Like most of us, corporate travel managers can divide their careers into two distinct eras: before COVID and after COVID. And like most professions, the ongoing adjustments for travel managers to their responsibilities, compensation, and job satisfaction reflect an industry that’s ripe for change while still adhering to some past truths.
This is according to a new report – “The Life and Times of a Corporate Travel Manager: Travel Manager Reflections on Their Career and the Evolving Role” – made possible by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, and Cvent, an industry-leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider.
“Corporate travel managers play a vital part in the success of their organizations and the satisfaction of employee travelers,” said Anil Punyapu, Cvent Senior Vice President of Sales. “But the profession experienced significant disruption during the pandemic with travel restrictions, safety concerns and wild swings in supply and pricing. With business travel rebounding, and many new travel managers in the workforce, we partnered with GBTA to leverage this unique opportunity to understand the evolution of travel managers and how they fit into the dynamic corporate travel structure today, and in the years ahead.”
“The past few years have required navigating unprecedented changes and a new landscape for business travel, and that includes for our industry’s workforce. So it’s essential for us to examine how travel managers fit into this forever-changed world. With this report, by going straight to the source we explore how they view themselves as part of the current and next era of global business travel,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA.
Here are key highlights from the report:
- PAY INCREASING. U.S.-based travel managers said they expect to earn a median salary of $117,500 this year, which represents an increase of 3.5% from 2022. Their European Union counterparts expect to earn on average €70.000 in 2023, which is a 1.9% increase from last year. However, it’s worth mentioning expected salary raises in both regions are not expected to keep pace with inflation rates.
- MULTIPLE ENTRY POINTS. Travel managers have various professional backgrounds and entered the field in different ways. For example, almost half of current travel managers (49%) have prior experience working for a travel supplier such as an airline or hotel. However, more than one-quarter of travel managers (28%) held previous positions in procurement that did not involve travel, and 17% of respondents came from a finance/accounting background.
- DE&I OPPORTUNITIES. There is opportunity to increase representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the travel management field. Of the survey respondents, one in 10 (11%) identified as an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority, including 14% in North America and 3% in Europe. Almost three-quarters (74%) of participating travel managers identified as women. This included 75% in North America and 71% in Europe.
- JOB SATISFACTION. Almost all respondents (90%) said they “like” (58%) or “love” (31%) working in the field. They are satisfied with work-life balance and engagement with their day-to-day responsibilities.
Data collection for the online survey of U.S., Canada and Europe/UK-based travel managers took place in February 2023, with 186 qualifying responses.