Communication strategy for travel managers 

Travel managers must ramp up their communications to influence travelers to make smart decisions amid a whole world of choices.

Today’s business travelers think—and act—like consumers when they’re on the road. So, travel programs looking to change employee habits need to deploy the kind of professional communications strategies used to influence consumers. How can travel managers meet the challenge?

Communication has always been an important part of a travel manager’s job. But now travel managers must ramp up their communications to unprecedented levels of professionalism. They must not only inform travelers, but also influence them to make smart decisions amid a whole world of choices.

The trend is transforming the essence of travel management. Some of the largest companies are beginning to recruit travel team employees with marketing or communications backgrounds. It’s an acknowledgement that communications know-how has moved from a nice-to-have skill to a systematic requirement that’s critical to a travel manager’s day-to-day success.

“It’s reached a whole new level,” says Miriam Moscovici, director of emerging technologies for BCD Travel. “Travel management has become a marketing role. It is not just a case any moreof publishing the occasional newsletter to remind travelers which airlines you fly. Communication is now based on proper campaign strategies.”

Moscovici believes travel managers must professionalize their approach to communications if they hope to win over travelers bombarded by consumer travel messages. “Business travelers are being exposed to highly personalized, consumerized marketing through a plethora of planning and shopping tools,” she says. “Travel managers now have to use similar methods to get travelers in line with the goals of the travel program.”

Rising to this new level can appear daunting to travel managers. Travel is such an emotive subject that good people skills and a natural flair for verbal communication are essential assets. However, talking to travelers and other stakeholders is one thing; having the expertise to prepare and deliver a structured marketing campaign is quite another.

Moscovici is confident travel managers can make the step up. “New skills may well be required, but they join a long list of new roles travel managers have successfully assumed in recent years,” she says.

And while larger travel teams are deliberately seeking communications capabilities in their new hires, there is help at hand for experienced travel management teams that must learn new skills. Moscovici suggests travel managers work more closely with marketing communications department in their own companies, and also seek assistance from travel partners.

BCD Travel has formulated a four-phase process to help travel managers develop a strategic communications strategy.

  • Phase 1—Establish travel program communication goals and key messages.
  • Phase 2—Survey your communications assets. Explore new tools and processes.
  • Phase 3—Map selected communications assets to goals and messaging.
  • Phase 4—Develop an execution and maintenance plan.

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