A roadmap for returning to business travel
Create a personalised business travel roadmap to directly address your travel management priorities for the year ahead
The current corporate travel landscape
The current landscape of business travel looks dramatically different depending on where in the world you’re standing.
For those in Europe the idea of returning to business travel is being approached with cautious optimism, as more governments take steps to facilitate safe corporate travel. However, for those in other parts of the world, the situation seems more precarious and spikes in Covid-19 cases continue to fluctuate and set countries back into various forms of lockdown.
As the threat of the virus varies around the world, travel managers at global organisations are tasked with the challenge
of developing a travel management strategy that brings structure, and introduces new processes, but also remains flexible and allows for regional differences.
Although the volume of business travel has been greatly reduced, travel managers are under more pressure than ever before, wanting to prove their worth and develop strategies and programmes fit for a future that feels wildly unpredictable - all at a time when resources are limited, teams are leaner and economies unstable.
What to expect on your journey back to corporate travel
For anyone who has kept even just one eye on the news since the start of 2020 it will come as no surprise to learn that the journey back to corporate travel as we once knew it isn’t guaranteed to be a smooth one.
As cases of Covid-19 peak, plateau and hopefully even plummet, depending on where you are in the world, travel managers and corporates should strap in for what could be months of more uncertainty.
However, one thing that separates any uncertainty we might feel now from the uncertainty spread around the world in the early days of the pandemic is knowledge and experience.
Over the next six months travel managers can expect:
Last minute changes
Quickly enforced travel restrictions, isolation requirements and variation in how different countries are coping with Covid-19 combine to ensure that last minute trips and last minute changes are something that travel managers will have to contend with for the next six months.
A change in priorities
Many corporates understandably hit pause on their corporate travel strategy when the pandemic began in 2020. Now that many are returning to press play, they’re finding that the goals the strategy was built to achieve are no longer relevant.
A focus on travel risk management
Mitigating against the health and safety risks that are now associated with corporate travel is a top priority for travel managers and their organisations right now. The release of ISO 31030 has also reinforced this.
A rise in train travel
With international travel still tentative and restrictions ever-changing, many corporates are choosing to stick to domestic travel as a way of facilitating some business operations while also mitigating against risk and disruption = for that reason, travel managers can expect to see an increase in train travel.
A greater need for support
As travel managers continue to navigate uncharted territory and find new ways of working, they will need a greater level of support and guidance from their TMC. It’s important to utilise your TMC's experience and benefit from the lessons they have learned during their work with other customers.
Why Direct ATPI created a road map for returning to business travel
Direct ATPI have supported our clients throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and in doing so we have gathered a wealth of experience of navigating border closures, travel restrictions, operating charter flights and repatriating stranded travellers. We’ve also become adept at amending travel policies, creating booking processes and implementing new technology as a way of overcoming the challenges set by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the effects of Covid-19 seem all-pervasive, it’s important to consider aspects of travel that aren’t directly related to the impact of Covid-19 - aspects such as NDC content, customer service, online booking tools and travel management technology and sustainability.
In this roadmap we’re offering you the chance to develop a strategy that is geared towards the priorities that your organisation has for corporate travel right now. By selecting a few of the elements of corporate travel that are more important or intriguing to your organisation, you will create a roadmap of things to investigate and implement over the next few months.
What travel managers need to know about NDC right now
The term NDC has been used a lot within the travel industry over the last few years. However, this has mainly been in discussions around how the arrival of the technology and IATA’s standard can benefit airlines, rather than what it can bring to customers.
Due to the complex nature of NDC technology, explanations of what it is and how it works can become convoluted, which is why we have distilled what we think is essential for travel managers to know here:
Created by IATA, New Distribution Capability (NDC) refers to a data transmission standard that enables airlines to sell their inventory without the need for Global Distribution Systems - particularly ancillary services such as baggage, WiFi and in-flight meals.
NDC is a way of airlines communicating with third-party booking platforms and connects travellers directly with a supplier’s product offering, allowing travellers to build a fare that better reflects their requirements.
Although NDC was largely created due to airlines’ growing frustration with the cost of distributing their content through traditional Global Distribution Systems, the technology was also developed to create a better experience for buyers. The direct nature of NDC ultimately gives travellers more choice, which allows them to benefit from a more personalised booking experience.
Why is NDC important right now?
After the challenges posed by the pandemic, we can expect to see airlines putting even more effort into NDC and direct connect content as a way to recuperate their bottom line. However, utilising NDC content is also important for corporates right now, as it will enable them to keep control of costs by only selecting the services they require.
How does NDC benefit corporates?
- A more efficient booking process - Direct access to all available content means bookers and travellers no longer have to shop around, making the process of booking flights quicker and easier.
- Improved adoption and greater compliance - The increased choice that NDC provides travellers mean they have a higher chance of finding a fare or package that is right for them and their travel policy
- Transparent pricing - With NDC, customers can have complete confidence that the travel options and fares that they’re seeing are representative of what the market has to offer.
What to look out for in travel technology if accessing NDC content is a priority for your organisation
If your organisation would like to access NDC content then it’s vital that your corporate travel booking tool can aggregate content from multiple airlines. This will give your travellers a complete overview of everything the market has to offer, increasing their chance of making the best choice in terms of cost and travel policy. If you’re currently searching for a new TMC, then it’s worth asking how they plan to give your organisation access to NDC content and what kind of direct connect technology they already have in place with airlines.
How to bring your corporate travel programme and sustainability efforts together
Prior to 2020 we saw a collective conscience raised in regards to caring for the environment and limiting our impact on it - an approach that even extended to corporate travel.
Although the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic took priority last year, we are now seeing more organisations turn their attention back to the implementation of sustainability policies and ESG initiatives.
The good news for travel managers is that corporate travel doesn’t have to be at odds with your organisation’s wider sustainability targets. There is a way to achieve a
corporate travel strategy that delivers what your organisation needs while also limiting its impact on the environment.
Before doing anything, it’s important to talk to those closest to your travel programme – your travel managers, bookers and frequent travellers. Gathering their opinions on what kind of changes would make the biggest impact, and importantly be the most achievable, is essential in creating a sustainability strategy that is realistic for your organisation – one that will produce results and fit your company culture.
Although offsetting your carbon footprint remains a quick fix rather than offering a long term solution, it’s still an important part of limiting our impact on the planet. Over 30 IATA member airlines have pledged to invest in carbon reduction projects by developing carbon offset programmes to neutralise their emissions. If it’s possible to travel for business using these airlines then travellers can rest assured that they are making serious conservation efforts.
Further details of which airlines are involved in carbon offsetting can be found here. Your TMC should also be able to advise you in regards to adding C02 reporting to your current travel data, which will enable you to make more informed decisions when it comes to travel.
Questions to ask a prospective TMC about their sustainability efforts:
- Can you negotiate with hotel suppliers and airlines, selected due to their sustainability efforts, to secure corporate rates and offers?
- Do you have extensive and up-to-date knowledge of sustainability programmes implemented by travel suppliers and airlines currently?
- How do you share updates on suppliers’ sustainability efforts?
- Are you able to provide carbon reporting as part of travel data reports?
- Are you able to provide bespoke reports? Is there a limit to how many reports can be provided per month/year?
- Can travel data be presented in a dashboard format? Is it possible to customise this dashboard for our organisation?
- Will you provide analytics showing our key travel trends? And advise on how we can use this to develop a more sustainable travel programme?
- Can you provide advice regarding the sustainability efforts of our industry peers?
- Are you able to offer us choice when it comes to how we offset our carbon emissions?
What to look out for in your travel technology if achieving a more sustainable approach to corporate travel is a priority for your organisation:
If your organisation is sending sustainability to the top of its corporate travel agenda then it’s vital that your corporate travel booking tool can help guide bookers into making more environmentally-friendly travel choices. Booking tools that clearly show carbon emissions, indicate which options fall within your organisation’s travel policy or offer more sustainable travel alternatives will be important as your organisation takes steps to become greener.
An important element of customer service that your TMC might be missing
The upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that more corporates, and their travellers, are relying on their TMCs for support, rather than relying on them for the latest technology.
As travel restrictions began to change at pace and an increasing number of hotels temporarily closed their doors, many travellers found that being able to talk to a human who could advise them on the best course of action regarding their travel provided them with some much needed reassurance.
However, there is a way to combine the two and benefit from the expertise and knowledge of your TMC’s agents, while enjoying the convenience of booking and managing travel online.
Service as a way of improving traveller wellbeing
Knowing that a team of experts is easily contactable when travelling can provide precious peace of mind for travellers as they continue to navigate a new, more uncertain style of travel.
However, picking up the phone for a call is no longer a convenient method of communication for many of us, which is why it’s so important to ensure that your TMC has implemented more modern methods of service delivery.
Whether it’s vaccine passports, testing sites, quarantine requirements and travel restrictions, questions still occur while travellers are on the road. TMCs can provide just as much support via WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Skype and many other forms of instant messaging.
Implementing one of ATPI’s largest clients using instant chat
Just as the Covid-19 pandemic began ATPI implemented one of its largest clients to date. The challenges of implementing a customer of this size and complexity were only amplified by the worsening pandemic; border closures, travel restrictions and an operations team were now trying to navigate new, remote ways of working. Although business was not as usual, for the client it was imperative that it continued as usual.
ATPI had originally planned to embed one of its team within the clients’ office, however the outbreak of Covid-19 and the introduction of homeworking called for a new strategy. In order to facilitate easier communication, remove barriers and blend more seamlessly into the clients’ own team, ATPI implemented the use of online chat.
What to look for in a travel management solution
The key to finding a travel management solution that offers great customer service through a variety of convenient methods is looking for how well integrated a TMC’s operational technology is. Integration will enable consistency and ensure that whoever you speak to, in whatever format is best for you, will be able to access your organisation’s travel history and policies and individual traveller preferences.
Technology that travel managers should be implementing right now
Although the last eighteen months has seen a shift towards human-to-human service and a move away from using technology alone to book and manage travel, there’s no denying that the right technology is an important part of any corporate travel programme.
In fact, corporate travel technology will play a key part in many organisations’ journey back to travel as it will allow for more control and mitigation against the risks that are now associated with travel.
Here’s the technology that we recommend corporates look into implementing within their travel strategy right now:
Travel approval system
Although a thorough approvals process might once have been a source of frustration to travellers, it now provides reassurance to many employees who might feel nervous at the thought of making their first corporate trip. 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.
However, there’s no denying that cost reduction will remain important as corporates begin to navigate a dramatically different business landscape, particularly for organisations in sectors heavily impacted by an unstable economy. Travel approval remains an effective way of curtailing spend, as it allows stakeholders to prevent trips that break budget or indulge in unnecessary first class travel.
Finding a travel approval system that can be customised and adapted to your organisation’s needs throughout the year ahead is important, as what feels like a sensible and realistic travel approval process right now might feel irrelevant or even noncompliant by the end of the year. Your organisation might also want to implement different approval workflows depending on the reason for travel or on the traveller themselves - the right travel approval system will make this possible.
Traveller profile technology
The process of travelling has become much more complicated since the outbreak of Covid-19. Varying travel restrictions have been implemented across the globe as different countries try to limit the spread of the virus, meaning that travellers have to remain organised and vigilant when it comes to vaccination requirements, testing and quarantine protocols.
Using a traveller profile system is an effective way of simplifying much of the admin involved in travel, as well as mitigating against human error. By storing extra information on travellers, such as vaccination records and Covid-19 test results, in one central place all travel bookers are informed of a travellers status and can advise travellers what they need to do before travelling.
Instant chat and messaging
Knowing that a team of experts is easily contactable when travelling can provide precious peace of mind for travellers as they continue to navigate a new, more uncertain style of travel. However, picking up the phone for a call is no longer a convenient method of communication for many of us, which is why it’s so important to ensure that your TMC has implemented more modern methods of service delivery.
Whether it’s vaccine passports, testing sites, quarantine requirements and travel restrictions, questions still occur while travellers are on the road. If your TMC can offer support and customer service through technology such as WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Messenger that has been integrated alongside their usual booking tools then travellers can feel even more confident when beginning to travel again.
Ensuring your duty of care programme can support travellers now and in the future
Traveller safety has long been a priority for travel managers and their organisations, but the events of 2020 have pulled duty of care into even sharper focus.
The level of risk associated with travel has increased over the last eighteen months and while we hope this will change over time, dealing with the challenges presented by the outbreak of Covid-19 looks set to remain the reality for travel managers and travellers for the foreseeable future.
The first step in preparing your organisation’s duty of care programme for whatever the future holds is to establish what duty of care measures you had in place pre-pandemic, what you have implemented as precautionary or emergency measures over the past nine months and whether what is currently in place is fit for purpose when your organisation starts to travel again.
Here are our recommendations for duty of care technology and processes that will ensure your travellers are fully supported as travel begins the journey back to normal:
An updated travel approvals system
The outbreak of Covid-19 has changed the criteria as to what constitutes necessary travel for many organisations and so ascertaining the reason for travel is now more important than ever before. The right travel authorisation workflow will make these reasons more visible, allowing key stakeholders to assess the motivation for each travel request as well as highlighting which roles and departments need to travel the most and where to.
A thorough but efficient travel approvals process can provide some much-needed reassurance to travellers who might feel nervous at the thought of making their first corporate trip in 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.
The ability to customise your travel approval system as your organisation’s travel requirements change over the coming years is essential. As travel restrictions change and the world develops new ways of controlling the spread of Covid-19, the style of approval that your organisation requires right now might be vastly different from what your organisation needs in a year’s time. Your organisation might also want to implement different approval workflows depending on the reason for travel or on the traveller themselves - the right travel approval system will make this possible.
Understanding of ISO 31030
Although ISO 31030 was not created to specifically address the challenges and anxieties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the publication of the new global benchmark couldn’t be more relevant.
Welcomed by those responsible for the management of corporate travel, ISO 31030 provides organisations with the chance to boost internal assurance about the safety of travel, as well as improving employee’s confidence in travel. Meeting ISO 31030’s standards will show travellers that your organisation is taking all necessary steps to mitigate travel risk.
ISO 31030 is yet to be published, but we expect it to contain guidance on topics such as scope, context and risk criteria, risk management processes, management of travellers and recording and reporting. The guidelines are expected to be published in full by the end of 2021. We have put together a short FAQ document sharing what we know so far about ISO 31030 in order to help travel managers be best prepared.
Pre and post-trip communication
Now that most corporates have repatriated stranded employees and developed new duty of care processes for essential workers, attention should once more turn to the mental wellbeing of travellers. At a time when so much to do with travel feels uncertain and can trigger feelings of anxiety and nervousness amongst travellers, it’s best practice to plan ahead for how you will properly support your team once they do start to travel again.
In order to ensure that travellers feel as confident and comfortable as possible in the run up to a business trip, corporates should take a considered approach to the information they provide their employees with. Timing communication so that it doesn’t get lost in inboxes and stays top of mind for travellers is an important strategy in avoiding communication overwhelm and delivering 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 also a good initiative to implement before travel resumes.
Post-trip surveys can be a useful way of collecting the experiences of those who are travelling and using them to inform your organisation’s new corporate travel processes. For example, if a returning traveller tells you that they did not feel well-informed about the health and safety or quarantine requirements of their destination country then you can ensure that you provide future travellers with more information.
Consider asking questions about how they felt before, during and after the trip, how the trip impacted their work and home life and whether they would’ve liked your organisation to do anything differently to better support them. Your TMC will be able to advise you further on post-trip traveller surveys.
Targeted traveller updates and alerts
Staying up-to-date with the latest travel advice regarding Covid-19 and avoiding information overwhelm seems like a Catch-22, but it’s a challenge that many travel managers are having to undertake.
Although it’s important to have access to all necessary information that pertains to travel restrictions, governmental advice and test and vaccination developments, it’s even more important that the information travel managers are exposed to is relevant and accurate. An uncertain and emotive situation, such as the pandemic, is ripe for misunderstanding and inaccuracies to flourish and so working based on accredited and reliable information is essential.
We would recommend streamlining your information sources and prioritising those that are verified and can be tailored to only share information that is relevant to your organisation's location, your travellers’ most frequent destinations and the way that your company travels for business.
Talk to your TMC about accessing apps and widgets that search for the travel restrictions, governmental guidelines and testing policies for an upcoming trip or relevant location and present you with only the most relevant information. It is also a good idea to ensure that you and your travel stakeholders are signed up to a real-time travel alerts service such as ATPI Alerts.
Communicate change in your corporate travel programme post-pandemic
Informative, relevant and consistent communications around corporate travel processes have never been more important.
Although parts of the world are beginning to open up and for some travel is resuming, there is still a lot of uncertainty amongst travellers. Not only are they unsure of whether to travel, they’re also considering how they can do this safely and with minimal risk.
A carefully considered corporate travel communications strategy can help to ease anxieties, protect travellers and protect your company. However, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to reviewing and updating your internal communications processes.
Here are some elements to consider adding to your corporate travel communication strategy:
Take a multilayered approach to announcing changes
When updating travellers on how your organisation’s travel policy and booking processes have changed since the start of the pandemic, provide communications in multiple formats. For example, hold an initial virtual meeting to announce the changes but also record this and share via email or intranet for those unable to attend. It’s also worth making a written document or graphic highlighting the changes so that this can be easily updated and translated when required.
Issue travellers with guidance on the safest ways to travel
Whether in the form of internal guides or links to external websites, it’s a good idea to share health and safety tips with travellers prior to their trip. Although most travellers are now aware of the need to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser, reminding them of other steps to take, such as travelling with their own cutlery and wiping down luggage and surfaces, can help them to feel more in control when travelling.
Review how you are sharing travel information and guidelines
Although providing travellers with external links to government websites regarding travel restrictions and protocols is a good idea in theory, it’s important to consider how accessible this is for them. It’s worth reviewing whether these resources are available in a range of languages and assessing how easily they can be accessed when travellers are mid-journey with limited connectivity.
Aim for all travel communications to be relevant and targeted
The amount of information and news available throughout the pandemic has been the cause of much anxiety. Taking the time to ensure that any travel guidelines and communications that you share with your travellers are relevant to their journeys or roles can help to ease feelings of overwhelm. It will also bring more clarity to what is still an uncertain time for many.
Ensure travellers have access to 24/7 support
Many travellers are, understandably, concerned about getting ‘stranded’ while travelling and not being able to return home due to changing travel restrictions. Giving your travellers 24/7 access to travel and safety specialists, as well as explaining how to use the service, can make them feel more confident and less distracted by the prospect of being impacted by quickly enforced restrictions.
Create an FAQ document that is regularly updated
Corporate travellers are likely to have many questions right now and will continue to do so as the situation develops. It’s important to collect these questions, answer them and host them in an easily accessible place so that travellers can refer to them as needed. Ensuring that this document is regularly updated will help to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of questions directed at travel managers.
Catch up with travellers after their trip
Implementing a process in which travellers have the opportunity to talk about a trip once they are home will give your organisation greater understanding of how travel is impacting employees. This conversation will give travellers a chance to share how they found travelling and what had changed since they last took a trip, as well as how well supported they felt on their trip.
How to review and reboot your corporate travel policy
Your organisation’s corporate travel policy forms the foundation of your wider corporate travel programme or strategy.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how many corporates travel and so it’s likely that travel policies put in place before 2020 do not accurately represent how an organisation now travels.
An ill-fitting travel policy can lead to out-of-policy bookings, leakage and unexpected travel costs, so it’s essential for corporates to set time aside to review their policy as organisations continue to return to travel.
Here’s some best practice advice regarding reviewing your travel policy right now:
1. To travel or not to travel
The simple act of travelling for business has never before been under such close interrogation. Whether corporates are deciding whether or not to let employees travel due to health and safety concerns, efforts to limit their carbon footprint or both, more and more travel managers are deciding to implement more guidance and criteria around the decision to travel.
When it comes to your organisation’s travel policy, it could be worth adding in a short criteria for any business trips that take place over the next year. These guidelines could include:
- Clear criteria for when employees should travel for internal meetings
- Clear criteria for when employees should travel for external meetings
- A checklist for what kind of meetings are permitted to be held via video/telephone conferencing
If your organisation is looking to take even more control of when and why your teams are travelling then you could consider implementing a travel approval system. You can find out more about travel approvals here.
2. Preferred suppliers and negotiated rates
One of the first aspects of your corporate travel policy that should be reviewed is any guidance or stipulations regarding preferred suppliers or negotiated rates, as it’s likely that any rates agreed prior to the pandemic are outdated or no longer reflect how your organisation travels.
As an overall rule, it makes good sense to roll your 2020 hotel rates over into 2021 and monitor these as the year unfolds. It’s a good time to also review the rate caps outlined in your current travel policy and decide whether you’d like to lower these or allow travellers to stay in 4* or 5* hotels for the price of 3* accommodation.
Reviewing any negotiated fares that are attached to particular routes is worthwhile, as these routes may no longer be relevant to how your organisation travels. It could be the case that a different airline is now operating your most frequently travelled route, in which case you will need to decide whether you’d like to negotiate a new rate. It is also worth reviewing which loyalty schemes your organisation benefits from and to work this into your planning, as most airlines have agreed to extend expiration dates by at least six months.
3. Traveller wellbeing and support
During a period of such uncertainty it is important to ensure that your corporate travel policy is up-to-date in terms of traveller wellbeing resources and guidance.
Ensuring that your corporate travel policy explains in detail the ways in which your organisation is taking steps to mitigate against the health and safety risks associated with travel right now and highlights any new procedures that have been implemented in order to support them will help to alleviate nerves and uncertainty.
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 regular touch points with your TMC too.
4. Cost-saving technology
Many corporates are finding that their pre-Covid travel policies simply don’t reflect how their organisation travels or plans to travel now that restrictions are easing in some parts of the world. For example, guidelines that encourage travellers to book travel as far in advance as possible now seem unrealistic and so TMCs are supporting corporates in changing policies to allow for new cost saving strategies.
With many organisations now testing a return to corporate travel by permitting domestic and local trips only, train travel is set to become a more important part of many corporate travel programmes. Ideally travellers would be able to book in advance to secure the best rates, but for those who remain tentative to commit to trips until nearer the day SeatFrog offers an alternative way of saving, while also achieving a more comfortable journey. The app gives travellers the chance to bid for first class seats - if they’re successful then SeatFrog will send them a new e-ticket for their upgraded journey.
When it comes to booking hotels, corporates are similarly hesitant to book in advance in case plans fall foul of newly imposed restrictions. Implementing the use of tools such as TripBam, which continues to search for better rates even after you have booked, can help to reduce the cost of a trip without having to plan too far ahead.
Supplier management in 2021/2022
Many organisations are feeling at a loss when it comes to negotiating new supplier rates right now - and understandably so.
Gaging travel volumes is likely to be difficult for some time, as travel restrictions continue to come and go around the globe. As a result, organisations are left with little leverage when it comes to negotiating, but that doesn’t mean that corporate rates need to be scratched from the record.
Here’s our expert advice on how to make the most of supplier management over the next year:
Reviewing your hotel programme
When it comes to hotel rates, our advice is not to prioritise a formal RFP process in 2021.
The simplification of RFPs was a trend that we saw emerging pre-Covid and 2021 looks to feature deals as simple as a ceiling rate for the year with percent discounts applied across the whole of a hotel’s estate, including hero properties that may have previously been excluded.
Given the extreme pressures the hotel market is under, we expect this trend to continue as hotels scrabble to gain as much share as they can from the available market. You can read more about this here.
As an overall rule, it makes good sense to roll your 2020 hotel rates over into 2021 and monitor these as the year unfolds. It’s a good time to also review the rate caps outlined in your current travel policy and decide whether you’d like to lower these or allow travellers to stay in 4* or 5* hotels for the price of 3* accommodation.
Reviewing your negotiated air fares
Air fares tell a similar story and we would recommend that organisations talk to their TMCs to discuss how to get the best fares. Your TMC should have access to separate negotiated rates and exclusive fares that they can pass on to you. Most organisations won’t have hit their 2020 travel targets, but it’s likely that airlines will lower their expectations and be more open to negotiations as a way of building new relationships with customers.
Reviewing any negotiated fares that are attached to particular routes is worthwhile, as these routes may no longer be relevant to how your organisation travels. It could be the case that a different airline is now operating your most frequently travelled route, in which case you will need to decide whether you’d like to negotiate a new rate. It is also worth reviewing which loyalty schemes your organisation benefits from and work this into your planning, as most airlines have agreed to extend expiration dates by at least six months.
Your next steps on the journey back to business travel
Although corporate travel volumes are set to remain low for the next twelve months, there is still a tremendous amount of work for travel managers to do.
We hope that this roadmap has provided a useful and easy-to-digest overview of the topics that your organisation wants to focus on this year.
Here are a few extra pieces of best practice advice to ensure reviewing and renewing your corporate travel strategy gets off to the best start:
2020 provided a chance to reset and focus on what’s truly important to your organisation, so now is the time to gain clarity on what is a priority to your organisation. Narrowing down your corporate travel wishlist to three problems that you’d like to solve by amending your corporate travel strategy is a good place to start to avoid feeling overwhelmed and in order to stay focused.
Nominate a task force as soon as it’s decided that your organisation is going to issue an RFP. This should consist of key stakeholders, such as travel managers, HR, finance and regular travellers. This team can provide concentrated resources and energy to ensure that the project stays on track.
Getting back to business travel in a safe and efficient way that works for your organisation could become a long and cumbersome task without milestones and deadlines to keep things moving forwards. It might be the case that timelines have to be adjusted to account for unforeseen travel restrictions and pandemic-related developments, but it’s always a good idea to start with carefully considered milestones.
When mapping out your return to business travel, it’s well worth allowing time to take stock and review your progress, as well as assess any new information available or developments concerning the pandemic. This will give you the chance to amend timelines and tasks and ensure that they remain relevant as the project continues.
TMCs have stayed busy becoming experts in all things travel restrictions and travel risk management. They will have spent a lot of time advising organisations on how they can best prepare for a return to travel safely, as well receiving regular updates from travel suppliers on what they are doing to best support corporate customers. Don’t be hesitant to rely on the expertise and guidance of your TMC and seek reassurance from them when things feel challenging.
Talk to the Direct ATPI team about how best to map your organisation’s return to corporate travel at this year’s Business Travel Show.
The Business Travel Show takes place from 30th September - 1st October at ExCeL, London. Meet the Direct ATPI team at stand BTSE140 for free consultancy and strategy advice on the future of your corporate travel programme. Stop by and we will even offset your travel to the show, making your trip completely carbon neutral.
Book your meeting with Direct ATPI