The transformation of the travel manager / buyer role

  • 50% of today’s jobs will not exist in 2025
  • 85% of the jobs in 2030 don’t even exist today

These are just two of the predictions made by Dell technologies and the Institute of the Future. But how do we see these predictions starting to evolve within the business travel industry.


From travel to purchasing departments

A recent study by GBTA and Cvent revealed that the role of the travel buyer is changing. A quarter of travel buyers interviewed, started their career in travel and have since seen their position move into another department, procurement being the main beneficiary. In addition to the growth of the travel buyer role to encompass a broader remit, including elements of procurement and in some cases HR or Finance, the role of the travel manager has also developed from a national to regional and now in most cases Global role. These significant shifts in where the travel manager sits in the organisation illustrates the transformation of the role from order taker to so much more.


A large scope of activities for the Travel manager

Today, travel managers see duty of care, the evaluation and implementation of technology, meetings management, expense management and risk management as part of their role. The changing shift in the workforce adds to the complexity, with the need to implement a programme fit for the millennial and z-generation, coupled with the sharing economy, adding further challenges, resulting in travel managers having to reengineer the travel programme and amend travel policies accordingly.


Travel & Expense sourcing trends

And as the job of a travel buyer moves towards a more procurement led-role there is a shift in the way that travel sourcing is managed. Listening to a TMC recently, they were commenting on the number of E-Auctions they were now invited to and how they are starting to no-bid for RFP’s when the client is not specific in their approach or has unrealistic delivery expectations, for example price or timelines.

E-Auctions are not a new phenomenon having been popular in the early 1990’s, but they are relatively new in the world of business travel as travel increasingly moves under the procurement function. E-Auction is a e-sourcing concept where competition is invited into the procurement process to drive down price and determine the winner. For straight forward procurements such as paper and office stationery, this concept makes sense, but what about complex travel & expense technology solutions? In business travel and mobility, there is so much more to consider than just cost. Selecting a supplier alone based on costs can be a recipe for disaster – service, reliability, quality, employee safety are just some of the other factors that need to be considered.


Whether your supplier is your hotel, expense management or technology provider the principles are the same and the trend towards constant sourcing is proving a more popular route.  A regular review of the customer-supplier relationship built on a partnership, with a true understanding of the objectives, mutual trust and close communication on a regular basis. More and more corporates are using this sourcing solution with occasional benchmarking, achieving some great results in terms of compliance, usage and cost savings.

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