NBTA Survey: More Travel Buyers Planning Meetings

Travel buyers' duties increasingly have gone outside of the traditional travel silo, according to a new National Business Travel Association Foundation survey, which found that almost half of travel buyers—49 percent of them—also are planning meetings, while 23 percent are handling employee relocation services and 20 percent emergency evacuation procedures.

Even with an expansion of job responsibilities in the past year, however, average travel buyer compensation packages have taken a hit as some companies reacting to the receding economy froze salaries, issued pay cuts and restricted benefits, according to the survey, the 2009 Travel Management Compensation and Benefits Survey.

The survey of 274 travel buyer respondents found that average compensation decreased 5.6 percent year-over-year to $91,954, including salary, bonus and commissions. The decrease was driven by the reduction in bonus payments and other benefits as average base salary actually increased 2.1 percent from 2008.

A significant number of travel buyers found themselves doing more with less in 2009 as they added responsibilities outside of travel and lost staff within their own departments. According to the NBTA survey, 22 percent of respondents said their departments had been downsized in the last 10 months. Just under half of respondents said their departments have not been affected by job cuts. The average travel department size of respondents is four staff members.

At least 90 percent of respondents said they managed such core strategic travel management functions as negotiating, administering policy and program strategy planning. While 57 percent of travel buyers said they spend more than three-quarters of their time on travel management, many expanded their work duties.

Fifty-seven percent of buyers said they are responsible for developing travel risk management and security programs. Thirty-eight percent said they are responsible for developing green policies and practices, and 27 percent are tasked with building other corporate social responsibility programs. Nearly half of respondents are now managing corporate card programs and 30 percent are managing T&E expense reporting. Nine percent of respondents are now handling videoconferencing.

Travel managers made up 62.6 percent of the sample, while directors and vice presidents who reported the highest compensation numbers made up 16.5 percent and 4 percent of the survey, respectively. Forty-six percent of respondents manage annual domestic T&E volumes of more than $15 million. On average, respondents had 15 years of experience.

Finance is the department to which the largest percentage of respondents, at 29 percent, report. Seventeen percent report to purchasing, 12.5 percent to human resources and 9.5 percent to strategic sourcing.

—Nielsen Business Media