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A quick glance at the top line of this year's BTN Travel Manager Salary & Attitude
Survey shows a surprisingly ugly result for U.S. travel managers: The average
compensation package for travel buyers dropped 4.7 percent from last year's
survey. That figure has little precedent in the 29 years that BTN has polled readers as to their
overall compensation; it's only the second time in the past 17 years that the
year-over-year average has dropped. But top lines can deceive, and a deeper
look at this year's data raises the opposite conclusion: It was a strong year
for buyer compensation, especially in light of a sluggish U.S. job market.
[Please click here to view the digital edition of the 2012 Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey, featuring all charted data, downloadable as a pdf.]
The 224 business travel buyers who provided salary
information for this year's BTN
survey on average reported that their total compensation increased by 5
percent, a shade below the 5.5 percent increase calculated in last year's
survey but historically higher than typical increases recorded in this survey.
Only 4 percent saw their compensation decrease this year.
Why the disparity? Much of it appears to lie in differences
between the 2011 and 2012 survey samples of those respondents with the specific
title of "travel director." In the 2011 survey, those respondents
reported average compensation of almost $155,000 in total compensation. This
year it's only $128,904, but those respondents reported an average 2.1 percent
year-over-year increase in their compensation.
Those respondents with the title of travel manager—the
largest subset of respondents—reported a total annual compensation package of
$98,082, slightly lower than in last year's report but about 5.2 percent higher
than what this year's sample indicated they received in the prior year.
The entire survey base includes travel managers, travel
directors, travel vice presidents and travel specialists, advisors,
coordinators, analysts and buyers along with purchasing/procurement/sourcing
managers, supervisors and directors; transportation managers, supervisors and
directors; and meetings/conference managers, supervisors, planners and
directors. In aggregate, they reported an average compensation package of
$105,518, actually a bit higher than the $103,912 reported in the 2011 survey
and representing a 5.4 percent increase from their own prior-year compensation.
(For another perspective, the U.K.-based Institute of Travel
& Meetings travel managers association this month released its first member
compensation survey, finding a U.K. annual average of £60,464 in a survey
conduced in March and April. Using an exchange rate of $1.56 for every £1, ITM
noted the similarity of its $94,324 figure with the average annual U.S.
compensation of $96,851 figure included in a December 2010 Global Business
Travel Association survey, leading ITM
to conclude that "the
remuneration of U.K. travel managers is completely in line with that of their
counterparts in the United States.")
Increases in compensation often come hand-in-hand with
increases in workload, and so it is this year with BTN's respondents. In an open-ended question on the greatest change
in their jobs in the past year, several volunteered that they've been charged
with additional duties, including those not related to travel. "With the
success of the travel program in less than four years, I am now being given
broader responsibilities in areas outside travel including communications and
office services and design," wrote one.
The additional workload perhaps is a factor for the
42 percent of total respondents who indicated they believe their compensation
package is low relative to their responsibilities, a figure about the same as
reported last year. About 48 percent
indicated they see their salaries as in line with their responsibilities,
while the remainder indicated they are "paid very well."
About 10 percent of respondents indicated that in the past
two years they've assumed responsibility for T&E card management, the most
frequently cited among a list of job functions offered in the survey. About 9
percent each noted new responsibilities for their companies' intranet travel
site and travel data warehouse.
Meetings management led among functions in which respondents
do not currently manage but expect to within the next two years. About 13
percent expect to add strategic meetings program management to their professional
repertoires, while 12 percent expect to receive responsibility for meetings
logistics management. Some analysts see a correlation between corporate
interest in strategic meetings management—the multi-pronged approach that
blends policy and technology implementation with advanced sourcing
practices—and overall economic weakness; the uncertain economy could drive more
attention to meetings cost control.
Interestingly, fewer respondents (13 percent) currently
manage videoconferencing services (often included in meetings demand-management
strategies) than any other offered function. While meetings and travel managers
sometimes are involved in the determination of any policy that directs meeting
stakeholders to use remote conferencing services instead of planning a live
event, management responsibility for the technology itself typically resides
outside travel and meetings departments, often in IT or facilities. However, an
additional 7 percent of respondents expect more videoconferencing responsibility
Other functions respondents expect to newly manage include
online expense reporting (10 percent)—perhaps driven by increasing adoption of
web-based expense management measures in lieu of spreadsheets and the growing
convergence between online booking tools and expense management platforms—as
well as traveler security (10 percent) and traveler tracking technology (9
percent). Attention to travel risk management certainly has grown in the past
decade with each act of terror, spate of political unrest, natural disaster or
changing liability regulation, but only 52 percent of respondents report they
currently manage traveler security.
Meanwhile, only 15 percent and 14 percent of respondents,
respectively, manage mobile phone contracts and "mobility services,"
but an additional 10 percent expect to manage the latter by 2014. About 5
percent expect more mobile phone contract management. Mobile technology is
perhaps the most rapidly evolving aspect of travel management, with a mounting
number of apps targeting business travelers and many companies still weighing
the best ways to handle them, in terms of allowable downloads and policies
governing their use.
More than nine in 10 respondents still manage traditional
areas like airline and hotel relationships, with slightly fewer maintaining
responsibility for policy creation and enforcement. Respondents may not feel a
commensurate increase in recognition along with increased workload: 29 percent
of them indicated that they are not well-recognized within their organizations
for their professional efforts, up from 21 percent last year. Half indicated
such recognition is adequate, while the remaining 21 percent consider
themselves very well-recognized.
Looking Toward 2014
Survey respondents may be assuming additional
responsibilities outside the traditional travel realm, but by and large they
still see travel management as the home for their professional futures. Only 3
percent of respondents indicated that in two years they expect to be employed
by the same organization but in a "a largely non-travel-related position,"
a figure that was 11 percent in last year's survey.
A 42 percent plurality of respondents expect to be in the
same position with the same organization—up from 32 percent last year—and 32
percent expect a promotion to a more advanced travel-related position. About 18
percent of respondents expect to be employed by a different organization, with
about half of them expecting to be in a similar position.
Business Travel News'
29th annual Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey measures compensation
and analyzes perceptions among corporate travel professionals. It compares
current salaries to previous years, determines how compensation is derived and
shares sentiments from those buying and managing corporate travel.
For the 2012 edition, invitation emails were sent to all
qualified subscribers of Business Travel
News and other publications from The BTN Group, including Travel Procurement, Travel Management and The
Transnational. For further qualification, respondents were asked to
describe their position. Those who met the criteria indicated they were
involved in setting corporate travel policies; managing business travel cost
controls; selecting or recommending business travel suppliers; planning,
arranging or approving business travel for individuals; negotiating meeting
rates; or selecting or recommending meeting facilities and destinations. Those
respondents indicating no such responsibilities were disqualified.
A total of 245 qualified respondents sufficiently completed
an online survey questionnaire, though not every respondent answered every
Of the 245 respondents, 98 were travel managers or
supervisors, 30 were travel directors and 21 were travel specialists, advisors,
coordinators, analysts or buyers. The remainder included vice presidents;
purchasing/procurement/sourcing managers, supervisors and directors;
transportation managers, supervisors and directors; and meetings/conference
managers, supervisors, planners and directors. Of the total, 63 percent were
About 28 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.
More than 55 percent of all respondents indicated they held
none of the 10 industry certifications listed in the questionnaire. The
certification held by more than any other by far was Certified Corporate Travel
Executive, with 14 percent of the survey base.
Polled travel professionals represented organizations with a
wide range of travel expenditures from a broad sampling of industries.
Manufacturing (15 percent), finance/insurance (11 percent), technology (11
percent) and pharmaceuticals/medical (7 percent) were the most heavily
represented sectors. About 31 percent indicated their 2011 spending on
U.S.-booked air travel was less than $2 million while 18 percent reported that
it was more than $20 million. About 36 percent of respondents pegged their
organizations' U.S. air spending between $2 million and $12 million.
SurveyMonkey to collect and tabulate responses.
originally appeared in the July 23, 2012, issue of Business Travel News.