March 3, 2024

The perfect match

Finding the right TMC isn't easy, says ITM CEO Scott Davies, but when you do 'hold them close, treat them well, make time for each other'

When a company appraises its TMC partner or looks to tender for a new one there are many factors to consider.

Despite the ongoing consolidation over the last few decades, there is still a multitude of protagonists from which to choose and, typically, a business will select around half a dozen for its shortlist.

Assessment criteria will include items such as footprint and international presence, technology stack, agility and customisation, sector specialisms, content access, commercial leverage and, of course, pricing.

Operational resourcing and resilience have been on this list too, and they have arguably sat at the top since travel resumed.

The good news is that most of these elements can be expressed and compared relatively objectively, using tried and tested metrics.

However, ITM’s buyer members consistently tell me that the overriding criteria that trumps all others when matching a TMC partner is cultural fit.

But how in the world do you go about sussing out the culture of your prospective TMC and subsequently, whether it will complement that of your organisation?

Of course, you can read or hear testimonials of the TMC’s existing customers, and this is probably well worth doing. Better still, try to spend a day or more within the TMC’s business, to observe how they work, how they interact with and support each other.

But none of this will be useful unless you fully understand the culture of your own company.

Your values need to sit well with any potential partner, especially given the highly emotive nature of business travel. Equally, I’m afraid any weaknesses and inconsistencies in your corporate culture may be projected onto your TMC over time, particularly when things get tricky.

So, as in other kinds of relationships, finding the perfect one for you may not be easy. But when you do, hold them close, treat them well, make time for each other, don’t skip date night.

Oh sorry, I seem to have gone too far with this metaphor!

itm.org.uk

See The Business Travel Magazine’s 2023 TMC Guide and Directory