The Defense Transportation Journal talked to BCD Travel leader Tracy Maier about the travel management company’s enhanced government service division and the greater government travel space. Maier, senior vice president, North America, shared insights on how the TMC is working to help the Department of Defense and civilian agencies manage their travel programs in pace with evolution taking place in the government sector.
“The government is undergoing a great deal of modernization,” said Maier, who oversees BCD’s government sector, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, other government agencies, and aerospace and defense firms. “Civilian agencies started about five years ago and the Department of Defense is starting now. In each case, there is appetite to align with best practices.”
Choosing the right TMC for government travel
Each government agency has its own challenges, from confidentiality requirements to rush deployments and surge travel, noted Maier. And they need a TMC that is responsive to meet those challenges. They can’t afford to be locked into the status quo.
The first step for civil and federal agencies looking to enhance their travel program is to choose wisely. “Look for processes and partners that make your agency’s travel and travel management easier and equip you to prove your agency is making the most of taxpayer dollars and fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility to the public,” Maier said.
She told DTJ that government agencies should find the partner that takes care of today’s needs and looks to the future. For example, “Duty of care is a big focus for government and corporate organizations alike,” said Maier. “We’ve been helping corporate clients increase their duty of care effectiveness and bring this same experience to government agencies.”
“Successful TMCs aren’t one-size-fits-all; they need to be willing to customize to make clients’ jobs easier. Quite simply, that’s what we aim to do every day.”
Combat and service enablers
Maier said she sees the federal government aligning with industry best practices to adopt what’s working and adapt it for government travel. “There’s an international recognition of the complexity and significance of official travel – that all who touch the travel program, regardless of role, are combat enablers for the DOD and service enablers for the civilian side. The recent reduction of the travel policy from hundreds of pages to a guide that can be read in about 15 minutes is evidence of that,” she said.
Maier said BCD is investing in government travel-specific training programs like GSA City Pair, Fly America Act, Fed Rooms and others. Travel managers and agents are versed in rush deployments and surge travel for disaster response and are available around the clock. The TMC is also expanding roles and investments in IT and account management to anticipate and meet federal and civilian client needs.
The role of technology in official travel
BCD-owned TripSource® is a web- and app-accessible tool that travelers can use to get trip details, book hotels, share itineraries, see flight notifications and respond to crisis alerts. Their proprietary DecisionSource® reporting tool gives travel managers the insights they need to better manage programs and provide duty of care.
BCD uses technology and tech partners to help travel and security teams locate government travelers quickly and precisely in crisis situations, with capabilities to send risk alerts, communicate about their wellbeing and offer emergency assistance.
The company also integrates payment and expense management solutions into government services, working to take the pain out of expense reports for busy travelers.
Get government officials involved in the travel program
Traveler engagement practices educate travelers about their managed travel program and smooth the path to travel program success. “You can foster traveler engagement by ensuring travelers know the value they bring to their role. For the government, ensuring travelers know the value they bring to our country through travel is essential,” said Maier. “We can help agencies find ways to enhance their communication so travelers know how they contribute to the greater good.
“The outlook is exciting for government travel and we’re committed to helping agencies realize their future potential. We believe that change and choice can lead to very good results for the government, its agencies and travelers.”
Read the full article in the Department of Transportation Journal, a publication of The National Defense Transportation Association.