Tuesday 6 December 2011


In this month's Executive Secretary (the essential training resource for senior and aspiring administrative professionals) we contributed a feature on how to create a managed travel programme. 

Below is a taster. To subscribe to the magazine and read the full article, please visit the website 

"Many buyers of business travel fall into it by accident and, recently, this has included an increasing number of executive secretaries who have found themselves suddenly responsible for this complex purchasing function. If you are one of many new to buying business travel and don’t quite know where to start, this guide will explain what a business travel programme should look like and how to shape one from scratch, highlighting the essentials of travel buying as well as common pitfalls.

A managed travel programme is when a business takes a strategic approach to managing travel, as it would with any other controllable expense, and this benefits you with cost savings, transparency, compliance, process improvements and traveller safety and security.

The five phases

Buying and managing travel can be broken down into five key phases:

1.      Discovery
2.      Engagement
3.      Purchasing
4.      Implementation
5.      Monitoring


The discovery phase involves a full review of your current solution to identify what is in place, what works well, and where improvements can be made. It should focus on identifying spend/volume, incumbent suppliers, contractual commitments and stakeholders. A key output should be a benefits analysis, which should be used to obtain executive buy-in.There are seven steps to work through.

It’s time to engage with the necessary functions and people within your business that are involved/interested in, or have responsibility for, travel. Doing this early on makes it easier to achieve their buy in. Including stakeholders in a working party, which has a hand in making decisions, will help cross functional implementation in Phase 4.


This is when you identify potential suppliers, share your requirements and determine the costs you will pay and the service you will receive.

It is important to maximise savings opportunities and this can be achieved by purchasing commodity type elements, e.g., negotiated discounts on core routes within your air programme, or a group/chain discount within your hotel programme. Also consider loyalty programmes, which can add value for your travellers, such as room and flight upgrades, free Wi-Fi and lounge access.


Once you have identified the best suppliers to book and manage your travel, or the best commodity providers, you need to launch this to the business. Your implementation plan must be formed using the skills and resources of the supplier’s implementation manager, you and your stakeholders. Realistic timelines for implementation need to be set with your suppliers and agreed with your internal stakeholders.

Supplier visibility is also very important. This can be readily achieved by holding on site supplier road shows or by taking key bookers to the supplier’s offices. The insight gained and relationship building this achieves is invaluable.


And, finally, one your programme is in place, you need to monitor it."

This guide was written by the Institute of Travel & Meetings and edited by David Chapple for Executive Secretary. David is event director of the Business Travel Show and a director of the Institute of Travel & Meetings (ITM). The Business Travel Show runs 7-8 February 2012 at Earls Court in London. More than 5,000 visitors (10% of which attend from outside the UK) can meet 200+ business travel suppliers and travel management companies, and enjoy a high quality, free to attend conference track designed specifically for PAs and executive secretaries.

The ITM is a not for profit organisation that supports the travel industry. It offers valuable support to buyers of travel and meetings and is currently offering free membership.