While the monetary benefits of a managed travel program to a company’s bottom line are clear, there are also valuable strategic, non-monetary benefits that may be less visible. Corporate travel professionals are responsible for providing a valuable service to their customers, the company’s travelers. This involves ensuring travel is both safe and productive. Travelers need a smooth, efficient travel process in order to reach a company’s business objectives. And during times of national, corporate, or personal crisis, travel management professionals are crucial to reducing the risk to a company and its travelers through employee tracking and emergency assistance.
“A Travel professional must simultaneously balance his or her obligation to keep travelers safe with a need to make cost-effective decisions and select suppliers and services that foster productivity, while not compromising the well-being of the traveler,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director.
The corporate travel professional’s important role is never more visible than during time of crisis. Professionals at all levels realized the enormous non-monetary benefits of their corporate travel departments and the value of the human factor. Lessons learned from a crisis show that effective communications and tracking systems managed by the travel office are essential for locating travelers, speeding their return, comforting their families and keeping the normal flow of business in times of crisis.
The new security concerns and constant changes in the travel industry have expanded the role of the corporate travel department as a provider of critical information. In a 2002 NBTA (the former name of GBTA) survey, 38% of travel managers said they were instituting new travel communication procedures and 23% said they were revising their current crisis management programs. The role of the corporate travel department has evolved into an information center that provides valuable insights on how to travel safely and efficiently. The travel department can now be seen as a critical segment of any crisis management plan.
Captain Scott Kelly might have more frequent flyer miles than any other business traveler history. As a Navy Captain and NASA astronaut, Kelly has spent more time in space than any other American – including his record-breaking year at the International Space Station: ” Captain Kelly also believes that there are many similarities between space travel and business travel. “If you don’t try to make things better – even a little bit – they are going to get worse… Sometimes you have to prepare for a very unlikely scenario that could have a huge impact.”
Successful travel management also has a substantial positive effect on employee satisfaction and increased productivity. A recent survey of 300 Internet business users revealed that a staggering 89.9% of employees utilize the internet for personal use, mainly to make travel arrangements. By-passing the travel manager thus decreases employee productivity. In addition, providing good service to a company’s travelers makes it more likely that those employees will book their travel through the travel department, increasing compliance with travel policies and ultimately allowing the corporation to realize greater financial savings.
Today’s environment presents real opportunities for travel managers to demonstrate their value to their companies and the industry as a whole, both financially and through traveler efficiency and safety. And with CEOs and CFOs now focused more on corporate travel and its effects on a company’s bottom line and risk management, anyone who can deliver accurate data that can strategically help the company chart through tough times will continue to be a valued and key player in any organization. As technology progresses and as there are more and more developments in the business travel industry, corporations will need to rely even more on the expertise, experience and insights of the often undervalued corporate travel manager.
Excerpts from www.gbta.org