There are many things we couldn’t have imagined doing a year ago – wearing a surgeon’s mask to buy groceries, working solely from home, and embracing tasks we once loathed. Along with filing taxes and tackling the kitchen junk drawer, getting approval for a trip used to be a tedious but necessary part of life. The pandemic has changed that. Some people are more reluctant to fly due to fear of contracting the virus and even where travel is permitted, are looking for reassurance that they’re making the right decisions. The pre-trip approval process has morphed from last year’s tedium to this year’s source of comfort for business travelers.
Meanwhile, companies have rushed to put measures in place as part of their duty of care obligations. Our research shows that 66% of travel buyers said their company is less likely than before the pandemic to allow travelers to book directly with suppliers.
“Pre-trip is getting more complex and important,” says David Zimmer, CWT’s Head of Travel Experience & Optimisation, “There are layers of what’s considered safe and unsafe travel and that changes every week. It used to be that clients only required a subset of their travelers to go through pre-trip approvals. Now they pretty much want everything to go through the process.”
An active role
The pre-trip approval process can help employees perceive their plans as safe, helping to reduce stress and boost productivity. “Being able to return to travel with confidence is one of the most critical things for our clients and their employees,” says David Zimmer, “Our solutions help our clients manage duty of care and drive program and policy compliance, which is critical to their employees’ health and the health of their travel program.”
“In the first instance, it’s less about the approval of a specific flight and more about other factors for travelers,” he says, “Does the government allow it? Does my company feel it’s a safe trip and do I feel it’s safe?”
CWT’s suite of trip approval options ranges from passive to active approaches. Passive approaches such as Program Messenger allows a client to create and customize notifications to the traveler and the approvers. The tool informs the traveler when they are about to make an out-of-policy decision but won’t keep them from making the booking.
“Many prefer an active approach in the current climate,” says David, “one in which the client can implement a ‘hard stop’ approval process to support their travelers in making good decisions for themselves and for the company. CWT has a range of automated trip approval solutions that can actively assess and implement travel policies to provide confidence in employees’ travel choices, while also removing most of the work for the employee and the approver – or multiple approvers, as is more often the case today.”
CWT's global team of professional and connected travel counselors help employees navigate the complexities of post-COVID travel and support clients in making safe, productive, and enjoyable travel decisions.
The bigger picture
Along with a pre-trip approval process, providing travelers with updated information on how to return to travel – include tools to quickly search travel restrictions – will be key. Even as the introduction of a vaccine promises a brighter future, pre-trip approval will continue to play a key role in ensuring a confident return to travel.