This year’s Business Travel Show featured presentations and panel discussions with experts from across the industry. We’ve collated our highlights for those who missed the event.
Travel managers have to juggle an increasingly complex workload. They must deliver a programme that’s within budget and fits the needs of both travellers and corporations while at the same time keeping on top of developments in the industry and technology. The skills that travel managers need are therefore becoming more diverse.
The role of travel manager has moved from a transactional one to a strategic one, meaning they must be able to align travel programmes with corporate objectives. As the modern travel manager’s skill set becomes increasingly similar to that of a C-level executive, strategic planning will be key. Soft skills like empathy are also vital.
The ability to communicate effectively is an essential skill for any travel professional. Engaging both internally and externally has been key to the role for years, but few travel managers have formal training in this area.
It’s so important to collect, analyse and interpret travel data. This will show you how money is being spent, but it’s up to the travel manager to apply that to the business, which requires deep organisational knowledge and a human touch.
Any travel programme must strike a balance between buyers and suppliers, as well as the differing needs of travellers and employers. Liaising between these parties is therefore a central part of any travel manager role. And while procurement often focuses on savings, travel is unlike any other category due to its dynamic pricing structures. Travel managers must focus not just on savings but on overall value to the business, as well as complex human factors.
Most of a travel manager’s day is spent in front of a screen of some kind, but very few come from a technology background. However, awareness in this area is an asset. You don’t necessarily need to know how every tool works, but you should understand what business results it can enable. To keep up with the evolution of tech, travel managers should listen to their travel management company, their tech suppliers and in-house IT. If those three agree about what’s important, that’s usually a good sign.
- Strategic planning is a top skill, followed by communication, analysis and negotiation.
- Travel managers need soft skills, too.
- You don’t need to be a geek when it comes to travel tech – awareness is as useful as in-depth knowledge.