February 26, 2021

Travel managers told to reskill to survive

By Bev Fearis, published 9/12/20

Travel managers were advised to steer their future careers in a different direction post-pandemic at yesterday’s ITM Trends Summit.

Travel management expert Scott Gillespie, CEO of tClara Advisory Services, said many travel managers and buyers risk losing their jobs unless they can adapt to a new environment where virtual meetings will replace many business trips.

According to Gillespie, the managed travel industry post-Covid will be much smaller and its future will be tied to the merits of meeting in person.

He said travel programmes will shift to a traveller-first mentality and corporates will need to be convinced of the need for face-to-face meetings.

Companies will also need help managing the balance between too little and too much travel, recognising when an in-person meeting will have a better outcome.

He said travel buyers were well placed to take on this role, advising senior management teams on how to maximise traveller success rather than minimise travel spend.

Instead of measuring savings and discounts, the new priority will be measuring and predicting trip success, he explained.

Gillespie suggested becoming a ‘Travel Strategist’, advising senior executives on how to know if their company is travelling too much or not enough.

“Virtual meetings have a significant hidden cost,” said Gillespie. “There is a risk of not getting the outcome you want from your meeting.”

Travel managers could also consider widening their role to cover the effectiveness of all meetings, not just those needing travel.

This could include advising companies on whether to choose a virtual, hybrid or in-person meeting, the best venues and technologies, the emergence of AI-powered meeting tools and the application of meeting science.

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