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Key to traveller confidence? Flexibility and wellbeing

Post-pandemic travel anxiety. It’s a thing. And while some of your team may be ready and raring to go, others have real concerns about health and safety. Not to mention the thought of quarantine, flight cancellations or unexpected border closures. Navigating a ‘povid’ world (that’s post covid, between you and me) can be tricky. Which is why, unsurprisingly, wellbeing and flexibility are both top of mind for decision makers and travel managers today. 

A recent survey by Corporate Traveller shows that people need to feel 100% sure and confident that travel is safe before they hit the road once again.

And while small- and medium-sized organisations are leading business travel’s recovery, 73% of companies said that travellers will need to feel comfortable about travel before any plans resume, while 61% want the assurance that overseas travel poses little risk. Interestingly, the need for vaccinations and COVID tests is not seen as a negative for the majority of those interviewed. Jabs and PCR swabs? Bring ‘em on. 

It goes without saying (in the current COVID-climate) that some things are still well out of a traveller’s control. Nearly 80% of our customers are waiting for restrictions to lift before business travel resumes – and believe this will provide the greatest boost in confidence.

Health check … how does your travel policy measure up?

Although 61% of our customers told us that traveller wellbeing is built into their travel policies, and with travel on hold, many have turned their attention to ironing out issues, addressing niggles, and putting wellness and wellbeing at the heart of their travel programme.  

“Quarterly reviews with our customers tended to focus on financials but that has switched to wellbeing, duty of care and sustainability. It’s a bit of a health check – and looking at ways to improve,” says James McIlvenna, Head of Account Management at Corporate Traveller.

“If duty of care support and wellbeing is an important part of the policy, then it builds confidence in travellers. It’s just one of the tools travel managers have to ease travellers back on the road – and with the right partners it is easy to achieve,” adds James.

Flexibility = Strength

And not just in yoga. For travellers today, flexible booking policies are just as important as restrictions lifting when it comes to overall confidence. Companies want to be able to trust the suppliers they are booking with – and not get stung by cancellation or amendment fees.

“This mirrors our approach with travel suppliers and our position as a trusted partner. After speaking to our clients, we’ve told suppliers what they’re looking for in terms of flexibility and health and safety protocols. Suppliers then use that feedback and come back to us; it’s a continuous loop,” says James.

TMCs have had to be flexible too. The chart below shows just some of what TMCs have helped customers with recently. COVID testing and Brexit-related support wasn’t something we had to think about 12 months ago and the pandemic put the spotlight firmly on travel risk and wellbeing initiatives. 

“What companies need from a TMC now is very different to a year ago. From post-Brexit visas to up-to-the-minute travel advice and 24-hour support, our value really shines through,” says James.

Great expectations

Things change quickly in a global pandemic. Our survey went out in April 2021, when the UK was still largely in lockdown. So it’s no surprise that 38% of our respondents still had no idea when travel would pick up again at their company. 46% anticipated a return to domestic business travel in the UK by July, but were more uncertain about international travel.

“It is still largely driven by government restrictions around the world. I expect travel will pick up now that some of the UK restrictions have been eased and people can travel more easily around the country,” says James. “Internationally we think many are waiting until they have at least one vaccine before they feel safe to travel again.”

But with the UK easing COVID protocols from 19 July, a successful vaccine programme, and some positive news from across the pond (Bloomberg reports that business trips are coming back faster the expected in the US) – we might just be taking to the skies sooner than expected.

Bottom line? Choose a partner that values traveller safety and wellbeing – along with hard-to-beat flexibility – as much as you do.

Want to hear how you can work any of the above into your company's travel processes and planning? Let's talk

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