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Is it up to Procurement to understand Travel, or is it Travel’s job to understand Procurement?

As cost-savings have become increasingly important over the past few years, corporate travel has started shifting under the procurement wings in many companies.

TMCs have found themselves working hand-in-hand with the company’s procurement departments on core functions for managing travel. This has often led to frustration, with TMCs saying Procurement often tries to lump travel in with other commodities, even if ‘you can’t buy travel like you can office supplies’.

TMCs and suppliers claim that procurement-focused clients ‘just don’t get the unique challenges of travel’. But, is it really Procurement’s job to understand travel? If Procurement is our client, is it not up to us to understand THEM as a vertical industry?

Let’s illustrate this with an example. If I buy a car, and I know nothing about cars, I expect the salesman to try and understand me and my needs. He will need to understand how to sell to me in a way that I will understand and see the value of the car he’s trying to sell me.  It’s not my job to get to know everything there is to know about cars and then go and buy one.

Of course, it is easier to deal with clients that ‘get it’ and have a proper understanding of travel. However, if they don’t, the TMC will need to find a way to speak to them in their language.

Too often in our industry, we see people selling to a traveller the same way they sell to a travel manager and the same way they sell to Procurement. This will need to change. Each of these sectors are interested in very different things and TMCs should tailor-make their offering to each.

TMCs need to learn to understand Procurement better. Does Procurement just want to cut costs? No. Procurement wants cost EFFICIENCY, not necessarily cost savings.

So, the key for TMCs is to sell to Procurement in a way that makes them understand the value in procurement terms. Explain to them how your services will make their programme more cost-efficient, and your sales team is sure to succeed.