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What does a corporate travel manager do?

Posted: 08 March 2021
 Corporate travel manager making travel arrangements

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 program. And make no mistake, they do much more than use a booking tool to reserve flights, make hotel reservations or book a car rental — 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 program is structured an integral part of the organization.

Travel managers oversee and administer corporate travel policies and are traditionally tasked with travel expense management, leading vendor and partner contracts, monitoring business travelers’ 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 your travel program and policies meet the needs of your business and travelers.

Download the toolkit to redesign your travel program

Defining and implementing an effective business travel program is no easy task. Business requirements can change quickly, and the travel program must adapt just as fast. The business travel environment can shift unexpectedly, and the travel manager must proactively put travel policies in place to speed the corporate response and work to ensure traveler safety. Effective business travel programs are built on a foundation of:

  • Clearly defined travel policies and procedures
  • Easy-to-use travel management tools and technologies
  • Traveler safety and risk management tools
  • Travel optimization programs

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 traveler wellbeing. 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.

Corporations may have preferred vendors for hotels and car rentals, for instance. 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 organization to manage costs, measure return on investment and help keep travelers safe. For instance, NASDAQ discovered the benefits of thinking through their travel policy and leading a change in policy and process that benefitted business travelers’ experiences and the bottom line.

Managing all 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 program. 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.

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 program 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% online adoption to more than 80% in the first month.

And you have to meet those traveler expectations while satisfying all the organization’s needs for travel program compliance. Today’s travel manager has to strike that balance — meeting business travelers’ 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 travelers 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.

Traveler safety and risk management

As a travel manager, you’re responsible for the health and wellbeing of your business travelers. This falls under the definition of duty of care as a legal principle. Companies are legally required to ensure 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 they are working with business travel tools that allow them to anticipate issues or contact and locate travelers in a time of emergency. In fact, eight out of 10 companies integrate security controls into their travel policy and many companies have prioritized duty of care as a key component of their travel program strategy.

Crisis management is a critical aspect for the travel manager. Taking care of travelers 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 travelers are and help them get to safety. When everyone books through the Egencia platform, you can access their location with Traveler Tracker.

Take the example at Informa PLC, an international exhibitions, events, intelligence, and publishing group based in the U.K. When news broke about an attack at London Bridge, their travel manager was able to use Traveler Tracker to quickly identify the location of all their travelers 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.

Optimizing your travel program

Travel managers add value to the organization with travel program optimization 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 analyze their programs to find cost savings. At NTT Singapore, they use our data tools to monitor travel spend, analyze travel by individuals or business groups and report back to executives with visual reports on any aspect of their travel program. 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 organizational culture and the bottom line. The travel manager guides the program to serve those goals.

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

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with us.