Travel and Expense

What's the Impact of a Corporate Travel Manager on Business?

SAP Concur Team |

Inflation and higher travel prices are taking a toll on corporate travel. Businesses today need to be more strategic about travel and expense (T&E). That’s no surprise as budgets tighten and companies look more closely at a line item that can make up 8% to 12% of an organization’s spending. Corporate travel managers and technology can help. 

Nearly two-thirds of companies say they are under increasing pressure to manage costs. Yet, three-quarters of those surveyed say travel is important or very important to managing customer relationships and key in obtaining new business. 

The solution is to deploy an intelligent approach to travel and expenses. This requires an integrated, AI-driven travel and expense platform to save money and unlock employee value. The right technology, driven by the right people, can streamline your T&E process and optimize your spending. 

In this article, we will discuss the impact technology and corporate travel managers can have on your business, understand the role of corporate travel managers, and how to become a corporate travel manager. 

What Are Corporate Travel Managers? 

Corporate travel managers oversee travel within organizations. Depending on the size of the organization and the amount of travel required, they may book travel or work with a travel agency. Corporate travel managers typically set policies and budgets, negotiate with vendors, help employees with travel documents, and ensure compliance with company policies. 

Finding the right person for your organization to oversee travel is important. Employees wondering how to become a corporate travel manager should know there is no pre-set pathway, but most organizations seek out someone with a degree or certification in the travel services industry and experience managing travel. Corporate travel managers must be detail-oriented, savvy negotiators, and have strong communication skills to be effective. 

The Impact of Corporate Travel Managers on Business 

Corporate travel managers can impact organizations in several key areas. 

Building Strategic Corporate Travel Policies 

Corporate travel managers establish the strategic travel policies organizations need to optimize their spending. At their most basic, they set guidelines for travel. This might include classes of acceptable travel and preferred airlines, hotels, or rental cars. 

Managers will coordinate all travel either in-house or through a travel management company to ensure consistent application of these policies. This helps control spending while ensuring necessary travel is conducted within policies. 

More Efficient Travel Arrangements and Expense Management 

Skilled corporate travel managers can leverage industry experience and travel and expense (T&E) tools for greater efficiency. Sourcing travel through different partners and platforms can often achieve significant discounts and make sure employees use preferred vendors to get the best rates. 

By streamlining the expense reporting process, corporate travel managers can reduce administrative overhead and save money while reducing the burden on employees to handle travel on their own. 

Making Data-Driven Decisions 

Corporate travel managers also analyze data to make informed decisions for their organization. For example, benchmarking data to compare T&E with peers can help right-size travel policies to remain competitive. 

Measuring key metrics can also provide insight into the travel process from various viewpoints, including: 

  • Employee satisfaction 
  • Return on investment 
  • Out-of-compliance spending 
  • Savings from corporate discounts 
  • Travel incident reporting 

Aligning with Sustainability Initiatives 

Another area that is increasingly important for organizations is in the area of sustainability. 28% of travel managers say they face increasing pressure to report on travel emissions and 89% of business travelers say they are taking extra steps to reduce the environmental impact of travel. 

As companies focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), corporate travel managers can ensure travel aligns with these initiatives. 

Integrating Technology in Corporate Travel 

The right technology can streamline the user experience while ensuring compliance. Modern booking tools can reduce or eliminate paper, allow for centralized tracking of all T&E spend, and automate the enforcement of travel policies. 

AI and machine learning capabilities better monitor budget vs actuals, flag out-of-policy purchases, and analyze large amounts of corporate travel data. The insights can help with better real-time decision-making as well as inform future policy adjustments. 

Nearly 62% of finance leaders agree that artificial intelligence (AI) is an essential tool to manage the unexpected, according to the SAP Concur CFO Pulse Survey 2023. Integrating AI and machine learning to capture expense receipts drives compliance and streamlines the reporting and approval process. Customers using ExpenseIt from SAP Concur, for example, have seen returned expense reports drop from 14% to just 1.2%. 

Verify is a self-serve audit solution from SAP Concur, which also automatically reviews expense reports to identify compliance issues like duplicate receipts, incorrect data, or out-of-policy spending. 

Enhancing Employee Productivity 

A corporate travel manager can play a big role in enhancing employee productivity. When there is central coordination of travel, employees don’t have to worry about the planning and coordination of trips. This can eliminate travel-related stress and allow employees to focus on their work responsibilities rather than logistics. 

If an unexpected situation arises during travel, employees also benefit from a reliable support system that can provide assistance. Travel disruption is more common than ever before. 38% of business travelers say they have felt the impact of last-minute delays and cancellations.  

As travel stress before, during, and after trips increases for employees, it can raise anxiety levels. A coordinated effort to reduce travel stress, coupled with the right technology to manage expenses, can help with employee well-being. For companies that require regular travel, these solutions can also provide a competitive advantage when recruiting or retaining employees. 

Corporate travel managers can also help navigate complex rules and regulations, especially for international travel, and advise on potential risks based on geopolitical activity that might impact business travel. 

SAP Concur Travel and Expense Solutions 

SAP Concur is the world’s leading brand for integrated travel, expense, and invoice management. We make it possible for businesses to simplify everyday processes and provide employees with better experiences. 

Get insights into what business travelers are thinking these days. Download the SAP Concur Global Small to Midsize Business Travelers Survey



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