Business development and client relationships within the legal sector can be greatly enhanced with in-person meetings.
While business travel has returned – with a GBTA survey showing an optimistic rebound in 2023 – there are still likely to be obstacles ahead in the travel industry that legal firms need to navigate. Continued economic challenges, strike action and the post-COVID environment could lead to airlines cancelling flights, reducing schedules or changing ticketed departure times.
These changes can impact a law firms’ profitability and productivity. Yet partnering with a travel management company that has specialist knowledge of how the legal sector works can help limit these negative effects, providing a proactive, personalised and dedicated service to ensure the most seamless travel experience as possible. Here’s what law firms should expect from their TMCs.
COST-SAVINGS & EXPENSE MANAGEMENT
Your TMC should be able to streamline processes and leverage data to optimise cost savings through:
- Hotel negotiations – Negotiate rates, rate checker, upgrades, hotel RFP consultancy.
- Airline content – lowest fare guarantee, fare checker, global fare inventory, low-cost carriers, route deal negotiation and optimisation, access to New Distribution Capability (NDC) fares to increase inventory and the possibilities to save.
- Programme efficiency – matter code validation (which can increase process efficiencies and accuracy for billable travel by reducing cycle time, reduce administrative costs and expedite payment for billable travel), expense integration policy benchmarking and compliance management.
- Strategic account management – this should include a communication plan, business plan (three-year vision), service level agreement, supplier programmes, consultative, consistent data and reporting, insights and actions from the reporting, booker and end-user experience plus business reviews.
A global TMC should provide firms with modern, flexible technology that enhances service without replacing it:
- Travel technology that’s been developed to enhance and personalise traveller experience and includes matter code validation.
- Global travel management portals where you can book, review, manage profiles, access invoices and reporting all in one place.
- Online and mobile booking for associates with built-in policy and approval automation.
- Technology that provides proactive business insight via comprehensive reporting tools, as well as a sustainability toolkit to drive carbon reduction.
TIME-SAVINGS & SUPPORT SYSTEMS
- Time is money for law firms. So it’s essential there is process optimisation. TMCs should ensure law firms have access to robust choices and inventory to ensure the most optimal trip to align with their busy schedules.
- A customised travel programme increases a firm’s efficiencies and is understanding of the time pressures on both lawyers and Executive Assistants (EAs) who often arrange the travel schedules.
- A dedicated team to assist you personally – rather than contacting a call centre – increases efficiencies and reduces unnecessary stresses. The TMC team acts as a support system for the travel organiser.
Duty of care
- TMCs must help firms protect their employees travelling on their behalf, keep them safe, be able to locate them effectively and have a strategy to proactively assist them in case of an emergency in different environments.
- To proactively protect travellers, ask if your TMC provides a 24-hour risk management platform. Determine whether you’ll receive real-time updates related to travel disruptions; a rapid response unit; and proactive re-accommodations before your lawyers are disrupted.
Business travel is not ‘one size fits all’. Each law firm is unique and needs solutions tailored to its travel programme, plus a dedicated and personalised service. For this, the TMC must have an in-depth knowledge of the legal sector. At Reed & Mackay, we have specially trained consultants through our own Legal Travel Training Programme.