There was a time when managing the ground transportation part of a travel program was a relatively uncomplicated affair, with a limited number of choices and fairly cut-and-dried negotiations.
Consider the Options
Agreements with rental car companies have changed over the last couple of years. As a travel manager, I think it’s important to provide travelers with a safe and cost-effective option for all their needs. I feel having a rental car agreement is still necessary for my travelers as they visit clients, sites and events. Rideshare does make arriving in a cities easier, can save in parking and travelers are able to multitask during the ride. Bottom line for myself, it’s important to provide options for my travelers as well as for my company.– Gloria GonzalezCover More Ground
Ground transportation has gone through a massive transformation in the past decade and I don’t anticipate the pace of change slowing. Most companies have already addressed ride sourcing applications in their policies and have already captured the savings from partnering with those companies. Many buyers need to have a diversified field of ground transportation options, incorporating traditional chauffeured services, ride sourcing and car rental.
Contracts with car rental will continue to cover the main needs: pricing, insurance and central billing. But I anticipate an uptick in age waivers as the age range of our work force increases, from employees starting to travel for work sooner and people working longer. Ride sourcing is becoming more widely available. I’ve always seen it as a cleaner alternative to taxis (especially on the expense side – remember when you’d get a blank card from a cab to fill the amounts?).
Providers are building better tools for companies to manage their riders, with deeper connections to varied expensing solutions rather than just the biggest, so these rides can be auto-expensed. Finally, as great as the options are with ride sourcing, there will always be a need for companies to partner with traditional chauffeured car services. VIPs, scheduled services, and high quality bussing for company meetings and events will require partnership with companies who can provide these high touch services.– Rosemary E. MaloneyMeeting My Ride
Ridesharing has a significant impact on my program in the area of meetings. In most cases, we have shifted airport transfers to our rideshare partner. We still schedule “car groups” in the same way as shuttles or rentals, so administratively nothing has changed. It has given the conference attendee more freedom when arrival times change. Additionally, we have eliminated rental cars in downtown conference facilities and provide all attendees with prepaid codes for free time.
This approach is saving us not only on rental costs but also in parking fees for cars that sit unused during the day. Feedback from our travelers, in the beginning, was mixed; today, there are no issues, and it has boosted our usage in the transient program. The one concern most have is safety (given the news reports), and I feel this needs to be a focus, not just today but the subject of continuous improvement.– Cheryl BenjaminThings Can Get Complicated
Historically ground transportation used to be a quick win in the managed travel program. Car rental RFP and, boom, done! But with the huge impact of ridesharing, increase use in black car services, integration of meetings and events falling under the travel umbrella, the category has become more complex and more strategic.
We certainly spend more time assessing the risks that are associated with ground transportation. Legal is more involved than ever. All these changes and influences force buyers to step back and do more analysis of their ground transportation spend and how to best serve their travelers. Ridesharing has certainly forced the buyer to take a fresh look at how they are managing this category and it has become more multifaceted than ever.– Jennifer SteinkeMonumental Changes
Ground transportation always seems to be the poor stepchild of travel. It’s the last to be addressed after airlines and hotels. Despite the lower spend numbers, I seem to get more complaints about this sector of travel than any other.
Car rentals have always been fairly straightforward. You negotiate an agreement with rates that include insurance and make sure you drive your travelers to that supplier. You don’t allow other suppliers to even be an option in your online booking tool or with your TMC travel counselors. If the service is not stellar or there are billing problems, you usually hear about it.
Executive car service is a touchy subject. At NetApp it’s usually only vice presidents and above who use these services. Their admins book the cars with the TMC or directly with the supplier. The executive admins hold a great deal of power in this arena. If they don’t like the supplier you choose, you better have a reason why.
The most change has occurred in the area of taxis and now rideshare companies. About 80 percent of our point-to-point car services are from rideshare companies. That shift has been a monumental change from only a few years ago. It’s so easy to get service with a smart phone app that everyone uses them. Taxi services missed the boat when these services appeared and they didn’t respond quickly enough to stem the loss of business to rideshares.
– Mark Ziegler