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The firestorm of layoffs that charred the corporate travel
industry at the lowest depths of the recession may have cooled, hiring managers
may be warming to the prospect of adding more travel buyers to their employment
rolls, and travel managers' attitudes toward their future, employment and
industry viability may have warmed to pre-downturn levels, but corporate travel's
new Ice Age still holds one aspect of professional management in a deep freeze:
travel managers' salaries, according to Business
Travel News' 27th annual Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey.
(Click here to download BTN's entire 2010 Travel
Manager Salary & Attitude Survey as a pdf.)
About 44 percent—an all-time high in this survey—of the 197
travel buyer respondents said they received no pay raise at all in 2009, six
percentage points higher than last year's then-record total. The compensation
includes salary, bonuses and incentives.
While there was a gender gap in the responses, the freeze
did not discriminate by job title, as 48 percent of travel directors and vice
presidents surveyed did not see their compensation increase, versus 42 percent
of those respondents with other titles. However, 47 percent of female
respondents received no raise, but only 37 percent of male respondents reported
that they felt the freeze.
Respondents' frustration with the new Ice Age was clear. "I
added more responsibilities with no pay increase in two years due to the
economy," said one travel buyer to an open-ended question that asked
respondents for the biggest change in their jobs in the past 12 months. "Huge
staff reductions result in extra responsibilities and no extra compensation,"
responded another buyer. "Profits before people."
"We have not seen salaries increase," according to
Penfold. "We have seen they are very steady and stagnant."
Things may be tough out there, but they're tough all over.
For example, the median raise this year for information technology
professionals surveyed by InformationWeek magazine was zero, and 40 percent of
those respondents did not get a raise, on top of 15 percent who received a pay
Some human resources consulting firms see some loosening in
overall compensation trends. Lincolnshire, Ill.-based HR outsourcing and
consulting firm Hewitt Associates sees the possibility of a slight rebound in
overall salary increases throughout the world this year, although one that
pales in comparison to pre-recession years. "While employees around the
world will see a slight increase in salary adjustments for 2010, they shouldn't
expect these increases to return to prior levels anytime soon," said
Shekhar Purohit, Hewitt's global compensation consulting leader.
In 2011, the median salary increase across all industries is
projected to be 3 percent by New York-based research firm The Conference Board,
up from 2.5 percent increases this year and last.
"This less-than-robust increase is an indication that
the economic recovery has not yet picked up enough strength to significantly
raise salary budgets to a level consistent with a healthy economy," said
The Conference Board human capital researcher Christopher Woock.
According to Business
Travel News' survey, the median increase of all travel buyers from Jan. 1,
2009, to Jan. 1, 2010, was 2 percent, not quite to the level of The Conference
Board's overall corporate figures. The average, including respondents who
received no raise, was about 2.9 percent, just a shade higher than the 2.8
percent increase buyers reported last year.
However, the average salary of travel managers—including
vice presidents and directors—was $106,543, only 1.4 percent higher than last
year. When all buyer respondents are figured into the equation, an average
$99,290 salary was only 1.2 percent higher.
Still, there are signs that respondents believe that the
worst of the recession's impact on their professional futures has passed. For
example, 33 percent of travel manager respondents said they believe that
corporate travel industry salaries on the whole will increase in the next 12
months—not exactly brimming with optimism, but a far cry from this time last year,
when only 13 percent of respondents felt that way.
Similarly, only 4 percent of respondents expect salaries
will drop in the coming year, but 20 percent thought so last year—incorrectly,
it turns out. In fact, these 2010 industry salary projections are almost
identical to the figures in the 2008 BTN Salary & Attitude Survey, compiled
only a few months before Lehman Brothers' collapse.
"It's looking much better. We're seeing more hiring,"
Meetingjobs' Penfold said. "To give you an example, last year in July, we
had five job postings listed. This July, 30 were put up."
Penfold pointed to financial companies, "they were the
first to lay off, and now they're the first to hire," and third-party
meetings management firms that service pharmaceutical clients as sectors of
notable job growth.
"The pace of layoffs and cutbacks has declined
substantially," Penfold said. "Companies can't get any leaner at this
point." Even companies that still are cutting heads aren't doing so as
widely. "They may say ‘layoff,' but it's usually for other reasons,"
she said. "There aren't bloodbaths."
Some third parties like corporate travel and meetings
management companies are hiring travel professionals, according to Penfold, as
the pace of travel outsourcing across all sectors increases. The deep pool of
travel and meetings professionals looking for work, though, means that finding
a job remains challenging.
"Hiring officials are being very picky," Penfold
said, citing instances in which firms seek extensive industry experience for
relatively low-paying positions. "Quite a few people have left the
Business Travel News'
Travel Manager Salary & Attitude Survey is an annual measure of the
opinions and compensation of a wide variety of corporate travel professionals.
For the 2010 edition—BTN's
27th—197 travel professionals this spring visited a secure Web site at BTN's e-mailed request to answer a
survey questionnaire. Not every respondent answered every question, and chart
totals do not always total 100 percent due to rounding.
About 42 percent of the respondents were travel managers or
supervisors, 17 percent were travel directors, 7 percent were vice presidents,
16 percent were travel specialists, advisors, coordinators or analysts, 12
percent were purchasing, procurement, sourcing or transportation managers,
supervisors or directors, 1 percent were meeting managers or supervisors, 3
percent were meeting or conference planners or coordinators and 2 percent fell
into the "other" category.
The typical travel buyer respondent had around 15 years of
travel management experience. Nearly 72 percent of buyer respondents were female.
In this survey, "travel buyers" includes all
qualified respondents; "travel managers" is a subset of "travel
"Travel manager"—unless otherwise specified—refers
to the approximately 66 percent of respondents with the titles of travel manager,
supervisor, vice president or director. Of those respondents who are classified
as "travel managers," about 11 percent were travel vice presidents,
about 26 percent were travel directors, and about 63 percent held travel
manager or travel supervisor titles.
BTN art director
Jonathan Chan designed all charts;executive
managing editor Chris Davis wrote all captions. BTN used SurveyMonkey.com to collect and tabulate responses.
This story originally
appeared in the August 9, 2010, edition of Business Travel News.