The role of the travel manager is being transformed

The role of travel managers is constantly evolving, as corporates move towards a more strategic approach to business travel.

 According to the IFTM 2017 report, 65% of travel managers are responsible for MICE management, an activity that was previously managed by marketing and communication departments, or sometimes Human Resources. This figure reflects the evolution and changing scope of the business travel manager role. In many companies, the terminology has already changed: “travel manager” has been replaced with “mobility manager”, reflecting the broadening range of tasks for which they are responsible. Fleet management is an increasingly common example of these new responsibilities.

IT transformation projects are now an opportunity to refocus on the travellers themselves and how enterprise mobility is managed, from jet lag and the search for travel information, to payment issues and tedious transaction processing. Fully understanding travellers’ needs, the technological requirements, and then selecting one of the many innovative digital solutions is a fundamental part of the travel manager’s role today. Taking CSR criteria into consideration is also an essential element of their daily tasks, particularly in the field of transport, where it’s a question of making the most environmentally friendly trade-offs.

The need to be a multi-skilled, excellent communicator, who is able to negotiate and cajole a group of often divergent employees to act in the same way, is more than ever part of the ideal travel manager’s profile. Selling the travel program to different departments, in different entities and defending its merits is becoming one of their primary responsibilities. For example, business travel is playing an increasingly important role in retaining talent and attracting new employees. It’s up to the travel manager to emphasise its advantages to HR managers, within the context of simplification and increased comfort of business travel.

Supporting digital innovations

In this changing environment, digital solutions are emerging that provide valuable support for travel managers and their new responsibilities. For example, Traveldoo will launch in 2019 a data visualisation tool designed to provide managers with a fresh perspective on travel data with a view to creating value. There’s a wealth of information in companies from various systems such as ERPs, CRMs, and other accounting solutions. This tool is designed to cross-reference all this data in order to reveal correlations between them. User friendly dashboards and graphs highlight the links between different areas of the business to drive added value, for example the discovery of potential areas for optimisation, areas in which it is possible to obtain better results, to know when it may be advisable to change the subscribed services or carry out renegotiations.

Sabre, a company specialising in digital solutions for business travel, published a report in 2017 indicating that by 2020, business travel will be characterised by a totally digital customer experience, with travel managers and TMCs orchestrating this new set-up.

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