“What information did I forget to include?” the travel consultant said to me as we discussed a request for proposal for travel management services.
“I don’t see any requirements for group travel. You need to add all of the meeting and event group travel service expectations to your request for proposal.” I replied.
“But I’ve never added group travel requirements to any other travel management request for proposal” the consultant said hesitantly. Of course, I knew better than to verbalize what was ready to spew out of my mouth. Thank goodness for the brain’s ability to affix a filter. At first, it was "WHAT?" then I realized that the travel consultant did not know the requirements for group travel. In fact, many travel consultants and travel managers are not familiar with group travel needs.
“Would you like me to do it for you?” I asked.
Group travel for meetings and events should be managed through the organization’s Travel Management Company (TMC) directly and not through the TMC of the meeting management company, the destination management company or any other 3rd party. As such, travel managers should request group travel needs from their TMC. Yet, many travel managers don’t partner with meeting managers and so the group travel service expectations may be disregarded.
One mid-sized client knew that they were using two travel management companies for business travel. After I conducted a thorough spend analysis and uncovered some hefty payments to meeting management companies, I found that two additional travel management companies were used for group travel and the airline tickets were funneled through the meeting management companies. As a result, the company used four travel management companies in the U.S. which decreased transparency into their total air volume, reduced their airline discounts, and diminished their ability to track employees during times of crisis. They did not use any online booking tools. They also used one travel management company outside of the U.S. Worse yet, they had unused tickets and credits with all four U.S. travel management companies that had expired because employees would use one TMC for business travel and another TMC for group travel so the staff lost track of what tickets may have been available for use. (Sharing the story approved as long as the company remained anonymous)
It is imperative for an organization to gain transparency into their total air costs, use their airline discounts and use one TMC in order to track staff during crises. For these reasons, it is never a wise practice to use multiple TMCs for business travel or to manage group travel for meetings/events. Business leaders want one supplier that can manage all of their travel requirements, preferably at the global level. However, global requirements may result in the use of multiple TMCs and different global distribution systems.
An organization’s meeting management technology should be integrated with an online booking tool that allows for group bookings. Of course, there are times when agent-assisted tasks will be necessary. I was lucky to have the best group travel manager at PwC who taught me so much about the group travel requirements. If you are writing a request for proposal for travel management services, add the following requirements for group travel:
• Manage group air, rail or other method of transportation;
• Provide group travel bookings through the preferred online booking tool (may be through the TMC or online booking tool contract)
• Determine the most cost effective and the best “lift” availability (quantity of airlines and flights in and out of a location) per location via an air analysis;
• Provide arrival and departure (A&D) manifests to meeting planners as frequently as needed;
• Search and offer the lowest applicable airfare available at the time of booking in the GDS and through designated content tools and aggregators; evaluate negotiated rates, publicly available fares and group specific fares such as zone fares or block space to determine the best approach for group and meeting related bookings based on the parameters provided;
• Negotiate group specific air contracts with airlines (or may be managed through the organization);
• Design a flight movement plan;
• Block group space;
• Negotiate and manage airline contracts for all blocked seating;
• Monitor attrition/cancellation/deadlines for penalties of unused seats;
• Obtain refunds from deposits as applicable;
• Collect meeting parameters and recommend appropriate air booking method based on the size and scope of the program;
• Flag and notify company when more than the allowable company travelers are on one aircraft;
• Obtain out-of-parameter group travel approvals when applicable;
• Collect data that may be needed for regulatory purposes;
• Track and report on incidents; manage crisis situations; and,
• Prepare reports; Post air reports should include passenger name, air routing, departure date, return date, layovers, multi-routing information, date of charge, billing date, debit/credit indicators, billing amounts and service fees, charge description, ticket number, air ticket issuer, air class of service, air carrier code, lost savings and other data that may be required.
Of course, pricing for the above items is negotiable as are the fees for pulling passenger name records. If you need any help with your travel management company request for proposal or any other travel or meeting service, please reach out to me.
Visit Debi at one of her upcoming speaking engagements:
Topics vary per conference
Some sessions include components of SMM Bootcamp© and/or SMM Challenge©
May 3-5 - Collaborate Marketplace
May 20 – MPI Orange County’s 6th Annual Education Conference and Expo
May 25 – Meetings Technology Expo (early morning)
May 25 – Financial and Insurance Meeting Planners Conference (late morning)
June 21 - Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition
June 30 – EMC Venue’s MEET
August 2 – Georgia BTA
August 21 - 24 - GBTA Convention
Sept 7 – HSMAI Affordable Meetings
December 1 – EMC Venue’s MEET
Thank you for visiting the T&E Plus Blog on expense management, travel management, business meetings, events, incentives, strategic meetings management, entertainment, virtual meetings, tickets, hotels, airlines, ground transportation, T&E policy, plus more...
Debi Scholar, GLP, CMM, CMP, CTE, CTT, Six Sigma Green Belt
• Meetings Management Mover and Shaker as selected by Corporate and Incentive Travel Magazine (2010)
• Top 20 Changemaker who influenced the meetings management industry by Corporate Meetings and Incentives (2008)
• Best Meeting Practitioner as selected by Business Travel News (2007)
The Scholar Consulting Group LLC
Benchmark your Strategic Meetings Management Program: http://www.smmbenchmark.com
Debi has the following designations:
• Wharton Aresty Executive Education/National Business Travel Association (NBTA) Global Leadership Professional (GLP)
• Meeting Professionals International Certificate in Meetings Management (CMM)
• Convention Industry Council Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
• NBTA Corporate Travel Expert (CTE)
• Six Sigma Green Belt
• Chauncey Certified Technical Trainer (CTT)