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More Corporate Travel Department Heads Taking Charge of Meetings Management and Planning

GBTA survey finds a significant increase in travel managers charged with strategic meetings management, risk management, and other responsibilities

Their titles might be Travel Director or Travel Manager, but more and more travel department heads are being charged with meetings management and other tasks, according to recent research from the Global Business Travel Association.

More than half (55 percent) of the travel directors responding to GBTA’s 2012 Travel Management Compensation and Benefits Survey said they are responsible for developing strategic meetings management programs in their companies, and there was a significant increase in travel managers charged with SMMP—42 percent of respondents in 2012 versus 33 percent in the 2011 survey. Meeting planning has also been added to the job responsibilities of an increasing number of respondents: 43 percent of overall respondents said they were responsible for meeting planning in 2012 and 2011, up from 39 percent in 2010.

At Apple Inc., Angie Henderson, global strategic meetings manager, says the SMMP “has always rolled up in to travel, which then reports in to finance. I feel we were one of the first large corporations that designed our meeting program in that fashion a long time ago. My boss, who is the global travel manager, has accountability for me and my team, who oversee all meetings.”

Judy Bauer, global leader, corporate travel, at Marsh & McLennan Companies, was charged with creating her company’s SMMP about two years ago. The company does not have a centralized meeting management department and is not planning to create one. (There are meeting planners in the marketing departments of each of its four operating companies.) She hired consultants to help her accomplish the task, and plans to hire a manager to oversee the SMMP. She estimates that once this is in place, SMM responsibilities will still be 25 percent of her role.

The increasing responsibilities don’t end with meetings. The GBTA survey also found that more travel directors are being asked to created green travel policies—36 percent in 2012 versus 32 percent in 2011. And more travel managers also take on that job—27 percent in 2012 versus 26 percent in 2011.

Another task that has fallen on travel directors is risk management: 68 percent said they are responsible for creating the company’s overall risk management programs in 2012, up from 56 percent in 2011. In addition, more travel directors are being put in charge of their companies’ overall corporate social responsibility programs—26 percent in 2012, up from 22 percent in 2011.

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