Until a few years ago there was no figure responsible for travel management as such. The travel manager's role used to be covered by the CEO’s personal assistant, or even by administrative staff. However, these profiles usually have neither the training nor the expertise needed to achieve high-quality corporate travel management. So, what is the professional travel manager like?
Usually a professional with a background in tourism, specialising in business tourism or business administration, with emphasis on the management of teams, resources and budgets.
A specialist in business travel management must know the environment in depth. The tourism business has changed greatly in recent years, at an ever faster pace: the needs, trends... In addition, the way we travel is not the same as 10 years ago, and will not be the same in 10 years’ time, meaning that travellers' needs also change and evolve. Thus, it is necessary for a good travel manager to undergo a process of constant updating and training.
The travel manager at a company has a direct relationship with the travellers, as well as with the suppliers. On the one hand, achieving a corporate traveller’s satisfaction is not always easy, but it is useful to offer a cordial, pleasant and sympathetic service. On the other hand, having good relations with suppliers also facilitates negotiations and the relationship between suppliers and company. It is not necessary to be in direct contact with “allies” (preferred suppliers or those approved by the company), which can be helpful when organising business travel.
The ability to negotiate is essential for anyone performing travel management functions. It is one of the most important tasks we face, as it has to take into account not only the economic aspect but also other factors such as needs, type of travel, travellers’ personalities, etc.
Finally, knowing how to prioritise is of the utmost importance. There can be different travel requests for the same dates. We need to know what is more urgent or more important, what to spend more time and resources on in order to achieve an optimal level of management.