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14 July 2014 | Anna Scott
The role of the specialist travel manager is set to return as the business travel market strengthens and optimism increases, says an AirPlus International report.
Now that travel is treated as one procurement category among many, companies have recognised they need help to deliver a refined services to their travelling staff, AirPlus managing director Caroline Haywood says in the report on The Wire UK.
Different skill sets will be in demand as travel managers are faced with a more potentially baffling and fragmented array of service providers, technology options, strategic advisers and internal stakeholders than ever before, the report states.
“Marketing skills are an increasingly important part of the armoury. Getting maximum savings from a travel policy means coaxing maximum compliance from staff,” Haywood said. “And that needs internal communication skills to sell the benefits to executives and employees alike.”
Haywood added the rise of centralised procurement in travel management was more than just a functional reorganisation. “The focus, emphasis and philosophy of corporate travel management changed too. With finance, procurement and treasury in the driving seat, concerns about productivity, value and fiscal risk have become top priority.”
Roger Eccleston, head of strategic projects, added: “Procurement tries to commoditise everything it touches but it is in the nature of travel, and the traveller, to resist. Travel is too perishable for full commoditisation – empty seats on departure are gone forever. There are so many factors – weather, quality, location, environment – all working in real-time to make or break the traveller’s experience.”
The report suggests despite cost pressures, the employer’s duty of care and travellers’ needs should be at the heart of procurement strategies surrounding business travel.