Last week, the GBTA Foundation released a study that showed technology is poised to transform the role of Travel Managers within the next three to five years. Currently, Travel Managers find that tactical tasks – managing vendor relationships, developing and monitoring programs and policies, etc. – dominate their current responsibilities. Thanks in part to technology and its streamlining and automating ability, Travel Managers expect their position to shift to a more strategic role.
The study, “A Day in The Life: The Role of Travel Managers,” sponsored by Sabre Travel Network, surveyed more than 700 North American and European Travel Managers and looked at the role of the Travel Manager, the value these managers bring to their organizations and a potential evolution in their role in the near future.
Travel Managers often find themselves pulled in several different directions at once. At present, procurement-related activities dominate their daily responsibilities, including evaluating and negotiating with preferred travel service providers and obtaining and managing contracts with their providers. Travel Managers also are frequently responsible for activities related to managing internal and external stakeholder relationships, developing and monitoring programs and policies, as well as other areas such as evaluating technology solutions and applying business analytics.
Within the next three to five years, Travel Managers expect to see an increasing reliance on technology and, consequently, using data and analytics to make decisions.
This doesn’t surprise us. Technology has transformed many industries already, automating and streamlining processes.
Technology will allow Travel Managers to expand their role and further demonstrate their value. This includes calculating company savings, a task Travel Managers are often asked to do, but currently find to be difficult and ineffective.
Travel managers also expect further globalization of travel programs and an increased focus on safety and security. This stems from our changing society and reacting to it.
As part of the study, Travel Managers were also asked their biggest challenge at their job. The majority responded with “travel policy compliance,” both in ensuring that the travelers follow company policy as well as obtaining senior leadership buy-in for policies. Additional common problems include keeping costs down, managing globalization, using data to direct decision-making, and keeping up with technology advancements available for travel.