Business travellers are high-profile clients and every airline hopes to capture their business. This forms the basis of the work of a business travel manager.
Riza Perdana Kusuma (below), general manager of Garuda Indonesia (Hong Kong and Macau), thinks that the prospects for business travel are bright, as Hong Kong is one of the biggest travel hubs in Asia. "The demand is there, but the market competition is very fierce, which makes the business travel manager's job challenging," he says.
A business travel manager needs to be familiar with the operations of the airline; front-line work experience is a must, and the position also requires superlative marketing skills. "The manager needs to have excellent communication skills to pitch to clients, and strong market sense to design travel packages," says Riza.
He or she must be target focused and resourceful, Riza adds. "The main duty is to create sales, making use of the resources provided by the airline. To achieve this, the manager has to think of strategies to promote brand awareness and increase penetration. He or she has to reach the company's sales goals."
Leadership skills and the ability to motivate staff are also important traits. "There will be salespersons reporting to the manager, and the manager has to play a leading role in the airline's sales and marketing department," says Riza.
Much of the business travel manager's job takes place out of the office, with numerous client meetings - with travel agents, chambers of commerce and corporates - to discuss potential co-operation. "Managers must present them with packages that are on offer, and try to close deals. Sometimes this involves overseas travel," says Riza.
The pay for a business travel manager includes a basic salary, and an incentive bonus. Working hours are 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, though overtime and weekend duties are sometimes required.