Is Your Travel Manager Obsolete?

Is Your Travel Manager Obsolete?

Travel management has undergone seismic changes over the last ten years. Aggregation has replaced old fashioned research and bargaining. Analytics has replaced manual excel based reporting. Automation has significantly reduced the clerical work involved and will most likely eliminate it within the next five years. Mobile technologies are slowly but surely replacing human coordinators.

Meanwhile the old challenges in T&E management remain. The metrics Travel Managers typically use are of little value to C-Level stakeholders leading to a wide gulf. Budget owners continue to be closer to the C-Suite. Road warriors, rightfully far more focused on reducing Traveller Friction continue to ignore policies (and the Travel Manager enforcing them) as much as possible, which is quite a bit when their budget owner backs them. The initiative for new analytics and insights has moved to Travel Management Companies.

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Where does all of this leave a Travel Manager?

Here's a not so secret secret. An enterprising Travel Manager is in a better position than ever before. Why?

Because now that the low hanging benefits of new technologies have largely been tapped it takes a real pro to deliver more value. All the analytics, aggregation etc. will not add any further value if a company lacks a coherent and holistic ROI model. One which factors in Traveller Friction, Corporate Goals and expenses beyond travel and expense accounts. Such a model requires inputs from the C-Suite on organizational metrics impacted by T&E policies, Budget Owners on the tactical goals Road Warriors have and Road Warriors themselves on Traveller Friction. These goals need to then be consolidated into a strategy, which can be tweaked regularly based on results. This generates a need for drill down analytics on specific areas of T&E management. The truth is that no one is better placed to build and monitor an ROI model than a Travel Manager. This in turn gives the Travel Manager the insights needed to make the kind of recommendations that:

  1. The C-Suite can quickly evaluate based on high level metrics.
  2. AI is at least a decade away from making.
  3. Road Warriors will be happy to back.
  4. Adapt to the changing goalposts of the organization.

This leaves the knotty problem of policy non-compliance. An ROI model that factors in Traveller Friction is far more likely to deliver policy compliance than all the time in the world being put into educating Road Warriors and Budget Owners and escalating non-compliance.

There is one catch though. This new role for a Travel Manager can only truly work if the process of evaluating performance, taking feedback, reviewing and revising policies is agile enough. In our next post we'll focus on how T&E management can become as agile as it needs to be in this day and age.

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