26 November 2019

Why Your Company Needs a Business Travel Manager

How many times this year have you organised international business travel, either for yourself or for a colleague? You’re not alone - as connectivity grows and the world gets smaller, more and more of us are flying out for overseas events, conferences, and exciting new business opportunities.

Today, flying for business is easier than ever. But with business travel comes underlying duties that are a lot more in-depth than buying airline tickets and booking overnight stays.

It’s therefore beneficial to place the task of organising business trips in expert hands: a business travel manager (BTM).

The biggest challenge for a BTM is to satisfy employees while complying with guidelines and budgets.

In this article, we explore five important roles of your business travel manager, look at how they can balance a budget and employee satisfaction, and what skills you need to have to be a successful business travel manager.

5 important roles of your business travel manager

In business, it’s not just the major stakeholders who can improve your cash flow; your business travel manager can play an important role in this, too. Behind the scenes, they’re compiling documents and adhering to rules and restrictions that help them remain within budget while at the same time maintaining the traveller’s satisfaction and comfort.

The five main roles of your business travel manager include:

1. Creating rules for the organisation of business travel

This includes standards of accommodation and flight classes, as well as expense reporting and business credit card management. These rules must then be circulated around the business, making sure everyone has access to them.

2. Monitoring your business travel guidelines

Your BTM has the responsibility to create, follow, and update these guidelines where necessary, ensuring each business trip falls within the budget provided and all travellers are following company policies.

3. Tracking all expenses and ensure that all business travel is within budget

It’s natural for you or your business travel colleagues to want some personal time during trips, and if you’re looking to improve your company culture, ‘bleisure’ should be encouraged. However, it’s important that they keep their receipts for all corporate-related purchases in order for your BTM to track expenses and maintain the budget restrictions. So, next time you order that bottle of wine, make sure you ask for the receipt!

4. Seeking solutions for reducing business travel costs

Saving money (while ensuring comfort) is the ultimate goal for your BTM. From signing up to business travel loyalty programmes (like PartnerPlusBenefit) to looking at flights via comparison sites, they’ll be able to reduce your business travel costs, all the while complying with your quality standards and corporate policies.

5. Selecting the best travel agency or business travel loyalty programme

In the search for saving money, your BTM will look for the best travel agency or business travel loyalty programme to sign up with based on your company’s needs. Everything from your business size (read ‘Why a Travel Loyalty Programme Could Help Your Start-Up Soar), the number of times your company travels, and even common destinations are taken into account. Your BTM is also accountable for maintaining relationships with the agency or your company’s online account, so any issues before, during, or after your business trip can be dealt with efficiently.

Checklist: how to be a successful business travel manager

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Has your company got an employee who’s designated to business travel bookings?
  2. Has your company implemented a travel policy?

If the answer to both is ‘no’, it’s probably about time you hire a business travel manager. And here’s what you need to look out for.

In most cases, travel managers are qualified individuals but business travel managers can also come from the company’s purchasing department, having had similar experience in concluding contracts with suppliers and carrying out careful market analyses. 

In order to carry out the above roles, a BTM will have:

  • Strong negotiation and organisational skills
  • The ability to manage a budget
  • The ability to learn how to use new tools, software, and programmes efficiently
  • To constantly take advantage of any budget-saving opportunities
  • To be comfortable interacting with your company’s various internal/external stakeholders

Sounds like someone you know?

Finally, the role of a business travel manager is to analyse the ROI (return on investment) of the business trip and determine to what extent the investment has actually affected the company’s productivity and business. By taking into account the impact of the intensity of the trip on success, and the results achieved, your BTM can verify the actual success of the trip and find out what needs to be improved or changed for the next one.

The importance of your business travel manager

More and more companies are looking to the horizon for exciting new business ventures. 

A dedicated business travel manager can help to take you there.

The BTM’s role involves far more than booking airline tickets and sorting accommodation. Think of them as your coordinator, ensuring that every flight your company makes is cost-efficient, compliant, convenient, and comfortable. Soon, increasingly important issues like integrated mobility, sustainability, and the environmental impact will need maintaining, too. 

Best of all, because of the work business travel managers are conducting, your employees are ensured travel with the highest satisfaction, at the lowest possible cost.

What could be more reassuring than that?

Are you in charge of your business’ travel bookings and looking to balance a budget with employee satisfaction? Browse Lufthansa Group’s PartnerPlusBenefit programme and see how you can achieve both.

In which country should you always accept tea or coffee when your business host offers it?