Last week I wrote about the invisibility of corporate travel. I really appreciated all your likes, shares, comments and messages. They’ve encouraged me to push on and turn the spotlight on this industry. Because we need to have understanding, funding, education and our rightful place in the business world.

But what does it actually mean if corporate travel is acknowledged as an industry? Let’s look at how perfect (or utopian) the world could be. Put on those rose-coloured glasses everyone!

Corporate travel is worth about 1/3 of overall tourism spend. That’s spend. It doesn’t include all the support functions and technologies we’re working with every day. What I’m trying to say is this: our industry is big. Big enough to earn a seat at the table: not as a service taken for granted, but as valued partner.

When that happens, we’ll all have smiles on our faces and work will seem like a pleasure cruise.

Well, maybe not quite that romantic, but it’s a fact that when there’s understanding it’s much easier to get engagement, sponsorship, support, resources and even funding. So let’s take a look at who needs to understand what to get us on that pleasure cruise:

Management needs to understand that travel is a growth enabler. All businesses need to maintain relationships, develop and sell their products and services, research and gain knowledge at conferences, meetings and events and educate their own staff. In the globalized working environment of today that means travel is a must. True, virtual options exist and are essential in the day-to-day work, but they can’t fully substitute for face-to-face (yet).

Travel managers need to appreciate their own value and the expertise they’re bringing to the role. They should try to step away from the day-to-day operations and embrace a strategic position: aligning the travel programme to company goals. Raising their hand at the board-meeting to point out synergies or new partnership opportunities will help others appreciate their value too.

Travellers need to understand why there needs to be a travel programme and policy. They need to take responsibility for their own safeguarding. Knowing about corporate travel as an industry will increase their confidence in sticking to the programme – and worrying about their actual day jobs rather than spending time to find travel cheaper elsewhere.

Finally, the world needs to understand that corporate travel is not just about booking a ticket and a hotel room. We’re here for the purpose of furthering businesses. We’re here to give people job opportunities, including a huge playing field for new innovation.

This is achievable. We can make this change happen – together. It’s time to take off our rose-coloured glasses and get to work!

Travel Managers: Working in the Light

By now you’re well aware that my passion is bringing corporate travel into the light. To be acknowledged as an industry. So today, let’s have a look at what a world would look like for travel managers if we were already there: at the table of the big industries.

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