Our clients are confident that business travel will resume – and we are, too. Ensuring the travel policy is fit for purpose is a critical first step. When it’s time to travel, you need your employees to know what’s allowed, when to book, who to book – and most importantly, why. Successful travel programs make trips simple, productive and safe for business travelers. Let’s focus on three key areas that you need to think about now.
Acceptable company travel
As travel returns, your company needs to be clear on what is okay and what is not. Your employees’ safety is obviously the number one priority. Travel to all destinations, not just the high-risk ones, should be scrutinized as the situation changes weekly. Seize this period of downturn in travel as the right time to start making policy amendments to safeguard your travelers’ wellbeing.
Your travelers will want to know how to decide if they should travel or not, which airline is safest, which hotel is cleanest and what they should do if they’re stranded because a country suddenly re-enters lockdown. A clear and accessible travel policy will give them the information they need to make the right decision and feel confident about traveling again. We recommend looking at core procedural changes to provide clarity and protect travelers. Make sure you consider:
TRIP PLANNING AND VIABILITY
- Stronger pre trip approval process
- Viewing current risk ratings in destinations
- Assessing operation of flights and hotels
- Double, triple check departures and hotel availability
- Visa restrictions (e.g. Schengen versus non-Schengen)
- Potential quarantine
- Which travelers should or shouldn’t travel
SHIFTING MEETING TYPE BEHAVIORS
- Determine definition of business essential trips
- Determine per type of trip the most optimal configuration
- Can this meeting/trip be conducted virtually?
- Reduction in travel trends around: Single day trips / Internal travel / Last minute trips
DUTY OF CARE
- Additional pre trip approval (including approval by online booking)
- Implement traveler tracking and tracing system
- Registering with safety partner and downloading mobile app
- Work from Home and virtual tool promotion
- Assess repatriation possibilities
- Limiting high risk destination travel
- Destination specific information – frequently traveled destinations that may have more health/safety advisories/restrictions
Health and safety
Your travelers will only want to return to travel if they feel safe
When our Research & Innovation team surveyed our clients last year, traveler wellbeing was a top three priority for corporate travel managers, just behind savings and duty of care – but their pre-COVID programs didn’t always reflect it.
The pandemic has given new resonance to this topic: Your people are your greatest asset and an effective travel policy should prioritize their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
We recommend asking your travelers how they feel about getting back on the road. Governmental restrictions might have been eased and airlines and hotels might be operational again—but that doesn’t mean your travelers feel comfortable about returning to travel. Also, ask travelers for feedback on what they think will help them stay healthy on the road. What new wellness options would they like to see? Surveys will give you the feedback you’re looking for, tracking the trends so you can adjust in real time.
What your travel policy should consider right now
- Direct flights versus connections: Every time a traveler transfers at an airport, they are exposed to more health risks as part of transit. What is safe and acceptable?
- Transfer to/from the airport: How do they get to the airport? Public transport, own transport, rental car, taxi or a pre-arranged transfer? All have different potential exposure levels.
- Dining options: Do you want your travelers to have the option to choose to eat in locations/venues where they have increased exposure, or do you want them to have a meal in the hotel? If in the hotel, will it be the restaurant or room service?
- Allow lounge access: Do you want your travelers to walk around in the airport and sit in public spaces or do you allow them to go into the lounge.
- Anticipate potential forced extension: Do travelers have enough personal supplies and medicines in case their trip is unexpectedly extended? This is particularly important for any traveler with a health condition.
- Travel essentials: Do you want to provide travel health kits (e.g., gloves, face mask, hand sanitizer) or allow travelers to expense these supplies?
- Medical matters: Do you have procedures in place for travelers who get sick on the road? Are you giving guidance on medical insurance? Traveler manual: Do your travelers know the basics? Outline what they need to do in case of emergency, etc.
- Tailored messaging: What health and wellness options can you flag up to travelers? Tailor TripSource® messages to tell them about convenient hotel gyms, nearby parks with jogging paths, juice bars, walking tours and more.
- Supplier mix: Can you add health-oriented hotels to your supplier mix? What kind of offerings would be most valuable to your travelers?
Use and elevate all your travel tools and channels
Once you’ve defined the changes in your policy, you need to engage your travelers in their adoption. Provide them with the tools and the ability to make choices based upon their business needs. Help them understand through easy to digest visual assets, such as infographics, FAQs and videos, via emails, intranet content and OBT programing. This will ensure your travelers are fully informed and confident in what the policy means to them and what is expected of them.
Survey results are based on a November 2018 online survey of 53 travel managers worldwide. The respondents are travel managers from across the globe with responsibilities in multiple regions. Sixty percent of respondents work for companies with more than 10,000 employees; 55% manage an annual travel spend of US$25 million or more.
of survey respondents believe traveler wellness is important for talent attraction and retention
say their companies have an employee wellness program, but only 11% report a wellness program for travelers
of the respondents said they are responsible for traveler wellness. About a quarter said no one in their companies was in charge of helping employees stay healthy on the road.
BCD Travel Benelux
Webinar: The future of the travel policy
Our up-ended travel landscape is making us all question the way we think about our corporate travel policies – and highlighting the importance of having a dynamic policy put in place with a clear strategy to communicate it to travelers. In this webinar we:
- Share the top five policy areas to focus on in today’s environment
- Identify if your policy needs a full long-term overhaul or just a temporary supplemental one-page document to address the rapidly changing environment
- Determine if more control is needed in the new travel climate or if your tools are ready to empower your travelers to make the right choices
- Share our perspective on how to work with your TMC to achieve the highest level of duty of care while providing travelers with a consistent level of service and experience
What you can do
Travel policy checklist
What BCD Travel is doing
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of having a dynamic, digestible and meaningful policy that is easy to update as global travel risks evolve. If your policy is outdated, your travelers won’t have the information they need as they get back on the road. Now is the time to revamp your policy so it can be a cornerstone of your back to travel strategy.
Senior Vice President, Advito