It can be a challenge to identify savings in a well-established or even a new travel programme, independently. That’s our ‘why’ here at Clyde, as a trusted TMC partner to our broad customer portfolio.
Our Head of Sales and Customer Relations, Melanie Quinn sums it up perfectly here and demonstrates the great results she and her team have achieved for Clyde customers over the course of the pandemic as well as identifying opportunities for savings and efficiencies in the post pandemic travel programme.
1. Policy Review
If your travel policy pre-dates COVID, it’s out of date and requires a thorough review in collaboration with your TMC. We can give you advice on improvements that will contribute to cost management and improved compliance. These can include but are not limited to, class of travel enabling budget holders to make savings where appropriate or improve productivity and wellbeing for travellers, whilst they are away on business. Equally, if sustainability is high on your businesses agenda, this could be incorporated as a driver of policy.
Setting out clear guidelines for what is expected and the process of booking travel, creates greater compliance from travellers. Approvals are a good control on not just cost, but safety in the post COVID travel policy. Mandating travel through a TMC will assist you in gaining compliance to policy and insight through data into behaviours, that will provide continuous improvement over the course of the partnership. It can also reduce overheads in expense management as well as reducing additional cost in cases like rounding up taxi claims or claiming tips in restaurants. Be specific about your reimbursement requirements.
COVID has made the business of travelling for business much more complex, leading to risk management featuring heavily in policies, as well as contingency and disaster recovery. Pre-trip approvals, countries restrictions status alerts, traveller tracking and insurance details, as well as plan B and Disaster Recovery should all be outlined in your policy to ensure travellers feel confident they can travel and that they are protected should a situation occur.
A policy review creates the opportunity to improve what’s always been done and in-corporate new policy that will improve the performance of your programme and give travellers confidence that they are covered in any eventuality. At Clyde we achieve this through our collaborative and consultative approach to add value to our partnerships with customers. This is one of the reasons that in 2021 our customer retention rate was 98%, with 85% of our customers citing that their customer relations manager added value to the partnership.
2. Airfare Savings
Often the most expensive part of a global travel programme, not to mention the most emotive! Everyone has a favourite airline that is not just driven by the product, but also the benefits of flying with a specific airline. Within your policy you need to have clear direction on personal benefits such as frequent flyer points awarded to individuals who participate.
There are also airline company rewards that can impact your budget by redeeming them in flights, upgrades, hotel stays and even cash, in some circumstances. At Clyde our consultants check customer balances to ensure rewards are used and never lost. When we won the contract to provide our services to a large Oil and Gas company, we saved them £250,000 in year 1, by our effective management of their company airline reward schemes.
Technology enables us to continuously shop for lower airfares, even after ticketing. Our system checks up to 24 hours prior to departure for lower fares on the same airline and flight, when one becomes available the system alerts our consultant and they will reissue the ticket at the lower fare and the saving is passed back to the customer. In 2021, despite travel being almost impossible for half of the year and capacity on aircraft at approximately 60%, we saved one global ship management customer £19,000.
Choice is also a key consideration. There are now multiple distribution channels for airfares like the global distribution systems (a travel consultant’s traditional shop window to airfares), meta searches, web fares and NDC (New Distribution Capability). NDC is a direct channel for TMCs to access airfares direct from an airline.
Clyde are one of a handful of agents in the UK, that have invested in developing these API’s with airlines to offer our customers broader choice, at no extra cost. Where a TMC does not have their own technology, they will have to consume these fares via an aggregator, at a cost that can be passed to the customer.
Be sure to explore your TMC’s refund policy. Clyde’s is crystal clear…If you cancel a booking a credit note is processed within 72 hours to your account.
4. Unused Tickets
Often overlooked are unused tickets. What happens if a traveller does not travel? Quite often nothing, as no one knows and at the very least, taxes on the tickets are lost if not the full value, if a fully flexible ticket was booked.
Our processes mean that these golden nuggets of savings are not lost but credited back to our customer’s accounts. In 2021 we refunded £221,000 to one global shipping company in unused tickets.
5. Hotel VAT Reclaim
Using a TMC with a robust Billback process can save your travellers time and stress at check in, as well as save your organisation on the cost of hotel stays through VAT reclaim. Conferma is a globally accepted electronic form of payment for hotel bookings, ensuring the property have visibility of the payment method (i.e. the TMC not the traveller).
At Clyde we pay the bill and only invoice you once we receive the invoice from the hotel. We have a team of agents who double check the property has received payment on the day of arrival, so there is no confusion at the desk for the traveller and most importantly we provide you with quality backup to be able to make your VAT reclaim for all hotel stays, which could save you up to 20% depending on your tax jurisdiction.
Accuracy in invoicing is a must and there is no one size fits all. For companies with a high volume of transactions, an electronic invoicing system connected to your accounts payable system, can provide efficiencies in finance resource for reconciliation and approvals.
Sometimes, travel costs need to be associated to projects or vessels or are recharged to customers. Here bespoke consolidated invoices and data capture can provide clarity and speed up the allocation of recharging of costs.
Equally, some customers may prefer a PDF invoice for every transaction, hotel back up for VAT reclaim or for our invoices to be normalised by a 3rd party. At Clyde, we work with you to understand your finance processes and system, to ensure you get the most efficient solution for your requirements, ranging from XML files to consolidated invoicing.
7. Truly 24/7
If your business operates globally or is 24/7, you’ll need a TMC that mirrors your hours of working. For truly 24/7 TMCs like Clyde that means the service is the same whether you call or e-mail at 13.00 or 03.00, from wherever you are in the world. Because we are truly 24/7, we don’t charge you for the pleasure. Our fees and service are the same whatever time of day you call, with no surcharge if it happens to be ‘out of office hours’.
Technology can provide efficiencies and savings. A self-booking tool will normally attract a lower fee for the transaction and can provide efficiencies for organisations that have simple point to point itineraries or a need to book on the go. There are also technologies that speed up the booking process for those complex mobilisations associated with the Maritime, Offshore and Renewable sectors amongst others.
Consort, Clyde’s proprietary technology provides exactly this, but with the comfort of an experienced consultant working on the request via the system. A single source of truth for everyone involved in the booking process, whether they are shore based, on a vessel or a Clyde consultant.
9. Booking behaviour
Insights through data will identify areas for improvement in supplier selection and booking behaviour, but it can also add value to your traveller experience if you look beyond the cost. Many of Clyde’s negotiated hotel rates have value added benefits like free WIFI, parking or food and beverage discounts, that all contribute to overall savings on hotel stays as well as the comfort and wellbeing of travellers.
Further savings can be made in terms of properties that are included in your programme that provide leverage for bespoke rate negotiations for your company. Add to this improving advanced purchasing performance and there is much to be gained from the insight your TMC’s data can give to help you steer your business to better value performance in the travel programme.
10. Sustainable choices
If sustainability is a key driver in your organisation, you need to start with your supply. Some TMCs have preferred supplier programmes that are purely driven by the commercial benefit to the TMC of the supply. At Clyde we have developed our ‘Green List’ of suppliers. Evaluating the certified credentials of each of our major suppliers, so that our customers can make informed choices, if they wish.
We won’t make you plant a tree, but we can guide you to better choices, give you data on your emissions and share with you what we are doing support the communities we operate in and offset our own business travel. We can also recommend offsetting projects, but be under no illusions sustainable choices require investment, but it is an investment worth making.