There are a number of key issues and concerns for businesses as they prepare for a return to corporate travel post-pandemic. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that the constant changing of restrictions and requirements have made it nigh on impossible to plan.
However, with its positive impact on business performance and contribution to economic recovery, there’s no doubt that corporate travel will return. With that in mind, there are several elements of the travel programme that can be considered and planned for now in order to ensure a smooth transition when the time is right.
1. Create a ‘permission to travel’ policy: In a post-pandemic world, it is essential to add a new layer of permission approvals into your travel policy. Travel approval has shifted from looking at signing off on cost only, to now involve more elements of risk management in order to consider the purpose of travel and whether the trip is business critical. Adding this layer into your travel policy will ensure that the risks are weighed up before the trip is planned, and enables two-way communication throughout the entire process, as well as giving peace of mind that every trip taken is backed up by full business support.
2. Address traveller concerns within the travel policy: A concern for returning travellers is where the responsibility for risks and liabilities lies. In order to overcome this, your travel policy should clearly outline who is accountable for corporate traveller safety and whether that lies with the individual, the company or is a shared liability. Surveys are also a great way to understand the concerns of travellers to guarantee they’re addressed in the planning of future trips.
3. Engage HR: Involving HR will ensure that company-wide wellbeing policies are integrated into the overall travel plan, with traveller tracking more important than ever. As corporates plan for the return to travel, HR departments have a greater responsibility to keep on top of knowing exactly where travellers are at all times, as well as understanding any potential risks those locations may be faced with.
4. Getting the balance right: Getting the tricky balance between preparedness and scaremongering right is vital for guiding your travel programme back on track. Be sure to share clear facts and sources of accurate information to garner confidence among returning travellers. Highlighting the tools available for accessing this information is essential to guarantee travellers know what the current circumstances are in the destination they are visiting. Tools such as ATPI’s Alert mailing provides a one-stop source of country and airline specific travel conditions, without instilling fear for travellers.
5. Raise awareness: Use your TMC partner to help develop communications plans that raise awareness of the policy internally. Ensuring internal stakeholders, and those involved in the travel booking process, are aware of the policy and travel permission process is key to limiting out-of-policy bookings in the future.
6. Accurate and up to date information: As things continue to move quickly and change remains frequent, providing correct and up to date information is paramount. Working with a TMC will ensure that all information is maintained in one single, easy to reach place, that is convenient for travellers. This can be done through the use of apps, or user-friendly websites like ATPI’s TravelHub which is accessed via a link as soon as travel confirmation has been distributed. These platforms provide a convenient compilation of continually-updated useful information, such as visa requirements and travel restrictions, traveller details and e-tickets, as well as new features that provide the latest Covid-related updates in destination.
7. Be upfront about any policies related to vaccination: Honesty and transparency are key to building confidence for returning travellers. We expect to see many large corporates introduce a ‘no-vaccine no-travel’ policy and while not yet an agreed industry standard, it is important to be clear about the company’s approach towards vaccines as soon as possible.
8. Apply industry standards: Any company policies should be in-line with global initiatives. While still very much in the development and trial stage, Covid health passports such as the IATA Travel Pass are highly likely to become part of international air travel, and should be incorporated into the company travel policy as soon as approved.
While we await the return of corporate travel, now is the perfect opportunity to ensure your travel programme is best-placed for post-pandemic travel. As the situation continues to change daily, there are a number of factors that can be considered now to best manage the return of business travel.