In our world of corporate travel, you are faced with choices, alternatives and diversions all the time that question how good your travel program can become. For many of us in the industry, we have often seen companies (and claims) come and go. We see investors try their prowess by investing in the next big thing in the world of business travel. We read things that make claims all the time.
But in the end, I think you need three personal attributes from the people that make these claims, before any of those claims can be considered. You need these because I have learned with age comes wisdom - the wisdom of travel knowledge.
Education: Travel is not this standalone business, where anyone can go to university and get a degree in travel management. It is founded in the ideals of business management, of how to run a business, whether it be disciplines of finance, or marketing or strategy. Then within those large strategies, are more focused strategies like procurement. The education of your closest confidants is therefore important, and you should ask (under certain circumstances) what education they have.
Experience: Then you throw in experience - the ability to grow from the experience you have had doing travel management over the years. But what experience is good? What if you have done the same thing over thirty years? Well, it depends. If you have been a buyer of travel management and understand relationships between all the suppliers and the corresponding relationships to your business functions, that is good. Or maybe you have done lots of different stuff in your career - that might be good too. But I trust you all, you will know.
Honesty: Honestly, this is the tough one - honesty (that was difficult to read!). Are the people you are speaking to for advice and guidance honest? It may be difficult to figure out - but you should determine over time if the people you are speaking to are honest. I think in the end honesty will manifest itself over the years with the people you have met and spoken to, and you will know, if they speak (and sell) the truth. If so, they are keepers.
So I hope as you develop your circle of advisors, you think about these three things - and while you can be friends with anyone and everyone - sometimes they are not your perfect advisors because they will not always give you the best advice you can receive.