How Businesses are Preparing for the Return to Travel

Is corporate travel going to be a thing again? Of course it is. Are your business travelers fired up about getting back on the road? Sure they are. In fact, according to a recent Wakefield Research report, 32% said they are excited about the return to travel, and a whopping 92% said they expect negative business consequences if they can’t travel. 

So yes, they want to get back out there. 

Global Business Traveler Report 2020

 

The big question, however, is: Are they ready? Because the answer often comes down to whether or not you, as an organization, are ready to send them back to the airports, back to the train stations, back to states and countries that have different protocols and protections for visitors. 

So how do you get ready? How do you get your travelers where they need to go safely and efficiently when the rules seem to change every day? 

We have an answer for that, too. 

 

7 steps for travelling in the new normal:

Step 1: Plan ahead for continuous change. 

The return to travel is going to take a while. It’s also going to take adaptability. And agility. And, yes, lots of patience. You’ll need to build a plan that involves every stakeholder – from HR and finance to travelers and TMCs – and you may need to phase that plan in as borders reopen. Just remember to give yourself time. Read more.

Step 2: Stay informed to stay agile. 

Everything is literally up in the air, so create a resource center where employees can easily find the latest travel requirements – like airline restrictions and updated safety measures. Also make sure they update their travel profiles, so you can find them quickly in an emergency. Read more.

Step 3: Set up pre-trip approvals. 

You have to stay on top of safety, and you have to stay on top of spend. Implement a pre-trip approval process with a simple travel app, and you’ll see why employees are traveling, what it’s going to cost, and how to manage T&E budgets before the money gets spent. Read more.

Step 4: Help travelers make smarter, safer choices. 

Guide travelers to your TMC to check for unused tickets or credits. Make sure they book only flexible flights and refundable hotels. Encourage them to use only preferred vendors. And again, you can give them simple travel apps to take care of all this travel booking. Read more.

Step 5: Build safety into pre-trip planning. 

Your travelers are worried about their safety, so make sure you provide them with a clear company policy about masks, hand sanitizer, other PPE, and whether or not those costs can be expensed. Then work with your TMC to provide pre-trip safety reports and other tools to help ease travelers’ concerns about where they’re headed and how they’ll get there. Read more.

Step 6: Help employees stay safe while traveling. 

Give your team the tools and information they need to be prepared on the road. This includes everything from what to do if they get sick, to keeping travel as touchless as possible (contactless payments, automated expense solutions, etc.), to mobile tools that update them on flight changes and safety scores. Read more.

Step 7: Proactively manage the post-travel experience.

Your duty of care doesn’t end when the trip is over. Neither does the need to stay on top of travel and expenses. Consider policies like a 14-day stay-at-home mandate after every trip and a solution to automate expense reports, so employees don’t need to collect and retain receipts. Read more.

 

This is where business travel is headed. 

Employees want and need to feel safe in their jobs, and since that safety has become a moving target, you need to move with it. And that means change. 

As the Wakefield report points out, 96% of business travelers think safety measures need to be in place before they travel again – and 18% say they’ll look for another job if adjustments aren’t made.  

These are significant statistics, but they’re not pointing your organization away from travel, they’re pointing to the need to do it safely.

 

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