Fleet News

Expanding the fleet role into business travel

A FLEET manager's career path can take many twists and turns and can involve taking on roles such as business development manger, logistics planner or human resources co-ordinator.

One route, which is gaining more popularity for fleet managers wanting to add another string to their bows, is that of business travel manager.

By becoming a business travel manager, fleet chiefs still have hands-on control of vehicles as rental hire is one of the main components of the job. But they also have to learn a range of new skills such as organising travel documents, organising rail tickets and planning business itineries.

Like any career change, it can be daunting and knowing where to start is the first step.

Competing a relevant qualification such as a City & Guilds Certificate in Business Travel would be the first step.

The Guild of Business Travel Agents (GBTA) offers this course, divided into four levels and suited to people at different stages of their careers.

For fleet managers wanting to begin from scratch, an introductory course could be the first step (log on to www.gbta-guild.com).

A GBTA spokeswoman said: 'The introductory level is designed for people who have not started work in business travel and for retail staff who wish to move into business travel. The content includes air fares and ticketing, travel geography, rail services, car rental, ferries, customer service, hotel reservations, itinerary planning, office administration and technology.'

Once the basic course has been completed, business travel managers can then progress further up the career ladder.

After two years in the industry, managers can become consultants. This involves more 'interpersonal skills and business travel marketing' according to the spokeswoman.

Supervisory and management roles can also be taken on following further training, with managers learning how to manage staff, control finances, office systems and technology, law and office administration.

Written exams are held each June and December but must be applied for three months in advance.

The majority of UK colleges offer business travel courses such as the Diploma in Business Travel, but some are more geared towards travel agents and some courses do require at least four GCSEs, grade A to C.

Some companies also run their own training courses, so career sidestepping could be completed during work or spare time.

Courses either require students to physically attend the classroom or can be completed by distance learning. Specialist trainers can also be employed who tailor courses to individual needs.

One group, called RETraining, provides courses for people wanting to change careers and become business travel consultants.

It primarily specialises in the travel industry but can adjust courses according to the needs of the customer such as those of a fleet and business travel manager and offers classroom-based tuition or distance learning. Courses are all tailored and cover subjects such as time management, report writing, public speaking and telephone skills.

Richard English, owner and founder of RETraining, said fleet managers wanting to expand their roles into business travel should either contact the GBTA or the Institute of Travel Managers (ITM) before embarking on a course.

However, English believes fleet managers would not need the extensive knowledge usually required by business travel managers in a travel agency.

He explained: 'Fleet managers would not necessarily need an in-depth knowledge. They would need to know about liaising with the travel company and how their own company works in regards to travel arrangements.'

  • Visit www.itm.org.uk

    Further reading

  • S R Covey: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1990)
  • S R Covey, A R and R R Merrill: First Things First (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994)
  • Jan Yager: Creative Time Management for the New Millennium (Hannacroix Creek Books, 1999)
  • Mark Forster: Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play (Help Yourself, 2000)
  • John Niland: 100 tips to find more time; PDF File (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) downloadable from www.success121.com

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