March 1, 2024

Spread the word

A campaign to help attract future talent into business travel has got off to a strong start thanks to widespread support

Professionals from across the industry have signed up to join a campaign to help attract new talent into business travel.

The ‘Business Travel Ambassadors’ campaign gives a platform to people at all stages of their careers to share their stories in order to raise the profile of business travel and encourage potential candidates to pursue a career in the sector.

Spearheaded by The Business Travel Magazine and supported by the BTA, ITM, GBTA, Advantage Travel Partnerships and Focus Travel Partnership, the initiative is designed to help solve the talent shortage being faced by companies across the whole eco-system.

It was announced at the Business Travel People Awards in September, where the three winners of the ‘Rising Star’ award – Sinéad Ryan, Georgia Suttie and Laura Garton – were invited to become the first official Business Travel Ambassadors. 

“Even before I had got home from the awards ceremony I was contacted by people wanting to join the campaign. The support has been amazing,” said Bev Fearis, Editor of The Business Travel Magazine.

“Our Ambassadors come from all corners of the sector – travel managers, suppliers, associations and TMCs – and range from those early in their career to CEOs and business owners. But they all share a love for their jobs and for the travel industry and want to help promote business travel as a career.”

Ambassadors will be invited to speak at conferences, webinars, and careers events in schools, colleges and universities, and their stories will be shared in The Business Travel Magazine, its website, podcasts, newsletter and on social media.

Here’s what some of the Business Travel Ambassadors had to say about why they’ve joined the campaign and what they hope to achieve.

Sinéad Ryan, Head of Account Management UK, ALTOUR

I think the business travel industry needs to continue raising its profile through organisations such as The BTA, GBTA etc. We need to continue shining a light on the vital role corporate travel plays in the broader economy. I also think we need to get out into our local communities, into schools, colleges and universities, to showcase the benefits of working in corporate travel. I have had the opportunity to visit some amazing places which I never would have been to, had it not been for working in this industry.

Georgia Suttie, Venue Find Operations Manager, Agiito

Travel is a fast-paced environment where everyday brings something new and challenges. By being a Business Travel Ambassador I want to inspire, motivate, and educate our current and next generation and be a voice for the venue find and events sector within the business travel industry. I will happily share my experiences and expertise for future generation, which is also an opportunity for me to develop my confidence in public speaking.

Laura Garton, Sales and Marketing Executive, Synergy Global Housing

I want to raise the profile of our industry and the variation of job opportunities available and inspire those who may have similar interests to me who haven’t yet considered business travel as a profession. I believe there is more of an opportunity to achieve this by attending freshers fairs/career events where ambassadors can have one-on-one conversations and education sessions with people who are genuinely interested in finding a good job. 

Ana Gibson, Manager CBS – Workplace Services, Deloitte LLP

I don’t think people realise the impact on the economy that all travel and especially business travel has on the economy and for this reason it is massively overlooked and under-supported by the government and those who are also tasked with teaching youths about possible jobs for their futures. We need to change the perception that travel industry is so much more than booking a holiday. There are thousands of different jobs outside a travel agent. We need to truly highlight all the roles that are available on both the leisure and corporate side and the skills necessary.  We also need to let people know what a tight knit community the industry is, and how you have to be so multi-skilled to be able to work within at a higher level.

Alice Linley-Munro | Travel Manager, Oil Spill Response Limited

We should be shouting about what we do from the rooftops. I know there is great work being completed by industry bodies around advocacy and lobbying the Government, however parallel to this we need to be engaging with careers fairs, universities, and with courses in the travel/tourism space. At OSRL we go to the local school careers fair and we see a pipeline of their students coming in as apprentices in our Equipment Hire Services department. One of our past apprentices is now a duty manager with the company so has risen about as far as he can go. It’s about making people aware that leisure is not the only option when it comes to travel, but it’s hard to compete against the flashier side!

Nikki Rogan, Global Procurement Travel Director, Fujitsu

My friends and family just assume I am a travel agent. I don’t think they really understand the role of a travel buyer within the corporate world. Many people are unaware of the different business travel segments such as technology, duty of care etc. The industry needs to share information on the entire business travel industry via webinars and college and school visits. I have a genuine interest in travel itself but the people in the industry definitely make it for me.  It’s also an ever evolving industry that never gets boring.

Neil Wainwright-Farrar, Head of Learning & Development, Clarity

Many people will know about retail travel agencies and airlines etc as they are very prominent on the high street or the skies. We need shout about the business travel industry, engage with schools, colleges and universities and create partnerships with them to raise awareness of the industry and the variety of roles available. Employers need to showcase their brand and culture which delights people before they have even applied for a role with us. Don’t have tunnel vision. The people who have left our industry may not return so do employers need to rethink their recruitment strategies?

Tracey Wilson, Operations Director, Blue Cube Travel

I love the people in this industry – the people I work with, our clients and our supplier partners. I want to be a Business Travel Ambassador to educate people about what we do and how we do it and share my love of this great industry. At Blue Cube we work with local colleges and recruit young apprentices and train them up from the beginning, starting with the vey basics. As an industry, we need to raise our profile in schools, colleges and universities.

Lynne Griffiths, Founder and CEO, Sirius Talent Solutions

I love working in travel because no two days are the same. When I started out, we had so much fun and lots of travel opportunities. It is a people business and we are very sociable with teamwork at the heart of what we do. It takes everyone to make it tick and that’s why business travel is such an amazing industry.

Suzanne Horner, CEO, Gray Dawes Group

Travel is my life, if you love what you do, it does not feel like a job. I love working with people, solving problems, developing others, driving change, winning and travel is a world where you can achieve all of that. My career –  in fact my life – has been travel and I would love to support and encourage as many people as possible to have a career like mine. I am very privileged and I owe it to the industry.

Dani Ives, Partnership Project Manager, Focus Travel Partnership

What I love most about working in this industry is the people. It is such a lively social industry. You get to speak with so many companies and cultures. Also I’ve got to travel the world and share that with family and friends. That is simply amazing.

Karen McKenna, VP Global Marketing, TakeTwo Travel Solutions

I would like to inspire a new generation to join our sector, but most importantly to inspire those already here to want more and demand more in terms of personal and professional development. I also hope that all those companies making commitments about Diversity & Inclusion not only look at recruits, but most importantly develop and promote these groups from existing staff. Travel has always attracted a lot of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, both of which have been massively under-represented in the board rooms. I want to help change this and to do what I can to change the lip-service being paid to DE&I generally.

Carol Peter, Consultant, Festive Road

When I did my course at college it was still focussed on the leisure side of the business. It didn’t showcase the travel industry as a professional career. I think the industry could be presented better, like roles within other professional industry services.

Samantha McKnight, General Manager, CIBT

We need to be part of the education process. Even those who study travel, tourism or even transport typically don’t know anything about the travel industry. We don’t need specialist qualifications but we need to be part of the conversation. Generalist roles whether HR, finance or digital roles such as systems architecture can all be part of the travel ecosystem once they know it’s an option.

Sarah Maia, PR/Media Relations Manager, Agiito

The business travel industry needs to share the same space and platform as those of the leisure travel side to show people that there is a different side to ‘business travel’. Whenever spokespeople are selected for travel matters, the voices of the business travel industry should be heard, not just leisure travel. We are currently working on a campaign to showcase the real face of business travel – i.e. not just ‘first class’ tickets and ‘men in suits’ but the everyday workers to help change wider opinions. I also think learning about the disciplines involved in the corporate side to managing travel as potential career opportunities at college/university-level education would also raise the profile.

Guy Snelgar, Global Business Travel Director, The Advantage Travel Partnership

I think those of us involved in travel management need to try to do more to raise the importance of what we do to our corporate customer across their whole business, not just to the travel or procurement manager. Secondly we need to be more visible to those starting their careers in travel generally. The industry needs to talk about itself, get in front of people looking at career in travel and explain what we do and how varied, fast-moving and diverse business travel is. Currently I think many studying travel and tourism think they have two real paths open – leisure travel or hospitality.  We need to get business travel into that discussion and help potential talent understand the sort of roles that could be open to them.

Steve Banks, Chief Commercial Officer, Agiito

I don’t feel the business travel industry is as cohesive as it could be and rivalry amongst agents and ‘smoke and mirrors’ can distort the true value. I want to be an ambassador to share my enthusiasm and experience in the sector, transferring this into tangible career paths for fellow industry professionals

Julie Cope, Managing Director, TakeTwo Travel Solutions

When I started in travel one of the key drivers for me what that I loved to travel and see the world.  There used to be great deals for agents and that was a massive attraction for a lot of people to join. We need to get back to that and introduce more agent rates and bring back fam trips.  These opportunities have decreased dramatically over the years, so it’s a good time to resurrect these incentives to attract new people to our sector. I am a very positive person who just loves this industry.  It’s been kind to me and provided me with a very fruitful career.  I would love to bring my positivity to new people who want to join our industry.