The role of the Travel Manager (also in the more enlarged version of Travel & Mobility Manager) is often overlooked and not yet fully understood.
Even in larger organisations, which have already started managing their Business Travel in a structured way, the Travel Manager responsibilities, the challenges she faces, her objectives and goals, and above all what are the benefits of having a Travel Manager rest sometimes in the realm of speculation.
Because responsibilities with other departments or functions frequently overlap, this derives in very difficult relations and in long, unclear processes. Communication over the travel programme is not always clear and comprehensive, which might lead to misunderstandings with the Traveller causing programme leakage and raising the level of stress of the organisation (I can find better rates!)
The traveller is more and more “savvy” since as a consumer she’s used to buy travel services on-line and she’s willing to play outside the policy in favour of her personal satisfaction, unaware of the deep implications, even for her own safety, of this behaviour.
Meanwhile the Travel Manager is there trying to mediate all interests, and get the best for the company. The role of Travel Manager is key in any organisation wanting to successfully manage their Travel Programme.
Despite that, in some situations, she struggles to be heard by the Top Management and to have her role recognised.
The advantages of having a Travel Manager and the issues an organisation might face when not having one are not always fully appreciated.
So, I hope to make some clarity around who is the Travel Manager, what are the key activities that she performs resulting in an efficient and effective Travel Programme and happy Travellers.
In the next weeks, I’ll cover five different aspects of the role of the Travel Manager.
Let’s start then with the first aspect: Who!
The Travel Manager is the key person at the base of any good Travel Programme. She’s the one acting as a catalyst of the programme ensuring it has all the right components in place and that those components work seamlessly.
The Travel Manager operates (or should operate!) with the strong belief that the travel programme exists to support the growth and development of the business, while keeping employees/travellers engaged and satisfied, and costs under control.
As such, the Travel Manager will be responsible for setting up and managing the travel programme.
- selecting the suppliers who will provide the travel programme with the services it requires (TMCs, Hotels, Airlines, Safety providers. Payment tools etc.);
- engaging with the Stakeholders to ensure that their needs and issues are taken into consideration and brought up at the decision-making tables.
- championing the Travellers’ needs and in particular she will put herself at the service of “The Voice of the Traveller”Óaiming at designing a Travel Programme around the needs of the Travellers to deliver the best possible Travellers’ Experience. A Traveller’s centric Program will have as a result happy travellers and happy travellers will make very happy employee.
- setting up the appropriate technology to support the Travel Programme to ensure efficiency and prevent drop of productivity, waste of time, and loss of resources in the deep folds of the organization.
- pivoting for the governance of the travel programme. Governance is a wide term encompassing all tools and activities ensuring the desired level of control over the programme. In detail, she will establish the right KPIs to measure its effectiveness and efficiency. She will put in place the best fitting operating activities (what kind of reports over Business Travel does the organization need, how can you maintain alignment among the stakeholders, what kind of meetings do you need to periodically arrange?). She will render available the right risk and issue management resources so that travellers and supporting staff know what to do in case something happens. She will make sure that the all people involved in the various intertwined travel processes are clear about their role, and who’s responsible for doing what within the programme by setting up the right accountabilities.
By looking at the above range of responsibilities falling under the hat of the Travel (& Mobility) Manager it’s easy to understand why more and more she’s referred to as the “Travel Programme CEO”!
And what do you think it’s the role of a Travel Manager? I’ll be happy to hear from you!
Want to know more?
This post belongs to the series Anatomy of a Travel Manager: