The Institute of Travel Management’s (ITM) buyer members are facing enormous pressure within their organisations due to ongoing post-Covid supply chain disruption and major service issues across the industry. Frustrated travellers, bookers and stakeholders are placing unrealistic expectations on travel managers to find ways of fixing the service failures. Many buyers are seeing record amounts of leakage and out-of-policy bookings. Some buyers are even being questioned about the validity of their company’s travel programme and choice of suppliers.
As a result, ITM’s ‘Future Role of The Travel Manager’ taskforce has pivoted its focus to support the buyer community with the stark reality of their current day-to-day roles. The taskforce was established earlier this year with the aim of helping buyers retain their elevated status gained during the pandemic and re-enforce the long-term strategic importance of the travel manager role. However during recent discussions, the taskforce, which consists of 12 ITM buyer members from diverse industry sectors, recognised that there is an urgent need to provide travel managers with practical guidance on how to navigate the current situation.
Steps being taken by ITM include a workshop exclusively for buyer members entitled ‘Controlling the Controllables’ (on December 1st, 2022), with expert insights provided by Louise Kilgannon of FESTIVE ROAD, which will move through three key areas of discussion. This includes the current state of play (what are buyers experiencing, travellers and bookers feeling, both internally and externally); the positive or negative impact of any current measures being taken; and identifying actions that buyers can take to manage organisational expectations of business travel post-Covid.
Kerry Douglas, Head of Programme, ITM explained: “Our buyer members recognise that the industry is doing its very best to meet demand for travel that has returned with vigour, but the ecosystems, infrastructure, resource and service levels are just not able to meet the current business traveller’s needs. There is a strong sense that the eco-system is struggling and for those returning to travel much of what they experience will be unrecognisable to pre-Covid days of smooth and simple business trips.
“Internally, for many buyers, stakeholders are becoming increasingly frustrated with service failures and patience is running out. Travel managers are being pulled further and further into the operational challenges and being forced into a position of trying to defend the very basics of their travel programme and supply base which is a far reach from what they want to be doing in bringing strategic value to the company,” she added.
“With the industry ecosystem in its current state, and no clear indication of when things may improve, our Future Role of the Travel Manager taskforce has switched focus to supporting the buyer community with the current very real challenges they are facing, to help rebalance operational noise, lead internal conversations and move towards controlling those areas that can be controlled,” said Douglas.