Corporate Travel Management – 3 Min Read
Corporates and business travel – The current scenario
Vice President, Sales
It has been close to five months since organizations across the globe started canceling or suspending business travel in the wake of the current pandemic. As early as Mar 2020, 65% of global organizations said that they have modified their travel safety and security policies for their travelers and have instituted new travel approval procedures. These numbers have changed drastically over the last few months as the coronavirus spread alarmingly. A GBTA poll done in Jun 2020 revealed that 94% of companies have canceled or suspended most or all international trips while 82% of companies have canceled or suspended most or all domestic travel within their own country. The situation hasn’t changed much since then. Non-essential business travel continues to be restricted and employers have made business travel approvals stringent.
So how are businesses dealing with this new norm?
Corporate travel teams continue to monitor public information from the Government and organizations like WHO to communicate timely updates to their employees. Most firms are taking a case-by-case approach where travel decisions are made by employees and their managers after consulting the Government and health authorities’ recommendations as well as quarantine rules prevalent at each destination city. If a decision to travel is taken, then travel teams focus on assessing the best possible means of travel for their employees.
Will all this change post the COVID-19 crisis?
Not really. Safety risks from the pandemic may remain for some time and the lockdown has got companies to realize the ease and effectiveness of virtual collaborative platforms. In addition to this, considering the huge economic impact that COVID-19 has had globally, companies will be more conscious of travel spends and will look to effectively utilize technology instead. Travel will be taken up as an option only when remote working is not viable to close deliverables. Industry experts predict that it would take another 4-5 months more for domestic travel to return to normalcy and about a year for international travel.
How does the near future look like?
With the resurgence of COVID-19 in various towns and cities, most companies are likely to take a phased approach to restart business travel, with more thought, put in, and communicating the employer’s plans across the company to ensure that all teams are aligned. This will include engaging in conversations with clients and other stakeholders to determine the staffing of projects and when meetings can be held remotely. In addition to client expectations, employers will also be evaluating and managing employee expectations regarding travel. Employers will be assessing how they can make employees feel more comfortable and safer when traveling.
Meanwhile, as the coronavirus crisis enters the third quarter of this year, corporate organizations will continue to focus on a) Trying to bring back their employees home safely b) Maintain agreements in the wake of an almost complete business travel shutdown and c) Communicate updates to employees about possibilities of future business travel plans.
As of now it is anybody’s guess as to when the world would finally conquer the COVID-19 crisis and while all forces struggle to have the virus under control, few areas like 1) Enhanced duty-of-care practices, 2) Reduced corporate travel costs and 3) Faster adoption of technology for travel management would be the areas where companies would focus to ensure that they effectively manage any scenarios that may unfold in the future.