The job description of a travel manager has transformed exponentially in the last decade and it’s a transformation that shows no sign of slowing down – which presents a real challenge for those who have made successfully managing an organisation’s travel programme their trade.
Whereas once an organisation’s travel manager could be found drowning in a sea of paper tickets, booking confirmations and expense claims, the development of E-tickets and online booking tools has resulted in the role becoming less administrative and much more strategic – which is good news. What better person to have leading an organisation’s travel programme than someone who has first-hand experience of exactly how it travels? After talking to clients, account managers and travel managers themselves, here are three challenges that we feel travel managers are facing going into the latter half of 2018:
1.Using data effectively
Data goes hand in hand with corporate travel technology. Whether it’s traveller profiles, journey itineraries, out of policy bookings, average cost or most popular destinations, it’s never been so easy to collect data on how your organisation travels, but is it as easy to actually understand it?
As a travel manager it can feel like data is stacking up around you before you have chance to digest, understand and implement it. With the modern travel manager’s role becoming ever more strategic, it’s important not to get distracted by the quantity of data available and focus instead on the quality of the data and its implications for your organisation’s travel programme.
A great place to start would be highlighting data that can help you to predict how your organisation will travel in the future. The rise in popularity of predictive analytics and intuitive booking tools means that the whole of the corporate travel industry is quite literally looking ahead, and being able to make smart forecasts regarding popular trips and style of travel in order to secure the best rates will stand your organisation in good stead.
2. Finding the right technology
When it comes to selecting an online booking tool for your organisation, there’s never been more choice - in fact, online booking tools now make up the bread and butter of many a TMC’s offering. However, with so many online booking tools now available, it’s harder to correctly evaluate which will be the right fit for your travellers and your organisation as a whole – the wrong technology can send your travel programme into a nosedive, as travellers will quickly shun it in favour of a more accessible option.
The trick to finding the right booking tool is selecting one that has the ability to be flexible and prioritises user experience whilst looking after corporate interests. Flexibility is also vital if you’re to select an online booking tool that is a viable option for the long-term, as it will give your organisation room as it grows and changes.
The corporate travel industry as a whole is seeing a real push to improve user experience, striving for less disparity (if any!) between B2B and B2C booking tools. In order to find an online booking tool that will offer a great user experience to travellers, travel managers must have an in-depth understanding of company culture and attitudes – as well as being acutely aware of what it is about the current booking tool that turns travellers off.
3. Keeping travellers & corporates happy
Travel managers have been performing the unenviable balancing act of managing traveller satisfaction with corporate interests since time began and that certainly looks set to continue, with a totally content team of travellers remaining the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The real challenge for travel managers is absorbing traveller noise and correctly evaluating which of that noise can be turned into useful feedback for procurement teams who are going out to tender, as well as a meaningful direction for an organisation’s overall travel strategy.
It’s also becoming increasingly important for travel managers to educate travellers on the motivations behind an organisation’s travel supplier, programme, policy and duty of care efforts. It’s now so easy for travellers to book outside of contract, particularly those of the millennial generation, that travel managers are under pressure to get travellers to remain invested in an organisation’s travel programme, explaining that decisions aren’t based solely on cost, if they’re to successfully capture leakage and satisfy corporate interests.
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