With vaccines being quickly distributed, COVID numbers going down, and governments around the world easing restrictions, business travel is definitely on the uptick again. But even if road warriors are dusting off their suitcases, there’s no denying that business travel looks different now, after a global pandemic.
So how do you book business trips in a post-COVID world? Here are three things corporate travel managers and their travelers should consider as they resume travel.
1. Be Purposeful: Book Trips That Have an ROI
Throughout the pandemic, most companies either eliminated or significantly reduced the amount of business travel they approved. But even businesses that continued to travel, whether in part or in full, still had to determine what travel was permissible.
Permissible travel, according to the consulting firm Festive Road, is business travel that is government approved, company approved, and employee agreed. But as the amount of permissible business travel increases, corporate travel managers will need to pivot once again in order to successfully manage the return.
One aspect of that pivot is determining how to identify, support, and manage business travel that actually provides a return. While the convenience of Zoom highlighted the savings to be had in not traveling over the last year, it also showcased how important face-to-face meetings are. Companies realized the significance of in-person interactions because they build trust, aid in closing deals, and solidify relationships. Those high-value meetings are the sweet spot of business travel because they have purpose.
What Is Purposeful Travel?
Identifying purposeful travel entails corporate travel managers working with other stakeholders in their company to determine what types of travel are valuable. This may require a shift in focus:
- While some may have seen business travel simply as a perk or status symbol before COVID, purposeful travel requires a reason and ROI.
- Where business travelers may have previously jumped on a plane at any chance, purposeful travel asks that they consider the possibility of a virtual meeting first.
- Where companies may have previously deemed travel as an expectation or requirement of a role, purposeful travel swings the balance back to considering employee well-being and work/life balance.
- While limited consideration may have been given to the impact of business travel on the planet in the past, purposeful travel places the value of sustainability at the center of an organization’s conversation.
- Where travel may have been a cost center before the pandemic, purposeful travel now identifies it as an investment.
As corporate travel managers outline what purposeful travel looks like for their organization, they will also want to consider company culture, competitors, and clients. Purposeful travel policies should:
- encourage the corporate culture.
- allow you to maintain a competitive edge.
- meet client expectations and maintain strong relationships.
What that looks like from company to company will vary. Festive Road provides a review model to help companies evaluate and identify how to be purposeful as their corporate travel resumes.
Booking purposeful business trips will look different for every company. It may mean fewer, but longer trips with more meetings. It might require goal-setting or identifying desired results prior to travel. It could encourage the implementation of new accountabilities to measure success and ROI.
2. Be Safe: Book Trips That Align With Risk Management Plans
COVID, despite all its challenges, did help companies identify the gaps in their corporate travel programs—firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the safety and security of their business travelers.
Organizations are now more aware of the need to be prepared for the unforeseen situations that can arise when business travelers are on the road. They see the importance of policies and technology that allow them to maintain constant awareness of their travelers’ location. They have a greater appreciation for the value travel management companies (TMC) provide as partners who can assist and advocate for them during crisis moments.
10 Business Travel Safety Considerations for Corporate Travel Managers
As travel resumes, maintaining the safety and security of your business travelers begins with a strong risk management plan that’s supported by real-time technology. As road warriors begin booking trips again, here are ten things corporate travel managers might consider doing to better manage risk moving forward:
- Update risk management plans.
- Ensure that corporate travel policies are aligned with the risk management plan.
- Identify communication strategies for future crisis possibilities.
- Evaluate the company’s need for any travel to high-risk locations.
- Assess travel approval settings.
- Remind travelers to update the contact information in their traveler profiles and require the inclusion of mobile numbers and emergency contacts.
- Work with their TMC Account Manager to make sure any new policies are integrated with their booking tools.
- Turn on safety notifications and alerts for business travelers.
- Re-communicate the organization’s safety procedures and travel policy to their traveling workforce. You may also want to consider mandating the policy.
- Provide safety, security, and policy training to business travelers so they feel supported and informed.
3. Be Informed: Book Trips Knowing What to Expect
Companies and their travelers are now more aware of what can happen when they don’t have all the information they respectively need when crises arise during business travel. Some organizations struggled to bring travelers home when COVID lockdowns began and countries closed borders around the world. Other companies had a much easier experience because they had the resources, information, technology, and support to make it happen quickly.
Similarly, some business travelers faced repatriation with uncertainty and perhaps a measure of anxiety, while others knew exactly who to call to change their plans and make it home safely.
While companies have a duty of care responsibility to inform and educate their travelers and ensure their safety on the road, there are things business travelers can also do to successfully book business travel in a post-COVID world.
Review Risks and Know Restrictions
By being aware of the risks associated with a particular destination, you can make plans with your company for your safety. Additionally, not all restrictions have been lifted around the world. In fact, some are still changing with frequency. Rely on real-time tools and your company’s TMC resources to know what’s required before you book a business trip.
Use Your Company’s Approved Booking Process
Whether it’s online or with a corporate travel agent, booking through your company’s approved process ensures that your manager and travel team can locate you and help you if you encounter an uncertain situation.
Know Your Company’s Travel Policies
When you understand and follow your company’s corporate travel policies, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing what to do and how you will be supported if you encounter a crisis like COVID on the road.
Keep Contact Information Updated
Before going on a business trip, make sure the contact information in your travel profile is current and includes your mobile number and emergency contact. Also make sure you take with you (or can easily locate offline) contact information for your company’s travel department as well as your company’s travel management company agents or support team.
Ultimately, booking business trips in a post-COVID world will require companies and their travelers to rethink how corporate travel fits into their strategies and provides a return.
Christopherson Business Travel’s corporate travel experts can evaluate your travel program to encourage purposeful travel. Our Account Managers provide customized travel management plans that help you integrate the policies, partnerships, and technology you need to successfully navigate the new business travel landscape.
To learn more about Christopherson’s services and technology, contact us today.