Business travel is changing and many of the jobs available now did not exist five years ago.
Analysing air spend for clients and producing management information for customers, for example, is now a major part of a consultant’s job.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel human resources director Sue Kavanagh said: “As the business changes the customer demand is changing and we are having to create new roles.
“The customer now wants a business consultancy service. This is something they could not get online.”
As a result, business travel companies are recruiting from outside the sector and leisure agents are in a prime position to move into the sector.
“We are looking for people who have a travel background, then we will teach them the relevant skills needed,” said Kavanagh.
Advantage director of business travel Norman Gage agreed.
“Skills have definitely changed. More electronic tools are being bought and it is necessary to have more productivity per member of staff,” he said.
The 10 business travel skills
by Lisa James
1. Ability to embrace change
Business travel is constantly evolving and agents need to have a “change in mindset” if they want to be successful, according to Advantage business development director Norman Gage. “You are no longer an agent, you don’t earn commission from the airline and you are paid a fee by the corporate,” he said.
2. Sales skills
Agents make have to sell more to make more money these days. “Everyone needs to go to the airport, get a transfer, or book a chaueur,” said Gage.
“When I started as a business travel consultant seven years ago, we only sold published fares,” said T&T Travel Solutions senior recruitment consultant Suzanne Sheri. “Now it has totally changed and it’s all about issuing the cheapest ticket that you can possibly get, which often means split ticketing.”
4. A sense of humour
This is essential for dealing with demanding clients, according to trainee business travel consultant Steve Cliord, who works at FCm Travel Solutions in Manchester.
5. Technical know-how
Clients’ demand for the cheapest fare means it’s no longer acceptable to book the first fare you see. Consultants will have to go to dierent places to compare.
6. Language skills
A second language is desirable if you work for a company that deals with a specialist market, a 24-hour help desk, or if your company oers secondments overseas.
7. Ability to see the bigger picture
If you want to climb up the ladder, it’s important to understand how the dierent departments in your company work together.
8. Excellent customer service
Carlson Wagonlit Travel training manager Anthony Gibson said: “Customers’ expectations are now so high and consultants need to work hard if they want to retain the business.”
9. The personal touch
A successful business travel consultant is able to build a rapport with the client. There will also be times when they may feel more like a social worker.
If you’re a clock-watcher, business travel is not the job for you. If it’s Friday at 5.30pm and you have to do a complex itinerary, you just can’t get up and go.
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