Travel buyers should help staff avoid travel

6 February 2013

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6 February 2013 | Adam Leach

The role of the travel manager needs to change to take responsibility for managing travel avoidance, according to Torbjorn Erling, Ikea’s global travel and meetings manager.

Speaking at the Business Travel Show, Erling told an audience of buyers that the current job of travel buyers is to support their colleagues by booking and arranging safe journeys and to steer them in the direction of the most cost efficient and sustainable solution.

He explained travel buyers are responsible for managing meetings in the most efficient way possible and in many cases that means arranging face-to-face meetings: “We’re here to support meetings and whenever people need to meet face to face, we will support that so they can meet in the most safe, simple, efficient way.”

But he told the audience that it is buyers’ responsibility to look to drive travel avoidance as well. He proposed purchasers should be advocates for technology such as video conferencing, so that when appropriate, meetings can be conducted without the need for the relevant parties to travel. He said: “Historically, travel managers don’t manage travel avoidance, they manage travel, so we’ve got a paradigm shift there.”

He also said buyers should look to technology to help them find the most efficient destination when physical meetings are required by factoring in the location of each attendee and finding the best solution in terms of cost, rather than the location with the best hotels and restaurants.

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