As the global travel network continues its gradual road to recovery, we are working with our clients on reshaping their business travel policies to reflect a life including Covid-19.
A regular question we are currently being asked here at Good Travel Management (GTM) is ‘What elements of our travel policy should we update as a reflection of this pandemic?’. We believe that to solve this question, you need to focus on adjusting 3 key core components of your existing policy including:
- Overall guidelines
- Air Policy
- Hotel Policy
Overall Travel policy guidelines
Let`s start at the beginning, your travel policy guidelines ordinarily spell out the basics of how travel bookings should be made, class of travel, spend limits, how you would create a travel profile, GDPR, how to pay for travel and information on approval processes. Over recent years this has grown further into other aspects such as safety and wellbeing, carbon footprint and risk management. However, in a rapidly changing environment, there are fundamental themes which must be incorporated.
Firstly, ensure your policy only approves travel bookings to be made through your preferred channels to ensure you can track who is where at any given time. By doing so, this ensures your organisation can keep track of your employees’ previous, current, and up and coming trips, where your employees have been, where they now are and where they are going to. Our clients here at (GTM) who consolidate their travel programme through us are benefitting from having complete visibility to all trips so they can create a temporary pre-trip approval process for high-risk Covid-19 destinations. Any emergency processes including tools and contacts used for travel risk-management need to be detailed clearly in your updated policy guidelines, which is a key message we share with our clients and business partners when consulting on their travel policies.
Secondly, your policy guidelines should outline a mandatory update of all existing traveller profiles which will ensure all emergency contact details and passenger data is up to date. This reduces the risk of missing key traveller data at the airport and will eliminate any unnecessary interactions with airport staff thus making the check-in and boarding process as contactless as possible. Furthermore, if you have employees who do have to be overseas for essential work, you need to be able to contact and update them should any circumstances happen either in the country they are working in or back within the UK. Traveller risk management dashboards and apps are ideal for these situations and enable a business to have complete oversight and to respond rapidly, something we have written about in our blog ‘Tools to protect your employees abroad’.
Thirdly, within your updated guidelines share some safety and hygiene recommendations with your travellers including guidance on maintaining hygiene standards and social distance measures whilst travelling on businesses, and what to do if an employee was ill or needed medical support.
Don’t forget to make sure your employees feel they have enough information about traveller risks, restrictions, travel insurance and assistance provided by their employer whilst they`re travelling, all of which falls under a company’s ‘Corporate Manslaughter’ responsibilities.
A final adjustment to your policy guidelines should be determining guidelines for who can travel and what is deemed as essential or business-critical and allowing authorisors to reject certain trips during this current period if needed.
Historically, who remembers when air travel policies guided travellers to secure flights in advance to secure upfront savings discounts? Watch out! In this new Covid-19 era guidance should be given to booking nearer to the time of booking with air ticket costs being reduced short-term because airlines are aspiring to stimulate demand, whilst low-cost carriers are returning earlier than normal with “competitive” pricing.
Your Air policy should also promote that your employees book flexible air tickets so they can change/cancel with little penalty in the event of any variations to the current outlook. The air policy can be used to restrict air bookings to widespread and high-risk Covid-19 areas and to limit the number of travellers per flight
Don`t forget to remind your employees to make sure they utilise any unused air tickets/credits because of the recent flight distributions so these previously paid costs can be offset against future flights.
Now let us look at your current hotel policy. Whilst we live in this new era of increased cleanliness and safety, make sure your policy highlights preferred hotels that are adhering to newly introduced hygiene initiatives, social distance measures, and contactless check-in/out processes to ensure the safety of your employees. It will be important that you can easily recognise Hotels that adhere to the minimum guidelines set. We are currently working hard with hotel groups and our technology partners to ensure our clients have access to this information by setting alerts in our online booking tool to highlight which Hotels are recommended.
Your policy can now also promote the use of flexible hotel rates which can be cancelled effortlessly, whilst adjusting any set hotel rate caps which are enabling your travellers more flexibility in this era whilst prioritising their safety. This may be a temporary measure and be seen as increasing cost, but as travel is likely to be less frequent in the short term it is better to ensure it is done well and your employee’s well-being and safety is to the fore.
At GTM we believe each business we work with deserves a Travel Policy designed around each clients’ requirements. Some businesses may still have blanket bans on travel, whereas in some sectors they cannot trade without UK or overseas travel. There`s only a short time today to go through a few of the potential ideas and suggestions we have, however, we would be happy to set up a call or video meeting to discuss how we can support you further by working in partnership with you through GT Consulting.
We will continue to answer further travel policy and post Covid-19 questions within our series of blogs or if there is something you would like to know more about, do please get in touch.