As much as businesses and individuals try to plan ahead, we are all too aware that sometimes life throws us curveballs. And in a business travel program, where duty of care and travelers on the road require continued service, curveballs can cause serious disruption. Think bigger than bad weather. How would you weather the storm if your TMC unexpectedly or suddenly closed? If you found yourself in a situation like this, would you know what to do?
Fox World Travel recently launched Accelerated Implementations to support business travel programs in making a quick transition when the unexpected happens. We’ve interviewed Fox’s Project Management Office (PMO) Manager Chasity Schlimm, who leads our implementation strategy to talk about this new program and how planning for an essential pivot can protect your organization, and in some cases save your reputation.
Fox: Chasity, risk mitigation and policy have always been a big focus for travel managers. These are huge topics right now, and it also seems like the current travel industry shift has people feeling hypersensitive to change and the concept of unknown or uncontrollable situations.
Schlimm: Absolutely. As Mike Heck, Fox VP of Supplier Solutions, mentioned in the last interview, we are seeing unprecedented changes in the structure of the industry. That alone is unnerving, especially if the changes impact the service of the travel management company (TMC) that travel managers and organizations rely on. Every travel manager supports a unique scenario, which is why it’s important for TMCs to guide each of them to have the right tools for change management and communication planning depending on their needs and expertise.
Fox: What have you been seeing in the world of implementations? How has the changing travel industry affected your team’s role and responsibilities?
Schlimm: As the industry continues to shift almost daily, some clients do not have the luxury of time to conduct a travel RFP. To use the popular phrase, there is “new normal” for how implementations has to stay fluid for the needs of our clients. We had one client come to us because they needed to transition but had only four weeks to do so. We had another where their agency unexpectedly closed the doors, essentially overnight.
Fox: How does that fare against normal protocol for a TMC transition?
Schlimm: The standard implementation timeline Fox is renowned for is a fast-paced eight-week process that’s tightly managed. However, in an urgent state like we’ve seen companies in over the past several months, we have delivered basic service within 24 hours of their call. The methodology here is to tier the services needed to fit the client’s goals. Then, using systematic processes, automated tasks and leveraging our incredible technology teams, we can phase in additional services in over two, four or eight week project timelines.
Fox: From the travel manager’s perspective, what is the urgency in making that transition so quickly?
Schlimm: Once an organization starts booking without a TMC, they lose most if not all visibility to traveler data in any meaningful way that would allow them to control costs, apply discounts and, most importantly, apply any policy advocating for duty of care. You also in essence leave travelers stranded without the tools and resources they need to feel confident, make the right choices, and in some cases get home. It’s truly a risk, and especially during these times it’s a risk we know travel managers and organizations cannot take.
Fox: Those are some serious repercussions. So, anyone who’s been a part of the TMC selection and transition process knows it can be lengthy; how are you able to implement so quickly?
Schlimm: COVID-19 continues to push us to excellence, and when we knew we had the opportunity to serve a need, we went all in, following Fox’s mantra of “Find a Way.” Our phased Accelerated Implementations means a 24-hour commitment to service can be done with a no contract arrangement, providing an immediate booking solution.
Fox: Inspiring change takes a lot. How do you measure your success?
Schlimm: Our goal is to understand the project front to back so we can get it right the first time, on time, every time. I am thrilled to say Fox has a 100% on time delivery record in our implementations. We have never once had to move our launch date.
Fox: That is incredible! Results like that are not an accident. Chasity, if you had one thing to leave travel managers with today, what would that be?
Schlimm: Every travel program’s story is different. The true value for my team and our culture at Fox is that if a travel manager is left feeling like they have no choices, we will always “Find a Way” for them. Solving challenges and being an advocate in travel is our passion, so let us do that for you.
Fox understands many travel managers have more than just travel-related duties, so we hold your education, awareness and influence within your organization a top priority.
If you like Chasity’s ideas and are looking for more discussion around how to think ahead of the curve and mitigate risk, join Travel Talks, an industry information roundtable where we focus on travel managers’ questions and challenges.
With the rapid changes out there, don’t go it alone. Let us be your advocate. If you have any questions, get in touch with the Fox team today.
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