Today’s busy travel managers have a growing number of new responsibilities added to their job description.  I was speaking with a colleague the other day who remarked on how many companies are choosing to outsource management of their travel and moving away from internal ownership of the program. Now I do not believe that the role of a corporate travel manager will fade anytime soon. However, a shift in focus, training and skills required to do the job has been shape-shifting over the past few years, especially with the introduction of new technology and mobile. According to a new study by the GBTA Foundation, “Travel managers report that mobility, virtual payments, and data are helping to transform their roles and responsibilities.”

The three critical areas of mobile, payments and data have always been very near and dear to the core of what Cornerstone is about. The GBTA study states that 86 percent of travel managers, reported having responsibilities related to selecting or implementing technology, such as online booking tools, mobile solutions or other travel technology software. Managing this aspect of a company’s business is a full-time job on its own, so it is not surprising that outsourcing to a third party is attractive given the complexity of the procurement process of these tools.

The evolution of virtual payments has reduced the stress for both the road warrior and the company reconciling expenses. With an expected increase in this technology in the near future, over a third of internal managers claim they are running into challenges keeping up with the evolving technology. One solution for aligning the expenses of business travel is to utilize the data that a TMC can provide.

Speaking of data, the value of receiving and analyzing relevant data is invaluable. There are so many types of applications that report data, many who do not communicate with each other, that the process itself has become overwhelming.  Numerous reports show that analyzing data is one of the most time-consuming activities in the daily role of a corporate travel manager. Data retrieval and the dissecting of relevant information may be best suited to outsourcing especially if the TMC has an excellent tool like TravelOptix™! (Ok I could not resist but really, it is worth looking at whether you are a TMC or a Corporate Travel Manager)

The bottom line is managing a company’s travel policy is a complex undertaking that is probably best suited when balanced between internal and outside resources. The pace at which mobile applications, virtual payment solutions, and deciphering data keep changing, it’s essential to have a clear alignment between an organization’s business goals and a robust travel program to support those objectives. It has become imperative regardless of who is managing the process.