COVID-19 has changed nearly every organization; it’s certainly changed the business travel world. Despite benefitting from video conferencing services (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, and Skype) we have realized 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/or 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 traveling employees.
Keep your travelers informed
We’re also seeing companies and travelers seeking a lot more information prior to traveling. In response, we are introducing new tools and technologies to help travelers 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 organizations like International SOS to send our clients and their traveling 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 duty of care, will be paramount. Booking within a company’s authorized booking channel will be even more relevant for buyers and travelers - keeping the traveler 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 travelers are at a given point in time, as well as where they have traveled 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 realize $12.50 in incremental revenue. Furthermore, a survey of business travelers 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.
Blog author: Danièle Gadbois, Vice President, Head of Sales – North America