How to hire a travel manager

While corporate business travel sees little sign of slowing down, we have seen an increase in companies wanting to bring business travel management in house. We’ve also noticed a rise in travel managers looking to leave jobs at corporate travel management companies (TMCs) to work directly within a business as specialist travel coordinators. They then procure and streamline a tailormade travel policy and systems to suit one business.

Travel is one of the largest expenses of many businesses. Companies of all sizes are beginning to work smarter and realise that hiring a travel manager will cut costs.

If you’re seeking a way to shape how your business organises travel, knowing how to hire a travel manager and making sure you get the right person is half the battle. We do this for companies every week. While efficiencies are important and tech plays a crucial role, having dedicated travel management staff in your company is a great bonus for employee welfare.

For smaller companies with 10 or more employees, this may be the first time they’ve considered a travel manager. If your PA or office manager simply books the first flight that suits employee schedules, or the first hotel that’s nearest to your destination, these are signs you need to hire a business travel manager. In the 21st century, they have multiple time-saving and cost-saving tricks up their sleeves, and will add to employee satisfaction. Hiring a dedicated travel manager is a sign that management understands the needs of their employees and is willing to invest in them.

Tech vs travel managers

Every day it seems there are new apps and systems to aid business travel. Many offer brilliant and innovative tech solutions, integrating many systems and booking tools. Some companies may encourage you to rely wholly on an app. Often an office manager or similar will be put in charge of handling how the company uses the tech.

However, although we’re firmly in favour of the expanding tech market in travel and in hospitality (and are recruiting for travel and hospitality tech), we’re not yet at the stage where we can do away with travel management experts. Companies with dedicated business travel managers manage their travel systems more effectively and more efficiently, saving the company money and grief. Successful business travel is about looking after staff welfare, making business trips run smoothly, not causing excessive fatigue but keeping them in good shape for meetings, and the best way of doing that is personally.

Competitive market      

The good news for hiring managers is that there is a competitive market for experienced travel managers. It’s a sought-after job. The best ones are paid well and are given responsibility ensuring they stay put for a good while. We find it’s often relatively easy to find the right travel manager for our clients. We mostly use our headhunting and executive search skills for these positions. We place in large corporations, as well as many small to medium sized businesses.

Job description of a good travel manager

Travel managers are usually responsible for planning, developing, and implementing a corporate travel policy for a company. They will negotiate deals with vendors and be in charge of the operation of the travel programme. They’ll also be on top of business traveller safety and security while travelling, as well as ensuring that an expenses policy works – they’ll certainly know which of the latest business travel tech the company should be using and ensure staff are trained in how to operate it. They also prepare periodic travel budget reports and work to stay within budget. A large TMC in contrast, will work with multiple corporate clients and offer a Travel Management solution for all.

Sourcing a good travel manager without a specialist travel recruitment company isn’t easy. I deal with travel management roles daily, and will help you understand what to look for in a travel manager, travel coordinator or travel procurement manager. The team can also advise on what will work best for your size and style of company. The job description for a travel manager will vary from company to company, but the tasks described above are a good starting point. We can help you shape the role if necessary. And, as we’ve stated above, our best hires tend to be from executive search.

The benefit of an in-house travel manager

Hiring an in-house travel manager will cut your business travel costs, by streamlining how everyone in your company books travel and handles travel expenses. Establishing a travel policy that takes into account the welfare of staff, the costs, and the overall experience and benefit of travel in your company can only be a good thing. Staff will be reassured that there is someone – or a team, depending on the size of the company – who is fully responsible. This also takes away the time-consuming job of organising travel from other staff.

The benefit of hiring someone rather than using a TMC is that the person only has one account – yours. They truly understand your office culture and the needs of business travellers in your company. It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Of course, use of a TMC can help, too – particularly as you’ll need to offer travellers 24-hour support in case of emergency or cancelled transport, for example. But working in tandem with a TMC is a good way to handle this.

Nicola is an expert in hiring travel managers. Contact her about how to hire a travel manager for your business: Email or connect with Nicola on LinkedIn here to start the conversation.