The role of the travel manager, and their responsibilities and skills, have evolved significantly in recent times.
Constant changes to traveller behaviour, business priorities, and economic, social and environmental governance require an agile and adaptive approach. Evolving technologies and distribution strategies are disrupting traditional methods of doing business, and only time will tell where and for whom these potential benefits apply.
Nowadays, constant change and disruption are normal aspects of business life, especially for travel managers and their travellers. Severe weather, industrial action, acts of terrorism and operational difficulties can lead to poor, stressful traveller experiences and additional costs to all affected.
So, when it comes to travel disruption, what are the issues and actions that travel managers can deploy as part of their recovery and business continuity plans? In this article, we set out a number of challenges travel managers are up against and ways to overcome them.
Duty of care and risk management
Travel managers want their trips to run seamlessly. However, uncertainty and disruption seem to be recurring factors of travel in 2023. In fact, an independent report commissioned by CMAC found that a third of survey respondents claim that their organisation doesn’t place a priority on their safety when travelling for business.
Travel managers must do everything in their power to ensure every trip is as close to perfect as possible – but they have their work cut out thanks to a whole host of reasons beyond their control.
Reacting to travel disruption
When disruption happens and transport is diverted, delayed or cancelled, this sometimes means that ground transport, marine transport, and hotel accommodation are required. This can either be organised and paid for by the provider, or they pass on the responsibility to the traveller to self-serve and pay.
The risk with travellers choosing to self-serve and pay is that they may choose transport or accommodation providers that are not appropriately vetted. Travel managers, however, will have greater visibility on which suppliers can be trusted and can better ensure the safety of travellers.
The effect of disruptions
Travellers can be left with little information, waiting hours in the airport or transport hub, often overnight, or having to find and organise their own solution. This could not only leave the traveller in a difficult financial situation until they complete the process of claiming the expenditure back, but it also poses significant security and safety risks for the traveller and the employer.
Risk management means travel managers and employers should be able to pinpoint the exact whereabouts of travellers at any given moment. In this instance, the traveller could be left with no choice but to choose a provider that not only isn’t vetted but also isn’t tracked or recorded with the organisation.
Embrace uncertainty and future-proof your programs
Plan for possible eventualities now, and you’ll be better prepared to deal with them when they arrive.
By hand-picking airlines and providers that offer a robust disruption policy, you can ensure your travellers won’t be left in the lurch whenever disruptions occur. Offering a complete, seamless end-to-end solution will put you above the competition. This will make it easy to track employees when they’re travelling between locations with trusted suppliers, so you know they are well looked after.
Factoring a managed ground transport company into your offering can help you fulfil your duty of care and ensure that the welfare of those travelling on business is in safe hands. Be sure to choose suppliers that have a 24/7 call centre for added peace of mind.
Most travel managers are already making highly effective use of technology. However, without reliable tracking systems and 24/7 support, it can be difficult to meet traveller and business needs in terms of reliability, efficiency and – of course, safety.
With new technologies and services entering the industry, it’s crucial that travel managers are choosing ground transport providers that can prove their quality and reliability. When choosing a provider, always ensure you’re prioritising:
Technology — Accessing travel updates in real-time, making instant travel amendments and completing expense forms at the touch of a button are just some of the features you should expect as standard from your travel provider.
Safety — You should be able to rest easy knowing that your travellers’ journeys are being monitored and booked with their needs in mind.
Human expertise — As intuitive as any technology may be, ensuring there is an experienced and on-demand travel expert who can act fast in an emergency is crucial.
CMAC, for example, uses advancements in technology to ensure the safety of all travellers by optimising compliance with all our suppliers. We’ve joined forces with CheckedSafe to provide safe and reliable managed transport solutions across Europe and beyond.
CheckedSafe is the leading compliance platform whose award-winning vehicle compliance system has revolutionised the way drivers and businesses carry out vehicle safety checks.
Changing demands from business travellers
The average age of the frequent business traveller is circa 29-35 with an even divide of 50% men and 50% women. Most modern business travellers want to prioritise using their smartphone to simplify their trips. This can range anywhere from searching and booking journeys to getting in touch with someone if they don’t know how to do something.
Despite a preference for technology and automation, travellers still want human interaction and assistance when disruptions hit.
In a recent CMAC aviation whitepaper, we found that respondents find that human expertise and support are always superior to technology in times of crisis and disruption. This makes 24/7 customer support an invaluable asset for travel providers. As many as 86% of the sample expressed a preference for such a hands-on, human approach.
Reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint
Travel managers are having to work harder to help corporate clients meet their sustainability targets, with carbon emissions a high priority to address.
The momentum behind the push for sustainable travel solutions is poised to surge. This upward trend encourages businesses to showcase their dedication towards preserving the environment more fervently. It places travel managers at the forefront of driving environmentally considerate decisions pertaining to flight bookings and accommodations.
Corporations will find themselves facing the imperative to conscientiously channel investments towards greener alternatives for business travel. This includes prioritising transportation that leaves a minimal carbon footprint, opting for accommodation with a sustainability policy, or even as simple as transitioning to digital travel documents, reducing the excessive usage of paper.
Another opportunity for businesses is to engage in carbon offsetting schemes, like the CMAC Forest. These initiatives are geared towards neutralising the carbon emissions generated from corporate travel activities. They can participate either through their existing suppliers or by contributing to independent environmental projects.
How can CMAC help?
A carefully planned travel management solution can go a long way in addressing the challenges travel manager’s face today.
At CMAC, we work directly with Travel Managers and in partnership with TMC’s to develop reliable travel programs that deliver complete peace of mind that travellers are in safe hands. With real time monitoring and 24/7 support, CMAC ensures your travellers can contact somebody day and night and be reassured that an experienced professional will be on hand to help.
If you would like to learn more about how CMAC makes business travel better, safer and simpler, get in touch with our customer service team, who are happy to discuss this further.