Transitioning to a new travel management company can seem like a daunting process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult challenge. Here are a few suggestions for travel managers and business leaders beginning a relationship with a new TMC on how to manage the change internally.
Set expectations for the transition
Generally speaking, why do people resist change? In many cases, it's because of fear that the new paradigm will negatively impact their daily lives, or just fear of the unknown. Even if business leaders understand that a given change is a positive one, employees may hold onto to silent trepidations about new processes and policies, which could manifest in many different ways, including continued use of off-policy booking channels.
According to research reported on by Scientific American, when at least one-quarter of a given group supports a plan, the rest are more likely to follow along. In other words, stakeholders can relieve some of the stress of change management by focusing their efforts on the individuals already on board, who will act as advocates for others in your organization.
To ensure change happens smoothly, however, leaders must first establish expectations for all members of the partnership, especially when it comes to duty of care and return on investment (ROI).
Duty of care
A moral and legal obligation, duty of care should be the primary focus of any new TMC partnership. Change management that strongly supports and encourages traveller buy-in, and booking through the TMC partner, helps businesses stay on top of their duty of care responsibilities to their travellers. Non-compliance – where travellers book outside of the endorsed travel program channels – results in lost data visibility and an inability to track travellers should an issue arise. Finding the balance between traveller satisfaction and organizational control can be challenging, but businesses need to stress the importance of compliance for the safety and security of their travellers.
During the implementation phase, delivering a positive experience to end-users should be a key area of focus. This leads to a consolidated travel program and provides businesses with relevant travel data to support risk management initiatives. Events affecting travellers can happen anytime, anywhere and working with TMC resources, as well as internal duty of care processes across your risk, HR or travel departments, aligns business objectives and provides support for travellers.
Return on Investment
From a business perspective, all parties should have clearly defined financial expectations about the requirements on both sides to create a win-win partnership. With an understanding of the current environment and travel program, the new TMC should be able to identify potential supplier savings options as well as opportunities for increasing policy compliance. Efficiencies within a travel program can be found and addressed in a number of ways to positively impact cost avoidance as well as cost savings.
By reviewing existing supplier programs and agreements, the new TMC will be able to provide guidance on how well they are performing compared to other similarly sized clients. Implementing tools and technologies that can be customized specifically for the organization's needs will also support the bottom line. These could include the automation of approval technology, travel credit tracking, quality control technology and ticketing, combined with reporting on traveller behaviour. An experienced TMC will also have discussions to understand an organization’s goals and objectives. It is important to identify whether they are realistic and the best course of action for achieving sustainable savings in a manner which fits with business objectives and company culture. Anything that is implemented will need to be communicated through the change management process to keep travellers informed and engaged with the new TMC.
Engage stakeholders from the outset
According to McKinsey and Company, successful change is 30 percent more likely when the people involved are truly invested. Meanwhile, 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals due at least in part to a lack of management support. If timeline goals aren't being met, it could indicate that stakeholders aren't actively engaged in the process. Travel managers and leaders need to identify individuals who will champion the new TMC partnership and help everyone overcome the inevitable challenges that will arise over the course of the change.
Communication and feedback
Throughout the change process, communication must be a priority. Speaking with CIO magazine, change management expert and former Cisco CFO Frank Calderoni recommended that stakeholders utilize multiple channels to engage people on a personal level. Written collateral, such as emails and newsletters, should be supplemented with interactive channels such as town halls and surveys.
Any major organizational change will have its dissenting voices. Ultimately, it's important to listen to this feedback and use it as an opportunity to inform internal teams, clarify misunderstandings, or improve procedures.
Every company's business travel needs are unique. To learn more about how to customize your travel program for optimal ROI, compliance and traveller safety, contact us today.