Advisories and alerts: What your business travelers need to know
By Diana Hoffman, director of product marketing
In a recent blog I discussed ways travel managers can use travel advisory data to help inform policy decisions, increase predictability and control within their programs and to guide travelers to make preferred, more compliant choices. In this article we will explore how your travelers can use advisory travel information and the Egencia® Travel Advisor to prepare for their upcoming travel plans and trips.
But first, let’s look at the differences between alerts and advisories and why governments issue them.
Travel alerts are issued, often by embassies and consulates, for specific security or safety concerns. They address short-term events travelers need to know about, like a large public event.
Travelers can use alerts to make decisions about their bookings. For example, if a demonstration is planned for a particular section of a city your traveler will likely want to book a hotel outside that area.
Egencia proactively communicates daily travel alerts to travel managers, highlighting safety concerns, helping to guide your policy decisions. Travelers are pushed detailed alerts to the Egencia mobile app on their phone within one hour of impacting events. And, you and your corporate travelers always have on-demand access to travel alerts on the Egencia home page plus more detailed information, updated in near real-time, on Egencia’s online Travel News.
When a temporary concern becomes a longer-term situation, governments will issue a travel advisory.
Travel advisories are issued to inform citizens about more specific, longer-term, higher risk concerns. They may be for cities, countries or other geographic areas and address severe weather events, natural disasters, mass protests or political unrest, terrorism, and public health concerns, such as COVID-19. Advisories may change frequently, depending on the nature of the concern, but can also be static for weeks or months.
Risk levels that generally range from “exercise normal precautions” to “do not travel” are used to indicate the severity of advisories. It is good to note: as the spread of COVID-19 changes, a particular city or an area may be considered riskier and so assigned a higher risk level than a country overall.
Travel advisories generally cannot legally stop a traveler from entering a particular destination. That is why it is important to ensure your travel policies and approval processes are up-to-date and reflect your program’s current definition of essential and permissible business travel. Read about best practices for defining essential vs. non-essential travel.
Egencia® Travel Advisor
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many governments issuing travel advisories as well as requirements for actions such as 14-dayself-quarantine upon arrival and the use of PPE. Travel is different now and it is important for you and your travelers to plan ahead so you can arrive prepared. The Egencia Travel Advisor is a tool you and your travelers can use to find out about advisories for travel during COVID-19, including regulations for destinations, and safety and health guidelines.
Because restrictions can change daily, we encourage travelers to check the Egencia Travel Advisor before booking and again before their departure. Here are five things we encourage you to help your business travelers keep in mind as they return to travel:
- Entry restrictions - Many countries and regions have imposed travel bans and restrictions on who can enter or exit. Some have limited entry to citizens, permanent residents, select visa holders or essential travelers. Entry restrictions can change frequently, affecting decisions about booking business trips – by air travel, car or train. Travelers need to know before they book and before they depart whether they can enter their destination.
- Transit restrictions – Some airports have requirements for connecting destinations. For example, transit through an airport may be allowed only if a traveler does not need to go through customs. Travelers need to know if these added restrictions will apply to their trip so they can book and plan appropriately.
- Quarantine policies: Travelers may be subject to mandatory self-quarantine upon arrival. In some cases, they must show proof of their suitable space for self-isolating and access to food and supplies without the need to go to a store. Other countries require managed isolation, meaning travelers are assigned a room in a managed isolation facility for the duration of their stay.
- Health and health care documents: Medical documentation requirements include proof of negative COVID-19 test results from within a certain timeframe before departure with some countries require testing results from a member state or certified entity. Similarly, some countries require all travelers undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival.
Many destinations also require travelers, including residents, to complete a public passenger locator form before departure. The information is used to contact travelers in the event they or someone they may have been in contact with during their journey develops COVID-19 symptoms. Governments also use the information to check on travelers in quarantine. Forms are generally mandatory, even for travelers who do not have to self-quarantine upon arrival, and fines may be issued to travelers not submitting a completed form.
- Masks (PPE): Some cities are requiring travelers to wear masks at all times while on public transport or in public, where social distancing cannot be done. Having this information ahead of time can help your travelers to plan appropriately and pack any supplies needed for their business trip.
Knowing the difference between a travel alert and a travel advisory can help your travelers understand what they need to consider before their next trip. The Egencia Travel Advisor is helpful starting point, providing your travelers with advisory information they need to plan and prepare for domestic and international travel. Sharing this resource along with our COVID-19 Business Travel Guide and FAQs with your travelers are ways is one way you can help them be well-informed so they can travel with confidence, knowing they are cared for while on their trip.