Low paid travel managers in Europe


Travel Managers in Europe are paid significantly less than their North American colleagues. This shows a report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and meetings specialist Cvent.

The report is based on a survey of 263 travel buyers in the United States, Canada and Europe. He revealed that travel managers in the EU (excluding the UK) can expect an average salary package of 70,000 euros this year, an increase of 1.9% compared to 2022.

Travel Managers in North America are expected to receive an average salary of USD 117,500, which equates to nearly EUR 110,000. The increase in wages across the Atlantic is also significantly higher at 3.5% compared to last year.

Salary estimates in Europe published in the report are based on travel managers who declared their remuneration in euros, Swedish kroner and Danish kroner. Respondents paid in pounds sterling and Norwegian kroner were excluded because the sample size of these groups was too small. Overall, European travel managers made up 35% of survey participants.

The findings are similar to a 2022 salary comparison study conducted by ITM, Business Travel News Europe notes. This revealed that the average base salary for travel managers in the UK is 65,000 GBP, or around 75,000 EUR. Adding bonuses and additional benefits, according to the ITM study, the average total package amounts to 80,000 GBP, or around 93,000 EUR.

For its part, BTN’s 39th annual survey of travel managers found that total travel manager salaries in the United States will increase slightly in 2022, with an overall average of $128,439 including bonuses and incentives. According to the magazine, this reflects the expanded role of travel managers post-pandemic.

Evolution of wages under inflation

According to the GBTA-Cvent report, salaries for travel managers in North America and Europe are unlikely to keep pace with inflation. This has increased by 6% and up to 8.5% in the 12 months to February 2023. As a result, travel managers are at risk of experiencing a “quite significant loss in purchasing power”, according to the report.

Despite wage differences, job satisfaction is just as high in the transatlantic region. Nine in ten North American travel managers (90%) “like” or “love” their work in this area. There are almost the same number at 88% in Europe, including Britain.

Commenting on the report, GBTA Managing Director Suzanne Neufang said: “In recent years, we have had to adapt to unprecedented change and a new landscape for business travel, and so has employees in our sector. Therefore, it is imperative for us to consider how travel managers fit into this ever-changing world.”

In terms of diversity, things are still blocked

The report also highlights opportunities to increase the representation of racial and ethnic minorities in travel management. Among survey participants, one in ten (11%) identified as an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority. However, the transatlantic difference is large: in North America it is 14%, in Europe only 3%.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of travel managers surveyed say they are women, 75% in North America and 71% in Europe. However, the proportion of women is declining higher up the pay scale, as GBTA annual survey data from 2005 to 2019 reveals a persistent gender pay gap for travel managers in the United States.

In 2019, women represented 74% of travel managers who responded to the survey. But the men’s median salary of $125,000 was 11% higher than the women’s median salary of $112,000.

The latest GBTA-Cvent survey could not draw firm conclusions on this due to “insufficient number of male respondents”. However, men seem to be overrepresented in companies with high travel spending, where the likelihood of higher pay is greater.

While only a quarter of all travel managers (24%) are men, two in five travel managers (39%) working in large companies with annual travel spend of at least $30 million are men. This suggests that a gender pay gap still exists, but the report warns that this issue needs further investigation.

Good work-life balance

Regardless of region, travel managers are largely satisfied with their work-life balance. 85% of Europe-based travel managers said their work-life balance was “excellent” or “decent”, compared to 80% of North American-based travel managers.

However, European respondents (54%) are more likely than their North American counterparts (43%) to say they would “definitely” or “probably” consider leaving their current job to work as a travel manager at another company.

The report also shows that travel programs are less valued in Europe. Two in five (41%) of travel managers in the region said executives don’t understand the value of their program, compared to just 26% of travel managers in North America. The lower salary level could also be related to the lack of appreciation.

Another possible reason for this, according to the report, is the fact that travel programs in European companies are more likely to be located in human resources (24%) and purchasing (45%) departments, while ‘in the United States and Canada, business travel management is most likely to be in purchasing (36%), finance and accounting (20%) and shared services (16%), where a CFO may have more influence on the CEO than a human resources director.

Additional results highlight regional differences in the tasks travel managers prefer to perform. Almost a third of Europe-based Travel Managers (29%) indicated that implementing sustainability practices/policies is one of their favorite tasks. This compares to just 5% for North American travel managers.

Analyzing and reporting data (41%) and implementing or managing technology (39%) round out the three most popular tasks for European travel buyers. North American colleagues prefer overseeing the TMC relationship (54%), communicating with travelers (38%) and analyzing data (30%).

(Advice for business trips)

Tristan Lowe

Coffee buff. Web enthusiast. Unapologetic student. Gamer. Avid organizer.

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