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PROCUREMENT


“The definition of success when it comes to business travel procurement is not to obtain the cheapest price on a single item – such as a flight or hotel room – but to ensure that, without paying over the odds, the arrange- ments are comfortable and convenient enough for the travellers to be on top of their game when representing your business,” adds Pat McDonagh, Clarity’s chief executive. There are also suggestions that having a mandated, price-driven travel policy and programme can become a negative factor when trying to recruit, retain and attract talented employees.


With all these elements to consider, pro- curing travel for the non-specialist manager becomes a potential minefield, particularly when you consider how time-consuming the traditional RFP process can be for travel.


STREAMLINED TENDERING One area where strict procurement and com- pliance rules continue to apply is the public sector. But even here, the tendering process for travel services can be streamlined to make the decision-making more straightforward. Buying as part of a consortium can also be beneficial in terms of securing better deals than as an individual institution. A good example is the Southern Universi- ties Purchasing Consortium (SUPC), which gives universities and other higher education institutions access to a four-year Travel Management Services Agreement, offering them “a compliant route to market and a collaborative procurement channel” for an estimated £700 million of travel spending across the UK. Jayne Thorn, SUPC category manager, says:


“We create high-level framework agreements across travel and other procurement cat- egories. This takes away a big chunk of the administration from the institutions. “Our institutions have three ways to make awards: they can use the top ranked supplier;


buyingbusinesstravel.com


PRICE MAY BE KING IN MOST


PROCUREMENT CATEGORIES, BUT THE EQUATION IS LESS CLEAR-CUT FOR TRAVEL


they can adjust the importance of the crite- ria, so an institution may decide service is a more important factor and select the TMC that way; or they can hold a mini-competi- tion with the six approved suppliers. “Travel is complex and emotive because you are dealing with the end users of the services, so it’s best if you can get a service tailored to an institution’s needs.” One of SUPC’s leading advocates is Linda


Wardle, procurement manager at Lancaster University, who says the framework offers a “huge help with contract management”. “It’s less work for the institution as the tender phase is already done,” says Wardle. “The mini-competition is a shorter piece of work as we know the suppliers already specialise in providing travel in our sector. “It’s about knowing what your travellers want – the frustration can be that the end user will complain about a supplier but will not tell me, so I can’t do anything about it.” Price may be king in most procurement categories, but the equation is less clear-cut for travel. Finding a way to balance costs with higher levels of traveller satisfaction is sure to impress bosses. They may even forget how much they paid for office supplies.


UPDATE AND IMPROVE TRAVEL PROCUREMENT


n Set clear, realistic objectives and targets for your travel programme, that you can track, measure and improve with the help of travel suppliers. This way you will be able to provide evidence of success to senior management.


n Understand the organisation’s culture and how this is reflected through the travel programme.


n Establish good relationships and communicate regularly with your travel bookers and key travellers to get feedback on how well the programme and policy are working.


n Being able to drive tangible change in the travel programme can help to increase your standing within the organisation.


2019 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 99


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