3 Lessons to be learned from the sectors who continued to travel throughout the Covid-19 pandemic
At ATPI we have been facilitating travel for key workers throughout the pandemic - from the chaotic early days of repatriations to the more stable, but complex, period of quarantines and PCR testing. In doing so we’ve found new ways of working that can be applied to travel management across all sectors.
Here are three things to consider in order to ensure your corporate travel programme is fit for when the world opens up again:
Organisations who have continued to travel have sought more communication, both with their travel provider and also internally, than during pre-pandemic times and is something that will continue to be important over the coming year.
ATPI’s marine and energy specialists have found that consistent communication has formed the backbone of their operations strategy throughout the pandemic and so we would suggest that as corporates prepare to travel again, they review the way in which they communicate with their travellers and their TMC.
The timing of what you share with your travellers is just as important as the information that’s being shared. The quickly evolving nature of the pandemic has meant that all of us have been subject to more news alerts and updates that we were previously used to and it can leave us all feeling overwhelmed.
Timing communication so that it doesn’t get lost in inboxes and stays top of mind for travellers is an important strategy in making travellers feel more confident and less anxious about travelling. Break communications into ‘pre’, ‘during’ and ‘post’ trip categories to avoid communication overwhelm and deliver information when it's most relevant.
Providing regular touch points, such as regular calls, webinars or newsletters, that update travellers on travel regulations and your organisation’s duty of care process is a good initiative to implement before travel resumes. However, it’s also important to ensure that as a travel or procurement manager, you’re having these regular touch points with your TMC too.
The outbreak of Covid-19 caught most organisations completely off guard, with no one predicting the severity and the longevity of the pandemic. The shock of the chaos and upheaval caused by the early days of closed borders and travel restrictions was a catalyst for many organisations to review the visibility of their travel. Did they know where their travellers were at all times? Were line managers aware of every trip that was taken? Could travel managers identify the most frequently used routes to assess the effects of travel restrictions and limited airline capacity?
For organisations operating within essential sectors, such as energy and shipping, being able to harness travel data and have complete visibility of all travel was essential in developing a strategy that would allow them to continue to travel in a safe and efficient way.
To gain visibility of intent to travel, many organisations have reviewed their travel approvals process. By asking travellers to submit a request to travel, key stakeholders can decide which travel is essential before booking has begun. Travel approvals can also provide reassurance to many employees who might feel nervous at the thought of making their first corporate trip for a while. Knowing that multiple stakeholders, who have access to detailed information regarding risk assessment and travel guidelines, have approved a trip can help travellers to feel more confident and as though your organisation is putting their wellbeing first.
Quick and easy access to data will also be important as the pandemic continues to unfold. Your organisation’s corporate travel data can show you the locations that your travellers visit most frequently, meaning that you can focus resources on monitoring these areas for updates regarding travel and social-distancing restrictions.
The term ‘travel data’ also includes traveller profiling systems and technology that stores all of your travellers’ details and preferences. At a time when visas, travel permissions and even health testing have never been so important, storing this data in one central, integrated system that allows for quick access is essential.
Unsurprisingly, booking and managing travel has become more complex over the last year. Clients within the marine and energy sectors know this only too well, but it’s something that we expect to see when it comes to corporate travel bookings too.
Until Covid-19 is truly under control across the globe, travel managers and travellers will have to account for more steps being added to the booking process - something to bear in mind when making last minute bookings. For example, instead of being able to book a familiar flight and hotel within 10 minutes, bookers must now consider:
- Is that flight route still operating? Is it used by the same airline?
- What are the travel restrictions within my current location right now?
- What are the travel restrictions within my destination right now?
- Do I have to produce a negative Covid-19 test in order to travel?
- Do I have to produce a negative Covid-19 test in order to travel home?
- Will I need to quarantine?
- Is my usual hotel open for business right now?
Although this can feel overwhelming to see listed, your TMC will be able to support you in sufficiently preparing both your internal processes and your travellers for the slow return to travel.