When you consider your own business trip, it is natural to immediately focus on an integral part of your trip being either an air or train ticket. However, for a Travel Management Company to truly manage their customers travel needs, the supply chain needs to be so much more expansive than airlines and train operators.
From car rental to chauffeur rides and from visa providers to technical solutions, the list of suppliers needed to offer total trip management is significant and varied. With new emerging markets, travelling on business to a city for the first time is becoming much more common, and by overlooking what I believe to be the most important part of a trip is the logistics of getting to your final destination from the airport you have just arrived from.
This is a part of your itinerary that can result in time wasted, unnecessary expense and in some case a sense of risk from a duty of care perspective.
Having a fully rounded supply chain with vetted and trusted suppliers, removes the afore mentioned risks and allows a pre-booked seamless onward travel to your accommodation, vessel, or business meeting.
However, the work does not stop there, in order to service our customer’s needs, it is imperative to create and build on strong mutual partnerships to maximise the benefits for all stakeholders, The Supplier, the Customer & the Travel Management Company.
Supplier Relations Management is the enabler to build up and maintain an all-encompassing, trusted and leading travel supplier chain for its customers.
The importance of relationships in travel management
Being open and transparent are two key values that Clyde uphold on a constant basis. Something that both customers and suppliers rightly expect, and naturally harvests a trusting and beneficial partnership.
A vigorous onboarding process exists for all suppliers which includes vetting, GAP analysis, encouragement for customer feedback. It is important for Clyde employees to experience the service of our own company travel to put ourselves in our customers shoes.
All are equally important to ensure we can offer our customers trusted suppliers that deliver hassle free, seamless experiences while on the road.
Working with suppliers is a two-way collaboration by mutually understanding and contributing to strategic objectives which is key to a successful partnership. This is the important groundwork needed so that Clyde is able to offer our customers best in class supplier experiences, access to leading content and pricing while being able to effectively manage any aftercare requirements.
This is something that our customers recognise as an important benefit of managed travel where Clyde take ownership of any supplier queries or complaints and utilise our established contact points to bring any issue to a quick and amicable resolution.
Building relationships in the supply chain
Mutual respect is a key principle to a successful partnership. Working closely with our suppliers to understand what they look to gain from the relationship while ensuring there is a clear understanding of the opportunities and expectation so both our strategies are aligned and working in tandem.
The relationship however it not limited to a select few within Clyde, we encourage engagement throughout the business, so their message is wide reaching to all our international locations. When suppliers wish to engage and educate, we never restrict access to our people.
This is openly encouraged as we see this as important development opportunities for our people to allow them to further upskill and be armed with the most up to date knowledge and experience so they can share, as travel professionals, with our customers.
Just as our pledge to our customers, when working with suppliers, we create an ethos that Clyde is “open for business” with a high value placed on the supply chain.
That being said, I believe you should never leave it to assumption of the work and time investing in promoting a supplier with the business. I remember a common phrase repeatedly coined back in my education days was to ‘show your working out’.
Communication and transparency are key factors of a strong mutual partnership, building trust can be achieved by presenting to the supplier the evidence and effort Clyde has invested in to support their brand and values throughout the business. So still to this day, ‘show your working out’ remains a key attribute when working with the supply chain.
The benefits of investing time and resources into building relationships
I am a true believer in the benefits of investing time into building relationships within the supply chain.
Time and time again the results are clear to see across a number of performance indicators whether it is to ensure Clyde has access to the best content so customers’ can take advantage of market leading fares, being able to use the latest technical solutions from our technical suppliers to increase efficiency, or understanding and sharing with customers new value-added experiences that suppliers introduce.
Maintaining a close and fruitful relationship with our key suppliers allows Clyde to be fully informed of any enhancements, added benefits or incentives that we can share with our customers.
A perfect example of Clyde benefiting from a well-established partnership was the willingness of Lufthansa Group to engage in a long-term project with Clyde to develop a direct connection to their New Distribution Capability (NDC) content.
At a time where NDC was revolutionizing how airlines distribute content and with many likeminded global players within the travel management sector seeking to be a step ahead of the movement to modern retailing.
For Lufthansa Group to appoint Clyde to work toward creating this direct connection is a testament to existing foundations of a strong and progressive partnership. A significant investment that now allows Clyde direct access to the widest variety of Lufthansa Group fares and trip extras in a way that allows us to personalize our offers to suit our customers’ needs, as well as servicing the ticket in a more efficient way.
Supplier relations are essential in creating a successful travel experience.
Travel management is an integral cog of the travel eco system and the reliance on the supply chain is pivotal to provide customers with a fully rounded and successful experience from door to door plus the all-important aftercare.
Doing this right will continue to create further opportunities to not only meet but exceed the growing expectations of our customers. Something that can only be achieved with mutual goals and collaborative partnership throughout the supply chain.