What does a corporate travel manager do?

Posted: 09 March 2021

A look at what makes up a travel manager’s job description

Travel managers play a critical role in ensuring the success of a corporate travel programme. And make no mistake, they do much more than use a booking tool to reserve flights, make hotel reservations or book a car hire — their job description is much broader. Their influence also goes far beyond business travel planning and reaches all the way to corporate leadership, making their role in informing how the corporate travel management programme is structured an integral part of the organisation.

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.

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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 expedite the corporate response and work to ensure traveller safety. 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 ensure traveller well-being. Consistency in policy definition and enforcement are key. Because business travel maps to business objectives, there are policies and controls in place that we don’t see when we book our leisure travel.

For instance, corporations may have preferred vendors for hotels and car hire. 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 their travel policy and leading a change in policy and process, which 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. Egencia has a unique advantage in that we’re able to draw on the extensive resources of Expedia Group to secure the best travel options for our customers.

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 their switch to Egencia propelled them from 11 percent online adoption to more than 80 percent 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 like 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 ensure that safety and security measures are addressed 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 to ensure that they are working with 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 controls 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.

Take the example at Informa PLC, an international exhibitions, events, intelligence and publishing group based in the UK. When news broke about an attack at London Bridge, their travel manager was able to use Traveller Tracker to quickly identify the location of all their travellers in the region and confirm that everyone was safe. This is just one more example of the type of travel services a corporate travel manager needs to oversee.

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 empowers travel managers to analyse their programmes to 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 that leverage while also providing an easy booking experience to meet the travel needs of employees.

Corporate travel managers lead the journey

Travel directly affects organisational culture and the bottom line. The travel manager guides the programme to serve those goals.

From policies and procedures to choosing the right TMC, corporate travel managers play a key role in building successful organisations

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