The Long Road Back to Business Travel is Getting Shorter

You remember that trip out west with your parents when you were ten? How it took forever, and you weren’t quite sure where you were going, and all you had was a promise that it would be great when you got there?

Yeah, that trip. That’s where we are again, except we’re not headed to your uncle’s house, we’re getting corporate travel back up off the ground. And it has been…a…very…long…haul. One with enough hairpin turns to ensure that you can’t take your hands off the wheel for even a moment.

But as a travel manager, this is nothing new to you. You’ve perfected the art of adaptation, and as is often necessary, re-adaptation. And according to our Global Travel Manager Report 2021, you’re expecting to adapt again: 60% of travel managers in the Americas and 58% in Europe anticipate upcoming changes in government regulations that will ultimately force changes in your policies.

Add to that the fact that nearly all of you – 99% – expect additional challenges in the next 12 months. You’ll be, as the report points out:

  • Dealing with last-minute trip changes and cancellations.
  • Wrangling a very literal wealth of unused tickets to (attempt) to reuse.
  • Navigating the aforementioned government regulations, and well, everything else that changed in the last 16 months.

While you’re busy with all that, you’ll not only be restarting but reshaping your travel program. And instead of doing it in relative obscurity, the eyes of your organization will be upon you – from the C-suite to every last traveler itching to get out on the road again (which, according to the report, is 68% of your traveling headcount).

Your ability to fire up the engines of business travel is critical to regaining confidence and rebuilding business momentum.

  • The boardroom is looking at you to deliver the policies, practices, and predictability that will get and keep your business moving.
  • Finance is looking at you to help them ensure the efficiency they need from every dollar, yen, and euro they spend on travel.
  • And your road warriors are looking to you to keep them safer and more informed than ever before.

So, while the return to travel is approaching the jetway, and you’ve worked nonstop in getting us to the gate, we’re not slipping the surly bonds of earth just yet. Or, to use still another tired travel metaphor, we ain’t going nowhere fast.

What is getting there going to take? Flexibility.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you, either; the changes mentioned above keep coming. The budget still requires nimble navigation. Compliance is more of a concern than ever. And travelers’ expectations have gone from “But I want to stay in a five-star hotel” to “I need to know the vaccination policies in Vlorë, Albania…and I want to stay in a five-star hotel.”

To stay on your feet – not to mention march forward at the ever-increasing pace of progress – you’re going to need help. The most successful travel managers will implement tools and solutions that support business priorities while providing a greater level of duty-of-care protection and the flexibility business travelers now demand. Without the right tools, any new policies you put in place will struggle. Without the right tech, you’ll be left with old solutions to new problems.

There’s no need to go on this journey alone, because no one’s ever gone where travel managers are now going: A post-pandemic business world.

If you want to find that copilot, read the report

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