2021 saw the slow and cautious loosening of business travel restrictions and a return to face to face meetings and events for many companies. And while we begin 2022 with a new surge in cases from the omicron variant, the milder strain of the virus suggests all is not lost for corporate travel's recovery.
Instead, the uptick in cases is a reminder that coming back to travel will require new ideas about traveler safety and wellbeing.
In a recent Global Business Travel Association buyer survey, 56 percent of respondents said they were rethinking the ROI of business travel to prioritize traveler wellbeing and safety.
As offices reopen, large meetings and events shift from virtual to hybrid or fully in-person, and road warriors get back to business-as-usual, travel managers need to ensure their company and employees stay safe and up-to-date on local, federal and international travel rules.
But that responsibility is easier to recognize than it is to fulfill. After all, the standard of what’s considered safe in a post-pandemic world is forever changing as the risks associated with travel rise and fall.
For those looking to place a stronger focus on safety as their company returns to travel, here are some adjustments you can make:
1. Be crystal clear on what kind of situation you are sending your people into
Destination requirements around visas, vaccination passports, self-isolation or quarantine change daily. Travelling interstate or internationally in such a dynamic environment makes it challenging for travelers and approvers alike to stay abreast of the current situation and the potential impact on their trip. Bringing all of this information together into the booking process is essential to ensuring you are managing corporate risk and traveler safety appropriately.
2. Improve your traveler tracking capabilities.
As COVID-19 spread across different countries and regions, the importance of being able to know where their people were became painfully clear to corporates large and small. Since then, technology innovations have made it easier to see at a glance all current and upcoming trips. Be sure this is a capability your online booking tool offers so you can quickly respond to evolving safety threats as they emerge.
3. Make it easy to review protection measures at point of purchase.
Since early 2020, hotel and air suppliers around the globe stepped up to improve safety protocols. Nevertheless, not all providers are following the same standards, which can lead to a nerve-wracking experience for employees trying to follow company policies.
To make this new world easier to navigate for travelers, ensure it’s simple and straightforward to review safety measures of hotels and airlines at the time of booking.
4. Build flexibility into your approval workflows.
When COVID-19 first hit, many companies instituted organization-wide travel bans. But as travel returns, the all-or-nothing approach to trip approval needs to make way for something more flexible. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to build multi-tier approval workflows into your company’s online booking tool.
For example, U.S. domestic travel may be deemed low risk by the company, so an employee booking a trip from California to New York can follow a standard authorization process. However, if that same employee wanted to travel internationally, the company could consider that higher risk and opt to require multiple approvers before the traveler can successfully book.
The return to travel creates the opportunity for companies to do business more effectively than they might otherwise have been able to in a purely virtual environment. Nevertheless, travel managers should use this time to ensure their organizations come back safer than ever before.
Want to learn more about how you can come back not only safer but leaner and smarter, too? Visit https://www.zeno.com/travel.