In today’s business world, business travel is becoming increasingly common. It is therefore advantageous to place the organisation of business trips in expert hands. The management of business trips requires time and effort, because there is much more to it than buying airline tickets and booking overnight stays.
The biggest challenge for the travel manager is to provide employees with an appropriate level of comfort while complying with guidelines and budgets.
The role of the Business Travel Manager (BTM):
- Create rules for the organisation of corporate travel that include standards of accommodation and flight classes, as well as expense reporting and corporate credit card management.
- Monitor the Business Travel Guidelines. It is the responsibility of the BTM to ensure that they are respected by employees.
- Monitor all expenses and ensure that all travel is within budget. In general, BTMs must also produce regular reports so that everyone is informed of progress made or to be made and objectives to be achieved.
- Seek solutions for reducing travel costs, identify areas where savings can be made, and comply with quality standards and corporate policies.
- Select the travel agency that best meets the company’s needs and is able to respond to requests in terms of both quality and cost. Maintain relationships with this agency and other suppliers.
- Negotiate prices with hotels and review membership of airline loyalty programmes such as PartnerPlusBenefit.
In order to carry out all these activities, many different competencies are required that include negotiation, organisation, budget management and the ability to interact with the company’s various external and internal stakeholders.
In most cases, travel managers are qualified individuals, some with a degree in economics or a higher qualification. Sometimes business travel managers can also come from the company’s purchasing department because they have experience in concluding contracts with suppliers and in carrying out careful market analyses.
Travel managers manage all of the company’s travel-related data using specific software and programmes that automate the flow of information. Basic computer skills and the ability to learn quickly how to use new tools are therefore essential.
Keeping constantly up-to-date is essential to working in this profession: travel management must always understand the dynamics of the reference markets and engage with communications. This is the only way it can actually take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and decide how best to use the planned budget.
The role of travel management is also to analyse the ROI (return on investment) of the business trip and determine to what extent the investment has actually affected the company’s productivity and business. It must therefore understand traveller satisfaction, their motivation, the impact of the intensity of the trip on success and the results achieved. By analysing these aspects, it can verify the actual success of the trip and find out what needs to be improved or changed for the next one.
It should be emphasised that travel managers will also in the future probably have to deal with issues of integrated mobility, sustainability and environmental impact, issues that are becoming increasingly important, even in the area of business travel.