First they were travel managers, then they were procurement. As automation begins to circle round travel buyers, Mark Frary considers which specific job skills will be in demand tomorrow.
Being worried about your job is not a new concern for the travel manager – the fear that the P45 would land on the doormat in the recession of the early Nineties and economic crisis of the late Noughties was very real.
The changing business model of the airline industry also proved potentially deleterious to the continuing career of the travel manager, as commissions fizzled out and what was once a healthy profit centre became a drain on corporate cash. The maturing of the internet also heralded the rise of the online booking tools which had the potential to take over much of what a travel manager did. Yet travel managers have proven surprisingly resilient. They have largely moved their position inside companies into procurement but they are still there and still doing a great job thank you very much.
But what of the future? Business models continue to change in the travel sector, again putting jobs under pressure, but there is also the concern that what travel managers do might easily be taken over by a ‘robot’ or AI algorithm. Is this fear ungrounded? Perhaps not. PwC’s March 2017 UK Economic Outlook forecast that up to 30% of UK jobs could be replaced by automation by the 2030s.