The question facing many global businesses now is how travel will change. 9/11 changed the airline industry, the 2008 recession changed spending mindsets. Change is inevitable, of course.
Pre COVID-19, CWT was looking after enough travellers every day to fill more than 250 Boeing 747s, connecting around 25m people and handling over 100 events. Back then, colleagues are still hugging, and wearing a homemade mask to work would have elicited strange looks.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how the economy and behaviour will fare once the pandemic subsides. What’s clear is that some of the changes that will stick around will likely be for the better. Jo Hillman, CWT’s senior director sales, UK & Ireland, mentioned how business travel will change, at least in the near future. Here are the changes:
The human connection has become incredibly important
As reported in the Harvard Business Review and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology – research shows face-to-face engagements are 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than electronic contact. Having been deprived of it for so long, we value face-to-face more than ever.
Even with the availability of self-booking tools, we’re seeing travellers want the added reassurance of speaking with an expert who can answer their questions and provide guidance. As lockdowns around the world forced our offices to close, we had to adapt and enable our employees to work remotely. To help travel counsellors use their home phones to take calls, we extended a system built to meet the varying needs of contact centre agents. We established gateways that allowed more than 1,600 employees access to their office desktop securely and supported a significant increase in concurrent VPN connectivity.
Duty of care is top of the list of priorities
Companies are looking at making changes to travel policies such as pre-trip approvals, so they can have greater visibility and control over employee travel. We’re helping our customers ensure their employees’ book through the correct channels and secure all the necessary internal approvals before travelling. Using our safety and security tools, clients can easily locate their travelling employees and assist them in making alternative travel arrangements if required. We’re finding that pre-trip approval processes go a long way to boosting confidence among travellers, too.
Travellers are seeking a lot more information prior to travelling
We’re looking at new technologies to offer information at the point of sale to help travellers make informed decisions around issues like entry requirements, quarantine restrictions, and even the last time a hotel was cleaned. CWT also partners with organisations like International SOS to send our clients and their employees’ regular alerts about developments on the ground. There’s a great deal of conjecture out there. Companies should communicate regularly with their travelling workforce and offer simple resources from reputable sources.
The day will come when international travel is a less convoluted process than it is today. When it does, valuing human connection, safety, and reputable information can only be positive lasting legacies.
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