You liked sourcing?

You’re going to love implementation…

You have chosen your Travel Management Company (TMC) partner and now it’s time for implementation. As with anything related to travel management, it’s all about the details – and a lot has changed in the last five years.

Implementation Isn’t as Easy as It Sounds

Implementation has grown increasingly more challenging. Not only are you managing multiple stakeholders, old and new, internal and external, the technological aspects of any TMC contract have become exceedingly complex due to the digitization of the value chain, the emergence of multi-channel distribution, stringent data privacy and security requirements, and the growing emphasis on Responsible Supplier Engagement (RSE) and CO² reporting.

Additionally, surprises along the way can create major setbacks. One of the most common issues we encounter with our clients is that the implementation plan (and de-implementation of the incumbent) has been insufficiently evaluated to maintain a continuous flow throughout the project. Consider how well you have described your company profile, organization, required services, HR databases, ERP’s and accounting programs, security aspects, and required workflows. As you progress, you may uncover unforeseen issues that require contingency planning, issues resolution, or even change requests. It is important to be flexible to keep the project moving forward.

You may also discover an affiliate’s major organizational differences, culturally or legally, that require adaptation and creativity from all parties involved – both your organization and your suppliers’ capabilities. You may have decided on a global core model for your staff booking, but in one of your main countries, due to exceptionally low, local labor cost, the local C-level management insist upon a “white glove” service without any tech – more as a symbol of prestige versus ROI.

Ultimately, a flawed implementation can lead to credibility issues, disruptions for travelers and arrangers, and complications in the payment chain with suppliers, all of which can impact sales and company performance.

So, how can you orchestrate a successful implementation? Setting yourself up with a few simple, yet practical, solutions can make all the difference.

Five Keys to a Successful Implementation

  1. Thoroughly Define Your Requirements Early. Don’t underestimate the importance of specifying your needs right from the tendering stage. Successful implementation hinges on a seamless integration of external and internal tools between your organization and your TMC partner. This integration spans various interfaces, including your HR database for traveler profiles, IS-IT certification for all the SAS & cloud tools, and interfaces you’ll be using for expenses and ERP for payment and reconciliation of the services. This approach minimizes data duplication, ensures robust authentication, and optimizes efficiency for both your organization and travelers.
  2. Build a Compelling Business Case. Sourcing processes and implementation of new services and technology are expensive games and should deliver a positive ROI to the company while at the same time improve the user’s life. Your business case should cover all aspects of the process with realistic assumption regarding resources, timelines, core team members and stakeholder’s benefits. It needs to be convincing enough to engage management into the project and be credible to the market.
  3. Perform In-Depth Due Diligence. Investigate the capabilities, certifications, and preferred relationships of your suppliers and partners. Through the evolution of cybersecurity, data protection rules and integration of applications in the global IT infrastructure of a company, a strong vetting is required. Ensure they have the capacity to support the project throughout the contract duration and across the relevant countries.
  4. Establish a Strong Collaborative Governance. A strong project governance involves key internal stakeholders required to evaluate and implement the services and solutions you have envisioned across all stages: tendering, contracting and implementation. For example, your IS-IT teams’ input is critical in the selection process (due diligence) and the implementation support they will provide, as this may not be standardized across all regions and countries.
  5. Allocate Adequate Resources Post-Implementation. Beyond the implementation phase, be prepared with the necessary resources to support travelers and arrangers. Applications will require maintenance and improvements, people may change roles, market and policies will evolve further, and help and training will be required for newcomers and/or acquisitions. Be ready for continuous improvement and ongoing communication.

Areka Can Help

At Areka, we have developed a state of the art and demonstrated methodology covering the implementation of TMCs, following years of servicing challenging global tendering and implementations.

Our team of experts, located across five continents, have a unique set of expertise in travel agencies operations, tools and technology, payment system and contractual topics, combined with high skills in program management, change and communication. We are here to help. Contact the team today.

We would also love to hear what is working for you. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Charlie Bacharach, Senior Vice President of North America

Charlie Bacharach is Senior Vice President of North America, for Areka, based in New York. He has spent the last 20 years helping clients to advance their corporate travel programs by introducing new technologies, implementing innovative practices, and aligning mobility solutions to the needs of corporations and other organizations. His expertise extends to program design, booking tools and travel technology, supplier management and sourcing, as well as project management and change management.

Charlie has an established record of rapidly growing and scaling businesses in the travel sector, while delivering world-class services and project execution to his global clientele. Having held executive leadership positions with Orbitz for Business, Travel Leaders Corporate and Egencia, he has helped hundreds of companies transform their management of corporate travel spend, from first-time program implementations to global standardization of processes and procedures.

When he is not helping clients solve their travel management challenges, Charlie practices yoga and martial arts. He also enjoys golf, cooking and following New York-based sports teams. Though his wife and two children are pressing him to modernize his playlist, Charlie continues to be a die-hard fan of the Allman Brothers, Steely Dan, and the Rolling Stones.