If you think being a travel manager is an easy task, think twice. The role requires a skill set that would make most professionals break into a cold sweat. It's not really a single role, in fact. It's more like twelve.
1. Diplomat - Travelers, travel organizers, the leadership team, heads of divisions, suppliers, the finance team…The number of stakeholders a travel manager interacts with is vast. With that comes a daily cocktail of differing needs and personalities. In large companies, the role is normally global or at least regional. Throw into the mix cultural acumen to cater to an international audience.
2. Linguist – The travel industry has so many acronyms and jargon, travel managers need to make sense of the gibberish. Plus, they'll need to navigate languages and accents with the speed and accuracy of a UN translator.
3. Firefighter - Not a single day passes without a glitch. Rail strikes, hurricanes, technical issues…or a traveler who missed a flight because they were a little overenthusiastic entertaining a client the night before. Travel managers need nerves of steel.
4. Carer – Road warriors are a valuable asset to any company. Their wellbeing and duty of care is a travel managers’ responsibility.
5. Purchaser - Air, hotel, ground transportation, technology, venues… Purchasing is a big part of life and requires quick thinking and being good with numbers.
6. Negotiator - Knowing the technicalities of purchasing is crucial and being a top negotiator integral to getting the best deals and making the most of constrained travel budgets.
7. Accountant - Handling a travel budget is no joke. Travel managers need to be financially savvy to make it work.
8. Salesperson - Conveying the virtues of a travel policy to travelers and top management requires the most advanced sales techniques. Any travel manager knows their success depends on compliance. It is key to sell the benefits.
9. Entertainer - For those more inclined to carrots than sticks, some managers increase policy compliance through gamification techniques that engage their employees and keep the travel program on track.
10. Communicator - A great travel manager needs to communicate a company policy effectively and design a communication strategy so that employees understand what's expected of them.
11. Techy - Technology is a massive part of travel nowadays. Travel managers use several tools to help them with their job. Technical literacy is a must if you are thinking of becoming a travel manager.
12. Data analyst – Last but not least, travel managers need to understand data to make amendments to the travel policy and program. Fortunately, Travel Management Companies like CWT have a set of reporting tools that simplify this task.
The next time you pass your company's travel manager in the hall, give them a high-five.