Unboxing the GBTA Air RFP Template

NH_8823_RTBy Neil Hammond, Partner

In Denver at the 2016 GBTA Convention, the airline panel unveiled a new template for corporate airline requests for proposals (RFPs). You may be forgiven for thinking that this is long overdue, as the GBTA hotel RFP template has successfully become the industry standard for many years. It should be understood, however, that the dynamics of air RFPs and those for hotel are vastly different. The hotel RFP process is highly resource-driven, whilst the airline RFP process requires for more data and complex analysis to be performed.  With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the new air RFP template and how best to use it in 2017 and beyond.

Directly from the GBTA website, you can download the zip file and extract the five documents within, including:

  1. “How To” Instructions
  2. Guidelines
  3. Carrier Data Pack
  4. Project Plan and Timeline
  5. Proposal Template

“How To” Instructions
The “How To” provides some great advice for embarking on the Airline RFP process and using the other items in the kit.

The guidelines are really an RFP document sample that you can send to your bidders. The only comment I have with this is that it is a 5,000 word, 22-page document. There are some elements included here that I would caution on using. My own view is that you should not issue a timeline that extends beyond the first proposal submission. Don’t commit yourself to specific number of rounds, nor set advance deadlines that could end up working against you. I would also caution against becoming overly specific on the evaluation criteria. Throughout the process there will be much that your analysis will reveal that, along with the involvement of stakeholders, could change these criteria. Leave yourself some flexibility at the start.

Carrier Data Pack
The carrier data pack is a useful template that you will need to use for carriers that do not subscribe to PRISM. Make sure your travel management company (TMC) can provide data in the required format. It appears simple, but for some reason the True Origin & Destination breakout, along with predominant carrier and booking class, can provide its challenges, and not just for non U.S. agencies.

Project Plan and Timeline
The Project Plan and Timeline assemble much of the previous points in the guidelines and instructions into a logical sequence to run an air sourcing project. The preparation tasks prior to RFP release and the actions following contract award are of particular value.

Proposal Template
The proposal template is really the key component of this kit. It is a wide-ranging workbook with nine tabs, most of which address the challenge of formalizing airline data into a universal, structured format that the industry desperately needs.

At GoldSpring, we have already had a chance to test drive the template on a sourcing project in 2016, and we are pleased to report that it made the round 1 data process much easier. There are two caveats to keep in mind, however:

  1. Remember that a sourcing project still requires processing of the current contracts into a similar format. During the analysis phase of our clients’ airline sourcing projects, current contracts are standardized and evaluated using our SpringBoard Airline Manager tool.
  2. Within the proposal template there is also a sheet that addresses the value add components. While helpful, I think that there is still significant work that can be done to formalize, normalize and quantify these increasingly important aspects of the evaluation.

Overall, the GBTA kit contains some great goodies and we would encourage every buyer to take a look and embrace the information available online. The chances that the all-important template, or some close approximation, becomes an industry standard will be significantly enhanced when a player like PRISM adopts this as a standard reporting output that the airlines can use. I hope that I am not too optimistic that this will happen in 2017.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of GoldSpring Insights, the official email newsletter of GoldSpring Consulting. To sign up for our mailing list, please click here.

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