What does a travel manager do?
The travel manager, or travel manager, is an important professional in companies that carry out corporate trips frequently.
He is a strategic figure and accounts for one of the biggest costs of large corporations. The travel account is known to be the second or third largest corporate expense, after payroll, in the largest companies in the world.
Faced with so much responsibility, the role of the travel manager permeates several activities and strategic actions for the business. Some of its responsibilities are:
- maintain and seek out new (and new) travel and mobility providers
- large-scale monitoring of airline ticket reservations and issuance;
- large-scale monitoring of reservations in accommodation facilities;
- provide urban mobility services for employees;
- bring improvements to the corporate traveler experience (from travel planning to the accountability phase);
- centralize and organize all information related to the topic (policies, rules, procedures);
- continuously analyze data for more efficient management.
Furthermore, he is also in charge of optimizing the values related to these services so that the organization can have the lowest possible travel costs, but without losing efficiency, quality, and — above all — safety.
What are the characteristics of a travel manager?
For you to know the profile of a good travel manager, we invited one of the figures who best understand the subject for an interview. Sivaram is a business consultant and shares years of experience with travel and mobility management in the largest companies in India.
He has been in charge of travel management at various MNCs, where he has accumulated a vanguard view on how organizations can manage their travel programs in an intelligent, economical, and humane way.
After a very inspiring and enlightening chat, here are its main aspects:
The travel manager needs to act as a point of support
In a company with hundreds or thousands of people who need to travel to carry out their activities, the existence of a very heterogeneous profile of this traveler is inevitable. In large corporations, it is common for professionals to have a greater predisposition to digital and mobile experiences, in the same way, that it is also common for those who will still get on a plane for the first time in their lives.
Him, from this perspective, the travel manager needs to act as a point of support in all matters about mobility. Clarify doubts and mediate relations between the company (and its traveling teams) and airlines, hotels, car rental companies, means of payment (a very relevant subject nowadays with digital transformation), online travel management platforms (the OTTs) expense management systems, etc.
“In addition, this professional also needs to be a point of support for traveler safety issues. It is a function that gains prominence and relevance, as it is strategic”, comments Sivaram.
Get to know the profile of employees (and their travels) well
As we said, the profile of the corporate traveler varies greatly according to each company and its needs. After all, some tend to work only with local or interstate travel, while others operate with international travel as well.
The manager’s role is not simple. He must constantly ask himself “what are my employee’s needs?”. The answer to this question can make up for the types of trips and displacements that your company demands from its travelers.
Usually, more complex itineraries — such as international trips or sections to very remote regions — shape a traveler’s profile more in need of solutions that facilitate this journey.
Therefore, in understanding what this travel journey is, the travel manager must pay attention to the fact that all means of transport must be categorized and managed (in some cases, even provided by the company directly) – from the electric scooter to the airfare.
On this, Sivaram shares that “aviation is no longer the only point of attention for a manager; It’s been a few years since it’s gone much further. Mobility is present at all hierarchical levels in the company. It is important to have a strategy for each level.”
Thus, by knowing well the specific profile of employees who travel through the company, the manager will be able to serve them properly.
Knowledge of electronic processes
The travel manager also needs to know how to operate the programs used to manage travel. Each function — ticketing, hotel booking, financial control, etc. — can be performed by a different type of software that the professional needs to know well, although there are solutions on the market in the form of mobile apps such as ProRido that integrate all the functionalities in one place.
Know how to interpret numbers and data
Imagine the following situation: your company works with two providers of transportation apps so that your employees can get around while working. However, the number referring to these expenses starts to get higher.
When looking at the history, it is noticed that the tariff of one of the providers has increased, which made trips on the same route more expensive when compared to the other app. This type of analysis and interpretation of numbers is part of the travel manager’s routine.
Sivaram argues that “to manage” is synonymous with planning. Redesigning and redefining new steps must be actions taken looking at mistakes and successes of the past, always looking at new technologies and opportunities to bring innovation into the company and its process. Looking at reports and analyzing trends is part of a successful strategy.”
What characteristics should a travel manager have in 2022?
To be a good corporate travel manager, being up to date and studying the market is essential. Sivaram highlights three main characteristics involving soft and hard skills that, in 2022, are even more important.
Duty of Care: the breadth of what “care” means
The first point is: knowing how to take good care of people. It may not seem like much, but travel managers must breathe the Duty of Care. This does not mean “care” in the most subjective sense of the word, we have very practical examples of everyday life. A very clear example: how are your company’s mileage and food reimbursement values?
A tip that Sivaram gives is that if the value is far below the market average and is not keeping pace with the increase in price inflation, most likely the well-being of your corporate traveler is being harmed. A KM reimbursement amount lower than Rs 5.30 nowadays, for example, already means that your employee is paying out of pocket to travel for work. How do retain talent and keep them motivated if the cost of doing so is too high?
Taking good care of your employees is also providing dignity and comfort for carrying out their activities.
Analytical ability to look for opportunities
Generally, in everyday life, we use a good part of our mental faculties and our intelligence to solve problems. While this is, yes, very important, it is necessary to set aside time to seek, analyze and seize opportunities.
A simple example of this is: have you checked whether your company’s health plan offers travel insurance coverage for your employees within Brazil or in territories such as MERCOSUR? Many managers end up paying twice for a service they already have, without even knowing it.
Empower and educate your travelers
Being the focal point of corporate travel is the role of every travel manager. However, having employees who have learned to have the autonomy to solve low and medium-complexity problems can be very positive for the company (the concept of multipliers) as a whole. This avoids manager overload, policy deviations, and response time issues that can discourage those involved.
To reach this point, it is necessary to develop a work schedule with a lot of support for travelers and dedication to teaching, in addition to seeking travel tools that value autonomy and self-service.
When you find all the characteristics raised in this post in someone interested in becoming your company’s travel manager, the chances of success in this occupation will be great.
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