How employers can adapt to business travel turbulence
Travel over the past 18 months has been undoubtedly turbulent. With travel corridors opening and closing, a flashing UK traffic light system, and in-person conferences cancelled or postponed across the globe, business travel quickly came to an abrupt halt.
With an efficient vaccination programme and many events beginning to move from virtual to face-to-face, now is the time for businesses to put travel back on their agenda. However, business leaders should take advantage of this pause on travel and consider methods to revolutionise their policies and processes.
Supporting the employee travel experience
Business travelers are now facing more screenings, longer waiting times, potential quarantines and refusal of entry. While remote working means more employees will have greater capacity to travel, employers need to be flexible and adjust to employee requirements when it comes to safety and compliance. As travel moves towards pre-pandemic levels, prioritising safety, security and quality is vital, and it’s important for business travelers to travel with confidence and feel supported through their journey.
With this in mind, employers need to maintain a consistent stream of communication with employees in order to protect their wellbeing and meet the changes to the business travel sector. Technology, in particular flexible booking platforms, can help with this, and will provide businesses and their employees the tools that they need to find verified and vetted accommodation with safety precautions, such as enhanced cleaning and flexible cancellations, in place.
By leveraging the right tools, companies will not only protect their employees, but can make the concept of working from anywhere a reality. Giving employees the confidence to travel again will be the first step for businesses to take in post-COVID recovery.
The pandemic has also led to a re-evaluation of expectations when it comes to the corporate travel experience, particularly in terms of both the duration and type of accommodation. With the vaccine roll out picking up pace globally, the industry is currently in a transition period where it must take the relevant steps to meet changing demands.
Employees may be taking fewer trips due to the pandemic, but these trips are becoming longer. With major organisations, including Apple, delaying plans to go back to the office, digital nomads will be industry standard as more jobs become remote. With 45% of companies set to take more control of the reservation process by requiring strict compliance with their prescribed travel policies, safe and high quality travel has never been more important. It’s now up to organisations to assess the traditional processes that they have in place.
Employees’ priorities have also now changed. These include pet-friendly accommodation as well as larger and more accessible space that is work-from-home ready to meet their diversified needs brought about during the pandemic. With a greater need for safe and hygienic accommodation, as well as flexibility around travel restrictions, employers need to prioritise duty of care to make sure expectations are not only met, but exceeded.
The future face of business travel
Undoubtedly, the future of business travel recovery is not just down to restrictions, but the attitudes and culture around the return to global travel. Since the pandemic, organisations have noticed that long-term flexible working arrangements and remote relocation are possible. Now with remote working being the new normal, the industry has the chance to make another shift, this time to going digital.
Technology is empowering businesses by helping them adopt more dynamic travel policies, enabling employees to make long-term travel choices that align with the growing trend of booking a ‘workcation’. Not only does this encourage a culture of transparency, but it also reinforces trust between employers and employees. With 68% of employees currently booking business travel with the help of online tools, we now need to look ahead to the benefits of the industry going fully digital.
Duty of care towards employees has become increasingly important during the pandemic. By offering comprehensive customer experience with extended stay options, including project assignment, relocation and long-term client engagement, data-driven technology platforms with integrated information security systems are helping to make the process safe, secure and efficient from start to finish. It may be a while before we get back to pre-pandemic levels of travel, but we can ensure that care for employees will now take precedence.