Habits that make a successful travel manager in 2021

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As an in-house travel manager, it’s your job to oversee all aspects of business travel. From corporate travel policy, and optimising travel spend to managing travel expenses and communicating with travellers and management on anything travel related.

As we look ahead to a new, and hopefully busy year for the travel industry, how can you become a more valuable travel manager? Here are four habits to be more successful in your role.

Saying yes to autonomy

Who likes being micromanaged? Not many people. About 69% said they considered changing jobs because of micromanagement, and another 36% changed jobs! 

As a manager, you can forget what it’s like to be micromanaged yourself, and it isn’t great. As the employee, you feel you can’t be trusted with your job’s responsibilities, you’re always being watched, and every move you make is analysed. 

Instead of breathing down each travellers’ neck, give them autonomy when booking trips. The traditional corporate travel booking process is out in favour of a passenger-driven approach.

If you’re concerned about the purse strings, consider implementing limitations to travel bookings, for example, take expensive hotels off the suitable accommodation lists, cap travel spending and invest in a SaaS solution that enables you to gain a 360-degree view of your travel and expense data.

You can still sit in the driver’s seat without steering everyone individually.

Embracing delegation

Being able to delegate is something that every travel manager has to get better at. Why? Your job encompasses many moving parts, so it’s impossible for you to manage every element yourself, that’s why you need to be able to delegate work to your team around you. 

You need to take the time to understand which tasks you need to see to personally, and which can be outsourced to your wider team or passed onto the traveller themselves.

Delegating trip booking to your travellers means one, it’s a task you no longer need to complete, and two, you’re empowering the traveller to take control of their own business trip. 

This approach to travel booking means you’re decreasing dependence on you as the travel manager.

Treating travellers as people

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to be kind to others; you don’t know what everyone is going through.

Travelling for business has always taken its toll on families. Spending time apart from their children and staying in unfamiliar places can be stressful and tiring. The pandemic grounded much of business travel, which meant travellers were forced to re-evaluate their life choices and address their work-life balance.

Spending time with their families in 2020 could mean resuming travel once again could be more difficult than before. A survey found that over 42% of business travellers disliked being away from their families, and that was in 2019.

With COVID still rife and virus variants spreading quickly, it’s understandable that your travellers have very specific anxieties around travelling right now. So as your business resumes travel, take travellers emotions and anxieties into account. It’s a very unique situation so it’s important every traveller is considered on an individual basis, no one-size-fits-all approach will work in this instance.

Implementing a feedback loop

Getting feedback is how we all learn and grow from our experiences, and that’s no different for you as a travel manager.

As a travel manager, you have to create a streamlined experience for every business traveller. Doing your job well enables them to do their job better. You’re the key that unlocks productivity, effective spend management, efficient expense reporting, seamless business travel, and, of course, travel policy compliance. 

Your job is essential, so you need feedback from those you’re helping. How can you help them better? What are their thoughts or issues with the current travel programme?

You need to implement a cyclical feedback process, where travellers, management and other stakeholders can openly and honestly feedback their experiences with your programme.

This is the only sure-fire way to continually improve your travel policy, and make sure it works for those who it’s intended for. Continual improvement means you become a better, more valuable, successful travel manager.

Here’s to a bustling 2021 for travel, cheers!

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