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Travel Managers Dish on Salaries, Structure, and Satisfaction

GBTA/Cvent survey respondents, the majority of whom have some meeting responsibilities, cite moderate pay raises in 2023 as well as high job satisfaction—but also an inclination towards finding a similar role in another organization.

According to a recently released survey report from the Global Business Travel Association and Cvent, the median salary for a corporate travel manager in the United States and Canada rose year over year from $113,500 to $117,500, or 3.5 percent. While that’s a decent bump, it is considerably lower than the rate of inflation in the U.S. when the survey was conducted in February 2023: 6.0 percent. Meanwhile, travel managers at European-based companies saw their median salary rise to 70,000 Euros from 68,500 Euros, a boost of 1.9 percent.

The report, titled “The Life and Times of a Corporate Travel Manager: Career Reflections and the Evolving Role,” came from the responses of 275 corporate travel managers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe
, 61 percent of whom have meetings management as part of their jobs. Further, three-quarters of the respondents were women.

A considerable segment of corporate travel managers, 45 percent, previously held a job in procurement, finance, or accounting that did not involve working on travel. In terms of job responsibilities within the travel department, 47 percent of respondents say that their team is populated by “jacks of all trades” who handle a wide variety of duties, while 26 percent have teams with specialized roles such as handling RFPs and contracts, overseeing travel-vendor relationships, and managing technology. Another 18 percent say their staff comprises a combination of generalists and specialists.

As for where their team reports into, 39 percent say procurement; 18 percent say finance/accounting; 14 percent say shared services; 12 percent say human resources; and six percent say that their team is a stand-alone department that answers directly to the C-suite.

Job Satisfaction: A Double-Edged Sword
The good news is that 89 percent of respondents have a favorable view of their role. Specifically, 31 percent of respondents say they “love working in travel management,” while another 58 percent say they “like working in travel management.” Part of that stems from the fact that 81 percent feel they have either “great” or “decent” work/life balance. The other 19 percent of respondents feel their work/life balance either needs some improvement or is simply "terrible,” in that they work too many hours and cannot take sufficient vacation or personal time because the job is too demanding.

Related Reading: Does Your Staff Share Salary Info?

Although the satisfaction of respondents with their work is rather high, their satisfaction with their employer is notably lower. The proof: While just 26 percent of respondents would consider switching to a field other than travel management, 47 percent would consider leaving their current job for the same role at another company, while 33 percent would consider leaving their current job to work at a dedicated travel-management company.

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