8 Questions to Ask When Searching for a Travel Management Partner for Your Nonprofit

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As an NGO or non-profit organization, you have special needs from your travel management partner. You want to be sure that you're choosing a partner who will be able to meet those needs, from fitting within your unique budget constraints to providing care for your employees and members while they're out on the road.

If you're looking for a travel management partner, or TMC for your nonprofit organization, make sure you're asking these key questions.

Question #1: Does your TMC have their own humanitarian contracts?

As a nonprofit organization, you're eligible for airfare rates and travel perks that most companies cannot access, however, there are only a handful of TMCs who have access to pre-negotiated contracts with airlines.

By partnering with a TMC with full-access, you could receive up to 40% off airfares and check more bags without any fees. These perks are especially useful when traveling to far locations. Flights to remote locations aren't cheap and having the ability to check extra bags without an added cost will allow your employees to take those long trips stress-free.

Question #2: Will your travel management company provide support for employees who are on the road?

You don't just want a partner that will book plane tickets and hotel reservations, then leave your employees to fend for themselves. As an NGO, you aren't passing out company credit cards that will allow employees to quickly take care of a missed plane or problem with the reservation.

You want a TMC that will provide support to your employees when things go wrong, leaving them with a better travel experience and greater peace of mind no matter where their responsibilities might take them.

What kind of response time does your travel management company have? A solid response time is just as important as the services they offer. Your service level agreement should help determine how long your travel management company has to respond to potential issues, from canceled flights to more serious emergencies.

Question #3 Does your TMC understand Fly America regulations for air travel?

You may have grants that require Fly America compliance and a TMC's understanding is even more critical. The Fly America Act states that anyone using government funds to travel must fly on an American owned airline. There are a couple exceptions to this rule but also great consequences if the act is not followed, so it essential that your TMC is knowledgeable about it.

Question #4 Does your TMC demonstrate an understanding of Duty of Care?

More importantly, your team members give their time, energy, and passions to your cause. In return, you want to provide them with the highest possible level of safety when they're out on the road. Making sure your employees are safe while traveling is more than a moral obligation, but legally required.

Partnering with a TMC who has an expertise in Duty of Care will help keep your organization and travelers out of trouble. From extreme weather conditions to terrorist attacks to other inappreciable disasters in regions your employees need to cross through, it's important to be able to notify employees, provide them with information about safe routes out, and take care of any last-minute arrangements that need to be changed as a result of a disaster.

Employees should also be able to quickly contact the travel management company when an emergency arises, no matter what time of day or night it might be.

Demonstrating a strong understanding of Duty of Care is an essential quality of a TMC. Negligence lawsuits are costly and are harmful to everyone involved. It's important to not only protect individual employees but also to protect the interests of your business.

Question #5: Does your travel management partner have experience traveling to remote locations?

In many cases, your employees go to areas that are off the beaten path. These destinations aren't typically chosen for leisure activities or by bigger companies who are sending their employees off on fancy, fabulous business trips.

You want a partner that has experience working in rural and remote locations and will provide the support your employees need when they're on the road. Ensure that your employees will have accurate information about their destination as well as how to handle any potential problems while they're there.

Question #6: Does your travel management partner understand the unique needs of NGOs?

You need a travel management partner that has experience working with organizations like yours. While any travel management company can get your employees from point A to point B, you want a TMC that will go beyond that—and understands the unique security needs, financial needs, and scheduling requirements of your organization.

Look for a partner that has successfully worked with other NGOs in the past. If possible, seek recommendations from trusted partners who have worked with your business in other areas. This simple step can go a long way toward smoothing out potential problems.

Ideally, a travel management company that has good contacts that will help acquire the contract fares you need—which in turn will make your plane tickets significantly cheaper than they would have been otherwise. Working with a TMC that has these connections can make your entire trip less expensive.

Question #7: Does your travel management company offer high-level reporting and visibility?

It's important that you have good visibility for reporting purposes. Especially if your organization is funded by grants, donors or fundraisers it's important to know how every dollar is spent and ensure that you're handling your travel responsibly. As a result, you need a travel management company that will provide that high-level visibility. This can also help drive costs down since you'll know exactly how every dollar is being spent and there's no chance of extra expenses sneaking in along the way.

Reporting can also help offer critical information to your travel management company. Through those reports, they can find gaps in your travel plans where you could be saving. What's preventing you from keeping your travel costs down? Are you missing out on opportunities to save?

A look through your reports will give your travel management company access to that critical information so that they can serve you more effectively and make changes to improve spending the following year.

Question #8: Will your travel management partner work with your existing policies?

When you choose a travel management company, you want to be sure that you're getting a company that will integrate well with your existing team—including working with your existing travel management policies. You don't want just a provider who will force you to adhere to their standards and rules. Rather, you want them to work with your requirements. Whether that means a religious organization that won't force employees to travel on Sunday, organizations that require special dietary arrangements for flying travelers, or strict budget restrictions that shape how your employees are able to travel.

Look for a flexible partner that is willing to work with you to help you continue to meet your goals, rather than forcing you to do things their way.

Choosing a travel management company is a big step for your NGO. As a result, you want to make sure that you get the key details right. By asking these questions before you partner with a company, you'll increase the odds that you'll find the right one for your organization.