COVID-19 has changed nearly every organisation; it’s certainly changed the business travel world. Despite benefitting from video conferencing services (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, and Skype) we have realised that what matters most is the human touch. The smiles. The eye contact. The ability to read a room. Coffees with colleagues or lunch with prospective clients.
The pandemic temporarily took these away. But the wheels of business are pushing forward as lockdown measures change and ease. Face-to-face interactions will return, and businesses and people are eager to thrive in new relationships, forge new ideas, prevail through innovation, and grow. Together, we can positively assist this return.
Without a doubt, the opening of green lanes between select destinations and important business travel markets like China and Singapore, as well as the gradual resumption of bigger meetings and events, are viewed as positive developments by our customers who are keen to travel and meet face-to-face again.
However, it’s still early days and companies are generally in ‘wait-and-see’ mode trying to determine the resilience and stability of these arrangements, so we can’t yet be certain how successful these initiatives will be in restoring confidence among corporates and their travelling employees.
Keep your travellers informed
We’re also seeing companies and travellers seeking a lot more information prior to travelling. In response, we are introducing new tools and technologies to help travellers make informed decisions. For example, our CWT Travel Essentials search provides information on applicable restrictions, procedures and travel requirements based on specific travel itinerary details such as trip origin, destination, travel dates and traveller nationality.
CWT also partners with organisations like International SOS to send our clients and their travelling employees’ regular safety and security alerts about developments around the world that might impact their travel plans these are sent via email and also as push notifications through our mobile app.
Stay in the system
Health and safety, as well as the duty of care, will be paramount. Booking within a company’s authorised booking channel will be even more relevant for buyers and travellers keeping the traveller inside the system will be key. Increasing hotel attachment rates (hotels being booked via the travel management company at the same time as air/rail) will be extremely important to determine where travellers are at a given point in time, as well as where they have travelled to in the past – as now a company’s duty of care may actually extend beyond the trip, for example; contact tracing purposes.
Business travel generates a lot of value for businesses. Research by Oxford Economics has shown that for every dollar invested in business travel, companies realise $12.50 in incremental revenue. Furthermore, a survey of business travellers in June 2020 by consulting firm Oliver Wyman, around three-quarters said they intend to travel the same amount or even more when restrictions are lifted.
As such, we are confident that a hugely sustainable market for business travel will return, as we emerge from this crisis. However, all stakeholders involved including travel management companies, airlines, airports, hotels and governments will need to work closely together to create an environment where companies and their employees feel confident that it’s 100% safe to travel.
Let’s talk about focusing on what matters most as you relaunch and restart business travel: We need to let everyone know that we’re open for business and have built the necessary resilience into our daily lives to ensure health & safety is paramount in everything we do.