I find it fascinating that in our industry we’re willing to accept 80% as good enough. Today, a travel customer’s expectations for service are set by companies like GE, Amazon, Apple and Zappos – not by other travel companies. At organizations such as these, “almost there” is not good enough; a 80% solution is one that drives a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project to determine a fix.
Gant Travel’s relationship with Concur began in 2006, but in late 2011 everything changed. We wanted a more strategic partnership, one that does not make us settle for 80%. We set a goal to become the best travel management company in the world for the Concur Travel and Expense user. In the past 24 months, we have pursued this vision by creating a strong service brand for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) on Concur. It’s in the context of serving the SME client that we share some of our thoughts on why TripLink is the way forward.
TripLink helps us fulfill responsibilities as a TMC and/or Travel Manager.
When a travel management company and a person’s employer help with arranging travel, they are responsible for that person’s care. They have to know where their travelers are at all times.
For SME clients, TripLink provides a simple and convenient method for controlling traveler information on any independently booked travel. The traveler can automatically convey that information to the company with no forms or back-and-forth emails involved - just results. The company knows 100% of the time which travel supplier every employee is using.
Right now, there’s a misconception in the marketplace. Contrary to what some in the industry would believe, an “open booking” solution such as TripLink is not competition to TMCs or travel managers. It is automation that provides everyone with the essential information they are legally required to know. It grabs essential pieces of itinerary data that reveal where your people are at any given time, 100% of the time. The outcome: TripLink allows a TMC to fulfill a service extremely economically, saving money for other important priorities (like the travel manager’s salary).
TripLink improves negotiations and supplier management
While TripLink is essential for emergencies, that’s not the only way it affects a small business’s travel accommodations. I don’t want to minimize the importance of safety in crisis situations; however, TripLink’s secondary benefits are significant.
We all have travelers who book independently in our programs. I’m sometimes one of them. For instance, I often book hotels through an association running a conference I’m attending. I compare the conference rate to the best available; if it makes sense, I will book through them rather than through our official rate program. Whenever I booked a hotel outside of our booking channels, there wasn’t a simple way to get my hotel info back to my team.
When your employees do the same, they might believe they are saving money for the company. They don’t stop to think of the unintended consequences of “contract leakage” if your firm already has an agreement with the property they booked.
If you’re using TripLink, that information is now accessible. The authorized TMC and their travel manager now have the data they need to be able to negotiate with the travel supplier. They can add what the employee booked directly to their total spend with that particular supplier. The travel manager can use that data to negotiate better rates, and those savings can be significant.This outcome is possible because the information is captured by TripLink 100% of the time.
In short, open booking tools like TripLink are not going to walk the dog, take out the trash or change the oil in your Prius. However, open booking tools can provide essential information, and when you have the essential information to effectively deal with crises and negotiate to your advantage, you’ll seem smarter, have more money to use on larger priorities and become more confident in the process (thus more attractive and interesting) – not just some of the time, but 100% of the time.
About the Author
Patrick Linnihan is the President of Gant Travel, a corporate travel management and meeting company that specializes in supporting the Concur traveler. Patrick is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Patrick served as the Vice President of Gant from August 1998 to June 2002 and returned to Gant as President in May 2005. Previously, Patrick worked in service leadership and sales roles with GE Medical Systems and Pfizer.
For more resources on evolving TMC services, visit https://www.concur.com/en-us/for-tmcs.