< PrevNext > In Conversation: Ground Transportation Partnerships in 2021 By Dawit Habtemariam / November 05, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share Moving into 2021, suppliers are courting corporate travel buyers with more favorable agreements. However, buyers need to vet suppliers continuously for long-term financial stability in order to ensure quality product and service for their travelers. Here’s what the industry is saying about recovery and how corporate agreements and pricing are shaping up for 2021. Look Who’s Talking...Sascha Meskendahl, Blacklane Chief Revenue Officer On Chauffeured Category Survival: The Covid-19 pandemic has weakened our industry just as it has across travel. Some companies ceased operations and others had painful layoffs. Some delayed payments to affiliates and some filed for bankruptcy protection. Travel managers need to understand if their chauffeur providers will endure the pandemic. That requires asking suppliers potentially uncomfortable questions about layoffs, affiliate payments and bankruptcy filings.On Sourcing Safe Solutions: Safety and security dominate the conversation with corporate travel managers. Corporates want to know how clean and sanitized each step of employees’ journeys will be. Therefore, many are delaying lengthy RFPs. Instead, their focus is immediate safe solutions for employees who have essential travel. In these cases, they’re accelerating the review process to select the best providers.On Rising Rates in 2021: Chauffeurs disinfect vehicles before and after each ride, and that time reduces the number of rides they can perform. This new normal of operations will likely increase fares industry-wide in 2021 for airport transfers, hourly service and other rides within a metropolitan area. While travel managers and travelers understand this, Blacklane is keeping fares as stable as possible by helping chauffeurs best utilize their capacities during the course of a day. Look Who’s Talking...Dave Kilduff, DK Consulting Group CEO On Ground Transportation Industry Pain: If the corporate world does not start traveling six months from now, I can’t tell you the financial shape of who’s going to be left. The more pain they feel, the more they have to cut, whether it’s getting rid of more fleet, cutting more employees, borrowing more money if they can, going out of business or going bankrupt. When the world [gets back to travel], it’s going to be an issue of who has employees, who has a fleet to service that business. Continuous vetting of suppliers is one of the most important things you can do going forward—who you are doing business with, who is financially stable or, at least, the most financially stable. On Going Beyond the RFP: One of the things happening in car rental is location closings, where some of the companies aren’t doing business in whole areas. One supplier may not have location and service where you need it. It’s now a more important time to do an RFP. The issue is you can’t stop at the RFP. You have to continue to vet.On Falling Rates in 2021: Car rental and chauffeur prices are going down. They are competitive and the suppliers want to talk to corporate travel buyers. Now is a good time to look at your ground transportation because when it picks up, you don’t want to be sitting there with suppliers that have issues. Look Who’s Talking...Don Moore, National Car Rental SVP Business Rental Sales and Global Corporate AccountsOn Travelers Hitting the Road: Customers are starting to travel again, and their trips are longer. Some customers have decided to wait out the pandemic and some have decided to wait for the restart of business to decide what to do. We’ve had many RFPs we’ve gone through. We’ve taken into account, like any time of the year, length of rental, where we are renting from, type of rental. On Changing Rental Patterns: A lot of our business has changed. It used to be the road warrior would pick up a vehicle on Monday morning and return sometime during the week, but their rental was Monday through Wednesday or Thursday, then we would use other types of business to supplement the weekend and so forth before the road warrior picks up again Monday morning. Because a lot of folks are renting in their home city market now, some of them are picking up vehicles and going somewhere for the weekend then somewhere for business. On Contracts: If corporate clients want to redo a contract, we encourage them to do it. That helps us plan for the future. If we know what type of customers and how many customers we are going to have in place, it gives us the ability to buy cars when we need them in whatever location we need them. Look Who’s Talking...Bill Amaral, State of California Business Partnership & Travel ManagerOn Making Do with Fewer Transportation Options: Trains and bus schedule reductions have impacted our ability to use those services. We are waiting for car rental operations to get back to normal—many locations have shut down due to lack of business. On 2021 Car Rental Rates: We’re locked into a contract right now, so I think our rates will remain stable even though our volume took a nosedive after shelter-in-place orders this year. On Travel Activity & Demand: We started to kick back into gear this year, only because of the California fires. We rely on our car rental provider for four-wheel drive vehicles and sport utility vehicles to assist and respond to the fires. We have service level agreements that they have to meet, and we are secure that our provider will continue to meet those. Some locations are temporarily shut down, but we have other options to pick up the vehicles or get them delivered.