Managing corporate travel is never easy. It requires attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, across all continents.
It is also one of the least understood, most underappreciated, and often undervalued roles in a company. Yet, it is so critical that it requires a special type of person to accept this responsibility. Someone with an unparalleled commitment to serve, who is at their best working under pressure, can multi-task like no other, and wears many hats…. sometimes even the ones that don’t quite fit. Who could that be?
"It's a bird!"
"It's a plane!"
"It's a Travel Manager!"
Corporate travel managers are unsung heroes
You thought we were going to say Superman, didn’t you? Well, like Superman, a corporate travel manager is a diplomat, strategist, top negotiator, crisis firefighter, care giver, clear communicator, and trusted advisor.
So, what does it really take you ask? What makes a travel manager’s power and abilities beyond those of mortal men and women?
To begin, try tackling trip-o-vision! This power is nothing short of the ability to track travelers with end-to-end transparency across an entire global travel program.
Taking on the task of aligning key suppliers to meet your essential business needs, providing guidance to your travel management company service providers, obtaining employee compliance by defining clear T&E policy guidance, and being at the ready when an incident occurs that could impact your employees no matter where they are in the world is no easy feat!
Okay, so maybe travel managers didn’t really come from Krypton to manage business travel logistics, but those in those shoes know they could fill a book or two with their experiences.
Business travel management is as real as it gets, and can often feel like it takes nerves of steel to uphold the virtues of being well prepared for anything. Indeed, it can feel like you almost to have to be a “superhero” to manage all the tasks you do.
And that’s just the logistical side. Don’t forget there’s also level-setting your travelers’ service expectations across the program globally.
How can corporate travel managers handle it all?
It takes resolve and focus.
You do whatever it takes to get the job done and done right. And that is the right stuff!
You recognize that you are not in this alone. Everyone in your travel ecosystem plays a part, starting with the travelers themselves.
You empower your employees to make the right business decisions, based upon their business needs.
You give them the right technical tools to succeed and then get out of their way.
You help them along the way by eliminating outdated travel policies and processes.
One shining example of this type of travel management is exemplified at Salesforce, a global cloud-based service provider. We chatted with real-life travel superhero Dorian Stonie, director of global travel at Salesforce. Here’s what he and his global team shared:
Where do you see your travel program progressing to in 2020?
Some people talk about the "Golden Age" of travel being in the past...but I think we're in the Golden Age today. Change might be disruptive, but we are seeing so many advancements in technologies, supplier services, and a focus on personalizing the entire travel experience from start to finish. It’s a great time for travel managers to embrace the changes and to incorporate them into their travel programs, adding a higher ROI to their global program.
How do you connect with your travelers so effectively?
Personalizing our travel program: We develop travel communities, incorporate visuals into our messaging, and promote team members (Salesforce, TMC and suppliers) among our entire employee base. We are not just an HQ team - we are part of the Salesforce global family In the "new age of the customer", we focus on creating a persona or brand that resonates with our employees. Our Social Secret Sauce is 1/3 corporate info, 1/3 industry info, and 1/3 fun!
What advice can you share with travel managers to sync with their management/leadership?
One size does not fit all. You have to know your audience and connect with them in a way that effectively conveys your story. In this age of information overload, short and frequent messaging is one of our most effective tools.
What does it take to align with your travel team members given their individual regional focus?
One of the core responsibilities of the global travel manager is to create, communicate, and reinforce the benefits of our global programs (even among our own team). This is creating a collaboration environment that allows regional team members to share their unique requirements and find solutions to strengthen the broader goals of speed, scalability, and savings. This a cornerstone of our program -- knowing your customer at both the local and HQ levels.
To wrap up this week’s episode, here are a couple of key points to remember regarding your travel program:
- The travel manager’s job is rapidly changing as the next generation of corporate travel management takes hold. The Era of the Traveler and AI/ML are beginning to merge as we enter 2020.
- Travel managers have to become more strategic in their thinking, and yet stay true to a commitment of service excellence.
- Travel managers must align with likeminded service providers, and share where we need to go for our mutual success like never before.
- Travel managers must build trust among peers by empowering them to make business travel and expense decisions that meet their needs.
- Travel managers must embrace technology and the agility of mobility.
- Travel managers must strive to embrace end to end simplicity and automation and replace outdated polices and thought processes.
So the next time someone asks you what you do, remember you’re so much more than a mild-mannered travel manager.
ABOUT SAP CONCUR
SAP® Concur® is the world’s leading provider of integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solutions, driven by a relentless pursuit to simplify and automate these everyday processes. With SAP Concur, a top-rated app guides employees through every trip, charges are effortlessly populated into expense reports, and invoice approvals are automated. By integrating near real-time data and using AI to audit 100% of transactions, businesses can see exactly what they’re spending without worrying about blind spots in the budget. SAP Concur eliminates yesterday’s tedious tasks, makes today’s work easier, and helps businesses run at their best every day. Learn more at concur.com or the SAP Concur blog.
Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies—cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain—to create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.
Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase Salesforce applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CRM.” For more information please visit https://www.salesforce.com, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE.