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Travel management professionals, at least those currently
employed, seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. Their salaries on
average are higher this year than last year, and most feel they are either paid
very well or fairly for their responsibilities, that their efforts are
adequately or very well-recognized and that compensation will be maintained or
increased in the coming year. Eight in 10 believe travel management industry
employment opportunities are at least as plentiful than they were two years
ago. On the surface, these and other findings from BTN's 30th annual Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey paint
a decent picture for the profession. But a closer examination shows the
inequities of compensation and on-the-job realities between large and small
organizations, perhaps as expected, and between genders, unfortunately also
[Please click here to
view the digital edition of BTN's 2013
Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey, featuring all charted data,
downloadable as a pdf.]
Absolute compensation levels for survey respondents have
moved higher in the past year. Among the 189 respondents who provided figures
for their total 2012 and 2013 compensation packages, the average for this year
was $102,800, up about 3.8 percent from last year. That compares favorably to
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that showed a 1.7 percent average salary,
wage and benefit increase for private industry workers for the 12-month period
through March 2013 and a 1.9 percent increase for state and local government
The average compensation increase among BTN survey respondents also outpaced that of 13 million workers
across 1,500 midsize and large employers surveyed by Mercer. The human
resources consulting firm found that average base pay this year rose 2.8
percent versus 2012 (and is expected to increase another 2.9 percent next
year). "As the economy steadies, so do pay raises for U.S. employees,"
according to a Mercer report issued in July. "Moreover, salary increases
for top-performing employees—about 7 percent of the workforce—will be higher as
companies continue to focus on retaining top talent."
Specifically, for travel specialists, advisors, coordinators,
analysts and buyers responding to the BTN
survey, average compensation increased this year by a larger amount than the
survey average, up 5.6 percent. Travel director respondents experienced a 4.9
increase while travel managers and supervisors saw average compensation rise by
Small Vs. Large
Variances are apparent when analyzing survey results sorted
by the size of the organizations' travel spending. Generally, the less an
organization spends, the smaller the average compensation package for its
travel management staffers. For example, those respondents from organizations
spending less than $2 million annually on U.S.-booked airline tickets have an
average 2013 compensation package of around $80,000, compared to almost
$103,000 at midsize organizations (those with 2012 air spend of $2 million to
$20 million) and nearly $124,000 at the biggest-spending organizations. The
year-over-year changes show a similar pattern, with those at smaller-spending
organizations reporting an average total compensation increase of 3.2 percent
compared with average increases near 4.3 percent each for midsize and large
Differences don't stop there. Respondents from the smallest
firms on average had bonuses and incentives that accounted for the smallest
portion of their total compensation package (4.5 percent), as compared with
those from midsize (7.2 percent) and large organizations (9.7 percent). Those
from larger organizations also were more than twice as likely as those from the
smallest organizations to have bonuses tied to departmental performance, nearly
three times as likely to have incentives tied in and 10 times more likely to
have stock options tied in.
Though not always the case, larger-spending organizations
are more likely than the smallest ones to deploy sophisticated metrics to
assess travel program performance and therefore travel manager performance. As
such, respondents from larger organizations were more likely than their smaller
counterparts to indicate that compensation is tied to departmental performance.
The largest variance in six performance areas listed in the survey was for the
travel department's contribution to organizational value, for which 16 percent
of small-spending respondents said compensation is tied versus 51 percent of
the largest. Those from the biggest spenders also were more than three times as
likely than their peers at the smallest spenders to have compensation tied to a
formula that considers savings, satisfaction, reporting and strategic
It's also no surprise that travel management professionals
at larger companies—which often require teams of such people—dedicate more time
to travel management than those from smaller companies, who often are asked to
wear many hats. The difference, which helps explain some of the findings
discussed above, is stark: 75 percent of all respondents from organizations
spending less than $2 million on U.S.-booked airline tickets indicated they
devote less than half of their working hours to travel management, compared with
6 percent of those at the biggest-spending organizations who do. At the same
time, 5 percent of small-spend respondents use all their time for travel
management versus 52 percent among the largest.
Male Vs. Female
There are just as many obvious differentials between men and
women in the survey findings. The average compensation for female respondents
this year was $93,237, 23 percent lower than that of male respondents. (One
logical explanation could be that men may be more likely to hold higher positions
within their organizations, and therefore get paid more on average, but the
proportion of male respondents indicating they are owners, CEOs, CFOs, COOs,
presidents or vice presidents was not significantly higher than that of
females: 10.9 percent versus 7.2 percent.) While the difference in compensation
is smaller than in last year's survey (which did not poll all of the same
respondents, and found a 35 percent gap), this year's female respondents on
average said compensation is 3.6 percent higher than in 2012. Males
on average indicated a 4.7 percent increase.
Many female respondents of course find that unfair: 48
percent said their salary is low relative to their responsibilities versus 31
percent of males who indicated as such.
The disparity extends to bonuses and incentives, which on
average account for 5 percent of women's total compensation package compared to
nearly 12 percent for men. And just over half of all female respondents said
they receive no bonuses, incentives or stock options based on departmental
performance versus 39 percent of males receiving none.
Female respondents as a group also were less optimistic
about compensation than men, as 32 percent said they think travel management
professionals' salaries during the coming year will increase, compared with 47
percent of men who expect higher salaries within the profession.
However, perceptions of how well on-the-job efforts are
recognized within their organizations are fairly consistent across all
respondents. About half of all those polled said their efforts are adequately
recognized, as did about half of males, females and respondents from small,
midsize and large organizations.
Still, there are diverse opinions. "Travel is not a
revenue source, but an expense, and travel managers' value is not fully
understood or quantified by management," wrote one survey respondent.
According to another, there is "poor acknowledgement of leadership on this
position's contribution and ability to reduce travel costs." Yet, a third
respondent wrote that "management is beginning to understand the impact
travel has on the bottom line. I see our responsibilities growing."
Across the entire survey base, the areas of responsibility
cited most frequently relate to the familiar travel program tasks of managing
(or negotiating for) lodging, air travel, car rental, travel policies, travel
agencies and online booking—each indicated by no fewer than eight in 10
respondents. New responsibilities picked up within the past two years by the
largest number of respondents are strategic meetings management (indicated by
13 percent), meeting planning and logistics (11 percent) and the corporate
travel intranet site (10 percent).
Meetings also feature prominently on the list of
responsibilities respondents expect to add to their plates in the coming two
years, including strategic meetings management (indicated by 15 percent) and
meeting planning and logistics (11 percent). Other leading areas in which
survey respondents anticipate their future involvement include online expense
reporting (14 percent), mobile technology and services (14 percent),
procurement card programs (10 percent) and risk management—traveler tracking
software (18 percent) and traveler security (14 percent).
Answering an open-ended question on the biggest recent
changes to their jobs, several wrote about travel risk management or traveler
safety and security, while others noted new travel-related tasks, such as fleet
management, corporate dining programs, relocation and short-term housing, and
some cited new responsibilities unrelated to travel.
According to one respondent, the overall discipline of
travel management "requires a unique skill set, and if the manager can
prove his/her worth to the organization he/she will have a great deal of
leverage. Also, with travel risk management being a hot topic, it introduces an
entire new area of expertise that the travel manager can provide to his/her
Meanwhile, the prevalence of industry certifications among
travel management professionals appears to be gaining no ground. Fifty-seven
percent of all respondents indicated they held no such certifications, up
slightly from last year's survey. The Global Business Travel Association's
Global Travel Professional designation, which didn't exist until a few years
ago, was the most cited at just 9 percent.
Traditionally popular among
travel management professionals, GBTA's Certified Corporate Travel Executive
is help by 8 percent of survey respondents, down from 14 percent in the 2012
survey, likely a direct result of GBTA no longer issuing that designation. Six
percent of survey respondents indicated they hold the Corporate Travel Expert
certification. No other certification received more than a 5 percent response
Business Travel News'
30th annual Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey measures compensation
and analyzes perceptions among corporate travel professionals. It compares
current salaries to the previous year, determines how compensation is derived
and shares sentiments from those buying and managing corporate travel.
For the 2013 edition, invitation emails were sent to all
qualified subscribers (those with travel manager, travel buyer or related
titles) of Business Travel News and
other publications from The BTN Group, including Travel Procurement, Travel
Management and The Transnational.
Qualified respondents indicated they are involved in setting corporate
policies; managing business travel cost controls; selecting or recommending
business travel suppliers; negotiating rates for meetings; selecting or
recommending meeting facilities and destinations; and/or planning, arranging or
approving business travel for individuals.
A total of 200 qualified respondents (65 percent female/35
percent male) sufficiently completed an online survey questionnaire, though not
every respondent answered every question. The 189 who provided a job title
comprised travel managers and supervisors (83); travel directors; travel
specialists, advisors, coordinators, analysts and buyers (25);
purchasing/procurement/sourcing executives (12); meetings managers and
supervisors (6); vice presidents (5); owners (5); presidents (4); CEOs, CFOs
and COOs (4); meet-
ing/conference planners and coordinators (1); and
others including executive and administrative assistants, human resources
managers, supply chain managers and commodity managers (30).
About 29 percent of all respondents indicated they spend 100
percent of their work time on travel management. More than six in 10
respondents said they spend at least half their time on travel management.
The survey found that travel management resides in a range
of departments at respondent organizations, with
purchasing/procurement/strategic sourcing the most cited (36 percent), followed
by finance (26 percent), administration (10 percent) and human resources (9
Polled travel professionals represented organizations from a
broad sampling of more than 18 industry sectors. Manufacturing was the most
well-represented industry sector (19 percent of the survey base), followed by
finance/insurance (12 percent) and technology 11 percent. Among represented
organizations, 29 percent had annual U.S.-booked air travel expenditures under
$2 million, 34 percent had such expenditures of between $2 million and $12
million, 10 percent had between $13 million and $29 million, and the remaining
28 percent were above $20 million.
SurveyMonkey to collect and tabulate responses.
This report originally
appeared in the Aug. 5, 2013, edition of Business
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