Business travel continued to thrive despite the digital era taking off in the last decade and it’s expected to continue its growth post the pandemic recovery, and find more targeted strategic importance to the growth of organizations across almost every sector. While video and digital messaging certainly have a place in today’s business, when it comes to negotiating important contracts, interviewing senior staff for key positions, and understanding and listening to important customers, in-person meetings will ultimately provide the best impact.
Corporate leaders list relational networking, generating better leads, converting prospects, keeping customers, and investing in people as top motivations for making an in-person meeting happen. Some customers even specifically request face-to-face meetings or a visit to the office premises before closing a deal. But beyond those tangible and intangible benefits business travel brings to the corporate companies, it serves to further transport, hospitality, and other related services, and one can even expect it to continue to seduce business travelers with perks, promotions, and newer trends like bleisure.
Nevertheless, this pandemic has instilled some hesitance among a section of employees to undertake travel for many reasons. That includes health concerns, pandemic blues, complicated travel regulations, vaccination concerns, or even lack of a bit of motivation. But now that Covid-19 cases are falling, people are starting to talk about vacations and business travel again. Optimism about travel is hitting a record high, and it’s safe to travel again — well, almost. Here are some tips for travel managers and leaders on rebuilding employee confidence for business travel.
Clarity and Right Information
The first and most important step is to have a clear understanding of the crisis and what trips may be required and when. There are internal and external factors and corporates need to be clear at both levels. This can help send positive signals to the employees as it helps reduce anxieties about the unknown while setting expectations about company travel needs.
Internal details include what travel may be required, to which destinations, and who are the people that may need to travel, and when. Start with carefully considering what’s required and what’s less necessary when it comes to travel. It is important to form clear lists of short-term and mid-term requirements. Ambiguity and confusion can create anxiety and worry, and this will have a detrimental effect on your employees’ willingness to travel.
External details form the other side of the coin. Get information about the destinations, what are the recommended mode of transport and stay, and what travel regulations are in place at origin, destination as well as transit points. It is recommended that you consult your travel advisers for accurate information on these ever-changing factors. Hire crisis management professionals if the requirements are complex. Once there’s clarity over these among the top management, it needs to be clearly communicated to the employees.
Travel Support Team
While knowledge and timely information about all aspects of their upcoming trip is key to building confidence in business travelers, knowing that there is a team to rely on gives them a huge sense of belonging and boosts their confidence. As part of the corporate’s social responsibility and duty of care, it helps to build a great level of trust with employees and remove anxieties about sudden changes in regulations or fear of emergencies.
Set up a special task force of travel managers, HR representatives, and people from senior management along with travel advisers and crisis management professionals that you have hired. Ensure that someone from the team is always available for travelers in case of any emergency or change of plans. Having a reliable travel management team can give you access to better options in case of last-minute changes, delays, or cancellations.
Get the Best Services
While cost control is more important than ever during these times of recovery, investing in the right services might decide the success of a company’s travel restart program. The travel and procurement teams should be directed to carefully vet the various service options available. Cheaper flight options, for example, might give some immediate savings but comes with less flexibility. One can expect changes to regulations and services more often in these times, and these small savings could quickly turn into expensive options.
Choose reliable operators and services, preferring safety and flexibility over cost in the short to mid-term. Procure flights and transit points that follow better safety and health protocols. Choose accommodations and ground transport providers that are flexible about changes and gives that extra touch when it comes to hygiene and traveler comfort. Other expert recommendations include getting Covid-proof travel insurance, helping with getting vaccinations and testing done on time, and briefing travelers in possible alternate plans.
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Travel managers around the globe and across the industries are keen to restart their travel programs and get their organizations back on the road. However, before they take the leap, they need to take a step back to review their business travel strategies against the new normals of post-pandemic travel. Getting the right strategy in place and building confidence among employees are central to restarting travel.