If you enjoy planning itineraries and juggling destination details, the role of a travel manager may be your dream job. Travel managers have the responsibility of designing and overseeing corporate travel policies, from expense management to staff travel plans.
As with any position, the description of your daily expectations varies by company. It’s important to get an explanation of the role before you accept a position anywhere. In general, though, travel managers have consistent duties.
Your day will have various tasks, all designed to ensure safe and cost-effective travel for everyone. With that target in mind, we’ve put together a short guide that explains what the job of a travel manager for any company encompasses.
1. An Overview of the Job
The ideal corporate travel manager knows how to craft travel policies effectively while monitoring changes on the horizon in the hospitality industry and including them in the policies.
Your job includes monitoring all activity from start to finish when an employee is heading out on business. Someone else may be tasked with the action steps of booking corporate hotels, arranging transportation, and handling other aspects of travel. Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to ensure it’s all done and enacted correctly.
This position involves more than organizing and handling travel details. You must be able to think strategically and plan for problems before they happen. If a challenge comes up, you have to think on your feet quickly to solve it.
Additionally, you’ll need the soft skills of leadership and communication. You’ll be sharing the corporate travel policy with everyone in the company, and they’ll come to you with questions and concerns.
2. The Travel Manager’s Responsibilities
Corporate travel managers typically have a bachelor’s degree or higher in an industry such as tourism, travel, or hospitality. This education prepares the individual for the responsibilities they’ll need to perform as a regular part of the job.
The job itself may sound like fun: You’re planning trips for everyone in the company! But while there are parts that are entertaining, the responsibility of keeping everyone safe while balancing cost-effectiveness is a serious one.
Your duties will include vital tasks like:
- Developing the policies and programs your company will use for all facets of corporate travel
- Handling travel arrangements and overseeing the operations to completion
- Networking and managing company relations with vendors and travel agencies to get the best rates and offerings
- Negotiating rates and contracts with all providers in the travel industry as the need arises
- Advising staff on obtaining and securing necessary travel documents, insurance, international policies, and other crucial information
- Handling the financial side of travel, such as credit card programs, per diems, charges and reimbursements, and completing the forms the accounting department needs for audits
In addition to these duties, it’s up to you to verify that everyone else is complying with the corporate travel procedures. Communication is important after a trip, too. Listen to staff feedback when they return, and if it’s beneficial, use it to improve the policies in place.
2. Hard Skills Travel Managers Need
You may be able to obtain an entry-level position in travel management with a high school diploma or equivalent. The degree helps, but having certain hard and soft skills will make the job easier for you.
Experience in hospitality or travel management is a plus, as is having knowledge about international travel policies, regulations, customs, and currencies.
It will be to your advantage if you can prepare by studying travel and expense (T&E) laws and regulations, software, reporting, and processing. Other computer skills you should have mastered are MS Office, including Excel, and Google Drive platforms. Microsoft Teams is becoming popular in many companies today, too.
3. Soft Skills That Make an Ideal Travel Manager
Soft skills you should be proficient in include oral and written communication (spell check helps, but it’s not foolproof) and negotiating skills. You’ll need to be organized and dependable.
Since much of your job balances customer service, staff satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line, a strong sense of business and working toward goals must underlie every part of your day.
Remember, every person traveling for the company depends on you to keep them safe. Your duty of care is to bring them home in the same or better shape as they left.
They need to see you as someone who cares about them so they can trust you to handle their travel details. Developing the skill of emotional intelligence (EQ) will help you master this part of your job.
If you want to work in a position that’s always interesting and keeps you on your toes, and you love planning trips, consider becoming a travel manager. You’ll need a combination of hard and soft skills to go with your education. With this guide and your experience, you’ll master the role quickly.