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What makes a good Travel Management Programme RFP?

By Emma Slocombe, Preferred Programme Manager

RFP tips and advice - expert smart person

Put simply, a travel management programme RFP is a specification of requirements and includes laying out the profile of an organisation and its travel, meetings, and events volumes (often with key suppliers, key routes, and demand locations). Travel management programmes come in all shapes and sizes. But what makes us different, is how we manage them from start to finish on behalf of our customers.

For us, communication with the customer and attention to detail is paramount. The very first stage in building an RFP is to go into detail about a customer’s business profile and analyse their booking patterns, taking the current climate, demand profile and changes to pre-covid booking patterns into account. Working closely with customers on the detail is vital, we look at these key areas:

  • Compliance with the programme.

  • Booking lead time.

  • The average length of stay.

  • Rate cap compliance.

  • Online compliance.

What we’re aiming for.

The next stage in the process is to set some customer-specific objectives to ensure we are covering their key requirements, for example:

  • To ensure rates remain in line with Customer Policy.

  • To manage the Available Room Rate (ARR) in key locations by consolidating and driving volumes into the best value properties or best value programmes (for example, our Accommodation First programme.

  • To improve the online visibility of properties and to ensure the booking process is as straightforward as possible.

  • Rates to be submitted inclusive of breakfast, VAT and commission on a double/twin room for single occupancy room type basis.

  • WIFI to be offered on a complimentary basis. Car parking and tray charges to be offered on a complimentary or discounted basis.

  • There must be no charge for early check-out.

  • There must be no penalty for amendments – stay duration can be reduced on the original rate booked.

  • All agreed rates must be made available to all divisions, subsidiaries, and affiliates of the Agreed transient rates are to be made available for Group bookings of up to 20 rooms. Any allocation agreed with the property will stand over and above any group bookings.

Building an RFP.

We approach building an RFP from two angles: our own leverage as a TMC and customer volume.

Before the RFP is released to suppliers, the invitation to tender gets shared with the customer for final sign-off before the RFP gets released to the market. The ITT not only outlines the locations/hotels invited but also a customer profile that outlines key information around the travel policy, how it's enforced and how it is performing as well as an overview of the customers booking profile – all to ensure that our partners are as informed as possible to make the best rate submission.

All submissions received are used as a benchmark as we move into the next stage of the process - negotiation. We consider the following elements to make sure submissions are competitive:

  • Market trends.

  • Year on Year variances (PwC forecasting).

  • Customer policy.

  • Location-specific demand.

  • We negotiate to get the right rate to secure availability (Last Room Availability (LRA)* and/or allocation).

  • Rates submitted vs Average rate achieved.

*Jargon buster: LRA means that even if a hotel only has one room available, then customers with an LRA contract can purchase that room at their contracted rates and terms. Often, the later you book, the higher the rate you pay. The upside of LRA is that it means customers don’t need to pay over-the-odds room rates when booking last minute. The downside is that LRA can come at a premium.

Ready for launch.

Once we’re satisfied the programme is in good shape, we complete acceptances and launch. As well as the bespoke RFP programme creation, our Accommodation First programme runs in tandem to supplement a customer’s programme and always ensure the best value.