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.
Last week I shared my point of view on Whois the Travel Manager, this week I will analyse what are the activities and responsibilities of a Travel Manager.
Are you ready?
The responsibilities of a Travel (& Mobility) Manager span from daily operativity to high level strategy. Based on my experience I’ve identified the following activities:
The Travel Manager will be responsible for laying out the Travel Policy. The Travel Policy is a key document as it sets the framework and the rules for the optimal operation of the Travel Program. As the interests around the travel policy go deep within the organisation, the Travel Manager will seek support from other impacted functions/departments to ensure all these needs are duly factored in. In the preparation of the Travel Policy, the Travel Manager will balance the needs of the Travellers with the cost control goals of the organisation and will make sure the programme provides adequate support to the business
Operations activities under the responsibility of a Travel Manager lie in two different areas.
Sourcing & contracting
The needed sourcing activities (RFx) will be put in place to ensure all the key elements of the Programme are selected according to the needs and objectives of the Travel Programme. It’s key that all the activities are adequately covered with contracts, in case of dispute with the suppliers. Depending on each organization, this sourcing & contracting activity might be carried on in cooperation with a Procurement department.
Overseeing of daily BT operations
I personally see the role of the Travel Manager as a strategic one. It means that more than making bookings or following up on very practical issues, the Travel Manager holds a duty of supervision over the daily activities to ensure their smooth operation.
Productivity, efficiency and control over the Travel Programme are ensured by the implementation of the right technology, the right payment tools and the right processes. And the choice over the three lies in the hands of the Travel Manager in agreement with other impacted functions such as IT and Finance. These three aspects are deeply interrelated. I’d like to stress how technology and processes need to go hand in hand for an optimal experience. Processes cannot be forced on unfitting technologies and vice versa. And one cannot expect to fix a problem by just introducing a different technology.
Set up appropriate measures for travellers’ safety & security
In the more and more uncertain global situation, having measures in place in case something happens is key. It’s not just a matter of the worst situations such as natural disasters or terrorists attack, but also to create a safety net for the traveller in case something goes wrong: a sudden illness, a lost passport, missing luggage and so on. It’s a key touch point in the Traveller’s Journey and it’s central to know what to do in case one of these situations occurs, in a moment where the traveller is particularly sensitive and in a weak position.
Support budget control & forecasting
Provide support to the Finance function in the yearly budget process and in the infra-yearly forecast update. The Travel Manager, on the other hand, will also seek support from the finance function to validate the decisions affecting the travel program
Within a logic of continuous improvement, the Travel Manager always needs to keep an eye on opportunities for optimization that arise all over the year. At the same time, to lead the communication of the Travel Programme in agreement with the internal communication department and HR department
Manage communication and change
To support the development of the Travel Programme, the Travel Manager in conjunction with the Internal Communication Department, will find the most appropriate channels to convey the key messages and key information about the Travel Programme.
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: