Travel managers might manage trips to islands for their employees, but they don’t work on them. With firsthand insight from a former travel manager, we explore what departments and business units travel managers need to build allies with to do their job most effectively.
Rita McKee, a former travel manager turned account manager for Travel and Transport says relationship management is a critical skill for every travel manager to nurture.
“Depending on the organization, everyone knows what their job is, but employees don’t always make the connection between what they are doing and how it might impact other areas, or how another area might be able to help them with their challenges,” McKee says. “One of the big things I discovered during my years of relationship management was that having a genuine interest in others’ work and responsibilities and asking how I could help went a long way in getting them to value the travel program and compliance with the policy.”
Even something as simple as company announcements can help promote the value of the travel program for travel managers, McKee says.
“If we were sitting in our bubble of travel and were going to make a policy change that we knew might not be popular, it helped to be able to time our announcement around other company-wide messages HR, for example, might be planning to send.”
Assume a Helpful Stance with Other Departments and Business Units
Offer to create custom reports that can help siloed departments gain visibility into their travel spend and how it compares with other areas. Keep in mind that business units located in other countries around the world may have separate budgets and goals that the travel manager should be aware of and help accommodate. Custom reports tailored to those goals and budgets can help an organization have a truly global view of their travel spend and program.
Show corporate executives the value of the travel program by communicating with regular reports about commissions that are being returned.
“Returned commissions help offset the cost of the travel program,” says McKee. “Showing who is and isn’t booking within the travel program can validate the need to be compliant with the travel policy and boost your authority within the organization.”
While compliance can’t be forced, the cost of noncompliance can be made clear. Doing so further strengthens the value of the travel manager within the organization.
Lean on Relationships with Suppliers and TMCs
Travel managers need more than just technical knowledge around travel itself. They need to develop strong relationships with their suppliers because those can make or break a travel program.
“A lot of us have years of experience and may think we know everything about the travel program, but in reality, it’s challenging to keep up with airlines changing their product branding and new suppliers coming in all the time,” says McKee. “Lean on your relationships with suppliers and allow them to be consultative.”
Explore more tips about how travel managers can prove their value within their organizations and build cross-departmental relationships by checking out our ebook now. Or, read Rita McKee’s piece on how falling asleep at the wheel caused her to lose a previous job at a Fortune 500 company.
What departments do you believe are critical to form relationships with for a travel program to succeed? How do you encourage compliance with your travel policy? Talk to one of our corporate travel experts today about how much your organization could benefit from Travel and Transport’s comprehensive travel portal and customer service support.