The MacNair Travel Leadership Blog

Insights into the Job of the Travel Manager

Posted by Mike MacNair on Jan 20, 2015 11:16:00 AM

Travel_manager_insightsI am often asked by executives what Travel Managers do as they have never seen one. The study, “A Day in The Life: The Role of Travel Managers,” sponsored by Sabre Travel Network, surveyed more than 700 North American and European Travel Managers and looked at the role of the Travel Manager, the value these managers bring to their organizations and a potential evolution in their role in the near future. I felt this data was useful in explaining what someone in charge of these sizeable line items does and how some of these objectives could be built into the job description of someone who does this full or part time. This data can also be useful in setting goals for someone in this role.

When asked about their current responsibilities, the study showed Travel Managers are pulled in many different directions.  The vast majority of Travel Managers cited procurement-related activities (e.g., evaluating and negotiating with preferred travel service providers and obtaining and managing contracts with their providers) among their daily tasks. Travel Managers also are frequently responsible for activities related to managing internal and external stakeholder relationships, developing and monitoring programs and policies, as well as other areas such as evaluating technology solutions and applying business analytics.

 “As it’s done in so many industries already, technology will transform the role of the Travel Manager over the next few years,” said GBTA Vice President of Research Joseph Bates. “Thanks to the automation of so many processes, Travel Managers will be able to expand their role and further demonstrate their value.”  

“New software and services are rapidly changing the way companies manage all procurement categories, and travel is no exception,” said Greg Webb, President of Sabre Travel Network. “Strategically-minded travel managers are achieving superior results by using more sophisticated technology and hiring more tech-savvy team members. We see this shift in the research and among our clients.”    

Additional key highlights of the report’s findings: 

Travel policy compliance represents the biggest challenge for Travel Managers, both in ensuring that the travelers follow company policy as well as obtaining senior leadership buy-in for new policies. Additional common problems include keeping costs down, managing globalization, using data to direct decision-making, and keeping up with technology advancements available for travel. In addition to technology, Travel Managers also expect to see an increased reliance on data and analytics to make decisions, further globalization of travel programs and an increased focus on safety and security in the next three to five years. While the majority of Travel Managers are currently being asked to calculate company savings from having a managed travel program, quantifying it has proven difficult. Quantifying company savings, both financial and non-financial, stands to further showcase the value Travel Managers bring to their organizations.