A look at what makes up a travel manager’s job description
Travel managers play a critical role in the success of a corporate travel programme. But the scope of their job reaches far beyond reserving flights, making hotel reservations and booking car hires. Travel managers interact with many—if not all—of the stakeholders in a company to make sure that the corporate travel programme supports business objectives, aligns with company culture, helps retain talent by keeping travellers happy, and much, much more.
Travel managers oversee and administer corporate travel policies and are traditionally tasked with travel expense management, leading vendor and partner contracts, monitoring business travellers’ needs and identifying cost savings. Their work could also involve procurement, or working with external partners to get reimbursements for cancelled trips. It takes years of experience to master all of this. Working with a travel management company (TMC), travel managers make sure that your travel programme and policies meet the needs of your business and travellers.
Defining and implementing an effective business travel programme is no easy task. Business requirements can change quickly, and the travel programme must adapt just as fast. The business travel environment can shift unexpectedly, and the travel manager must proactively put travel policies in place to speed up the corporate response and safeguard against risk. Effective business travel programmes are built on a foundation of:
- Clearly defined travel policies and procedures
- Easy-to-use travel management tools and technologies
- Traveller safety and risk management tools
- Travel optimisation programmes
The travel manager works with various stakeholders to build and direct that foundation.
Defining travel policies and procedures
Clearly defined travel policies and procedures help rein in costs and promote traveller well-being. Consistency in policy definition and enforcement are key. Because business travel maps to business objectives, there are policies and rules in place that we don’t see when we book our leisure travel.
Corporations may have preferred vendors for hotels and car hires, for instance. Setting limits for travel, accommodation and per diems can be defined for specific regions and countries and take into account cultural differences in various parts of the world. Duty-of-care policies also take a front seat when it comes to determining your travel policy.
All of this allows an organisation to manage costs, measure return on investment and help keep travellers safe. For instance, NASDAQ discovered the benefits of thinking through its travel policy and leading a change in policy and process that benefitted business travellers’ experiences and the bottom line.
Managing all of these moving parts is the role of the travel manager. It’s also the reason that many companies work with a TMC like Egencia. Choosing the right TMC is critical to the success of your travel programme. You want a partner with the booking tools and technology that will make it easier for you to manage everything from making travel arrangements to refining the specifics of your travel policies. They should be a leader in the travel industry that’s able to help you negotiate the best rates and discounts for all of your business trips.
Using technology to create a better travel experience
The entire travel booking experience has been changed by technology. Your employees are consumers too, and they expect the same seamless, easy-to-use experience when it comes to business travel. The travel programme has to serve them the way they want to be served.
For some, that’s on the web. For others, they want to book a business trip with just a few taps on their phones. Some still want to be able to call someone who will take care of things for them. The booking tools you offer employees have to meet their expectations and requirements, as investment firm West Park Management Services discovered when its switch to Egencia propelled it from 11% online adoption to more than 80% in the first month.
And you have to meet those traveller expectations while satisfying all the organisation’s needs for travel programme compliance. Today’s travel manager has to strike that balance—meeting business travellers’ needs and those of the business.
Fortunately, technology is available to do that. Beyond the very visible apps and websites, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are making it easier for travellers to make the best choices that meet their preferences and stay compliant. Egencia customers are using AI every day, even if they don’t know it. Some of the latest travel technology is working in the background to improve experiences and compliance.
Traveller safety and risk management
As a travel manager, you’re responsible for the health and well-being of your business travellers. This falls under the definition of duty of care as a legal principle. Companies are legally required to have safety and security measures in place across all business functions, including travel.
When employees travel, the business is still responsible for them. Where are your employees? What is their situation? Do they need help?
Travel managers need business travel tools that allow them to anticipate issues or contact and locate travellers in a time of emergency. In fact, eight out of 10 companies integrate security factors into their travel policy and many companies have prioritised duty of care as a key component of their travel programme strategy.
Crisis management is a critical aspect for the travel manager. Taking care of travellers while they’re on the road is one of the key jobs of the travel manager. In an emergency, you need to know where your travellers are and help them get to safety. When everyone books through the Egencia platform, you can access their location with Traveller Tracker.
Optimising your travel programme
Travel managers add value to the organisation with travel programme optimisation through savings, reporting, duty of care, and change and expense management. They are expected to advocate for the advantages that business travel creates. This requires understanding the business well enough to show the value of travel on competitive advantage, revenue and employee retention.
Egencia offers a powerful online platform so that travel managers have the tools to perform the analysis to find cost savings and demonstrate ROI. Egencia Analytics Studio gives travel managers visual dashboards with robust drill-down capabilities to analyse their programmes and find cost savings. At NTT Singapore, they use our data tools to monitor travel spend, analyse travel by individuals or business groups, and report back to executives with visual reports on any aspect of their travel programme. The company gains actionable insights from their travellers' data, and their travellers get to enjoy an easy booking experience that meets their needs.
Corporate travel managers lead the journey
Travel directly affects organisational culture and the bottom line. The travel manager guides the programme to serve those aims.
From policies and procedures to choosing the right TMC, corporate travel managers play a key role in building successful organisations.