the rising cost of travel is the top issue for travel managers in 2024.  

A customer success team helps keep you in the loop, boosts savings, and drives value for your corporate travel program

To keep travel management on track, download our free TMC checklist and review it with your TMC on a yearly basis. 

Two people looking at a tablet as they analyze their travel partner

5. What does your current travel tech offer? 

How can your travel tech help you save time? The best combinations of technology and tools can help you simplify complicated booking situations. For Eliquent Life Sciences, using Melon and single-use cards helped to streamline their 30-60 bookings per month and reduced accommodation, their biggest travel expense.  

Policy control is also way less of an issue for everyone if the tool has an auto-policy selection. That way, travelers don't need to choose the approved option. Does your current solution give you a quick, user-friendly way of making bookings? Or access to live-chat from any device? 

Did you know that business travelers on average spend 45 minutes on booking? And that's not counting time for re-booking or troubleshooting if delays or weather changes happen. Your company needs to be able to make a standard booking in minutes, input traveler preferences, frequent flyer miles, and so much more. Travel platforms like Melon offer ultra-intuitive 5-minute booking, or a live-chat option if you prefer to have personalized support. 

Watch a short demo to see how. 

6. What other technology do you have to streamline my travel processes? 

There's more to managing travel than an online booking tool and an app. Find out if their tech offers the following: 

  • Tools that automate reconciliation. 
  • Flexible payment options. 
  • Visibility of your travel data through reports. 
  • Traveler tracking. 
  • Technology that has all of the above plus a booking tool all-in-one. 

Once you have a bird's-eye view of what tools your TMC offers and how they integrate, it's easier to narrow down which tools make your program seamless. Does your technology solution integrate with expensing platforms? Can you drill down on the metrics you need with robust reporting solutions? Can you easily track travelers and ensure their safety while on the road. Technology isn't just functional. It can be the guiding light of your travel program that keeps everything in view.  

7. What added value can you offer me as a customer? 

Travel managers are full of information on the top tips for travel and the latest industry trends. Got questions about how to handle loyalty points? When's a good time to update a travel policy? What are the newest travel risks?  Do employees come to you with basic questions about traveling? We can help with that too. Put business travelers at ease with tools and resources like the most common business travel questions or this business travel checklist for executive assistants.  

The safety and comfort of your business travelers is the top priority for TMCs. Ask your travel partner about special programs or extras for hotel stays (like late check-out, upgrades, restaurant vouchers or free laundry services). Make sure your travel provider continues to bring value above and beyond their booking service. Corporate Traveler has the industry's first partnership with Uber for Business, which helps clients better manage employee and customer travel while on the go.  

8. How do you manage last-minute changes and requests?

When questioning a potential TMC, it's important to know how they would support your business through difficult times like political or civil unrest, health scares, or environmental disasters. Will you have a dedicated point of contact who can guide your travelers through stressful and/or scary times? Opt for a TMC that can deliver that personalized support regardless of your account size. 

Having an after-hours team isn't just a logistical lifesaver; it's also a huge part of your travel risk management plan and helps you to meet your duty of care obligations. Our technology platform, Melon, has risk management built-in with alert impact reporting, risk destination mapping, travel security alerts, country/city security assessment ratings, and location sharing. 

To keep travel management on track, download our free TMC checklist and review it with your TMC on a yearly basis. 

What a quality travel partnership looks like 

Evaluating your TMC, whether it's a current partner or a new vendor comes down to communication, reliability and trust. Can you count on your TMC to support your business travelers when it's most needed? Is there good communication on upcoming changes and a focus on continuous improvement? Are concerns and criticisms addressed quickly and comprehensively?  

A good partnership should extend the abilities of your internal team, without stretching company time or resources. Travel industry experts can bring their extensive knowledge to help your travel program and policies become more efficient, cost-effective and safe. Corporate Traveler does it right so that you can focus on your strengths - growing the business! 

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