See how Egencia can help you increase your travelers’ confidence and support their wellbeing.
By Diana Hoffman, Director of Product Marketing
All business leaders today face a new challenge - balancing business growth with new considerations for employees’ mental health and wellbeing when working remotely, in returning to the office, or while traveling for work.
The pandemic elevated travel risk management to a whole new level, fundamentally re-shaping the approach to business travel, likely forever. Business travel now requires much more knowledge and ability from the company, the travel management function and from the travel provider.
A June 2020 survey of Egencia clients showed nearly 90% of Travel Managers believe their companies will resume some level of business travel before January 2021. In this same survey, a third of Travel Managers shared that employee unwillingness to travel is preventing their return to travel. Employees need to feel confident about traveling for work. They need information that assures them they are fully supported from planning to booking to returning home. And you need on-demand insights that empower you to make fast, informed choices about essential and non-essential travel, your travel program and policies.
The Egencia Travel Advisor delivers meaningful, accurate information to you and your business travelers about COVID-related impacts to travel in and outside of the United States. This new tool gives you on-demand access to:
- Country-level data - Many countries and regions have imposed travel bans and restrictions on who can enter or exit. These restrictions can change daily, affecting decisions about booking business trips – by air travel, car or train.
- Procedural information – Procedures include health, medical care, safety and other standards or requirements imposed by the CDC, governments, airlines and airports.
- Directional information – Restrictions and procedures can change frequently. Knowing, at-a-glance, whether a country is tightening, or loosening, restrictions can help guide your travel policies.
Travel Managers can increase travelers’ confidence in their wellbeing by helping ensure they are well-Informed about the new travel landscape. Here are four ways you can use data from Egencia and the Egencia Travel Advisor to make more effective policy decisions and increase your travelers’ confidence in returning to travel.
Demonstrate the importance of traveler wellbeing
A first step in rebuilding the confidence of your travelers is demonstrating the importance of their wellbeing. Access to up-to-date procedural information ensures you are equipped to show to your travelers how they can travel in the context of their wellbeing, while at the same time balancing travel with Duty of Care obligations.
Consider updating the basics of your corporate travel program by provisioning a “travel kit” and “checklist” for necessary safety measures.” Traveler support services and supplies are now minimum level expectations for travelers, in the same way provisioning a computer to a new employee is necessary for them to effectively perform their job. Your new travel kit may include:
- Payment or reimbursement of costs for COVID-19 testing as required by country/state of entry
- Distribution of proper face masks, hand sanitizer and other PPE prior to travel
- Seat booking guidance
- Per diem flexibility in support of employee wellbeing
Guide travelers to make preferred, more compliant booking choices
Countries and regions continue to impose and then lift travel bans and restrictions and, as a result, your travelers may need to adjust their travel plans. At the most extreme, countries are completely closed, prohibiting nationals or other passengers from arriving. Borders can also be partially closed, with restrictions applicable to some, but not all, passengers.
Country-level information can inform your decisions about international and domestic travel, and travel policy settings, information that can also save your travelers potential frustrations. For example, if a border is all, or partially, restricted you can decide to require security approval or to set a policy for the country, territory, or area based on traveler origin.
Similarly, country level information about higher risk locations can guide your choices about increasing or easing travel program controls like mandated pre-trip approvals. With Egencia, you can easily build, change and personalize policies, such as high-risk destination configuration, empowering you to support your travelers’ wellbeing. Use the Egencia Travel Advisor to inform ongoing changes to travel policies, then set your rules for all travel categories in one, centralized space and instantly apply travel policy and approval policy changes across all booking channels.
Inform your supply negotiations
Business travel is coming back, as it is a highly valued tool for growth – crucial to an organizations’ bottom-line, employees’ perception of the prioritization of their welfare, and meeting business / employee engagement goals. This next phase of travel is an opportunity to reimagine and strategically reset your organization’s travel program in cooperation with your leadership team.
Egencia gives your bookers access to procedural information about hygiene and other safety standards directly in the booking path. You can also access actionable insights about pandemic-related travel impacts in our Help Center, including links to supplier policy information. Understanding supplier protocols can inform decisions about travel policies and preferred supplier agreements. For example, reviewing cancellation policy flexibility and similar factors will help you to protect your travel spend and to embed efficiencies and savings across your travel program.
While cost and compliance were key measures of success pre-COVID, successfully competing in the global marketplace now requires businesses show they are both ethical and empathetic—putting employees’ wellbeing above saving money (e.g., travel kits, direct flights vs. stopovers.). Ensuring your travelers have access to information about supplier protocols in the context of their wellbeing can enhance your travelers’ experiences. For example, knowing self-quarantine will not be mandatory after a certain date can help reassure your travelers at the time of purchase. Similarly, easy access to suppliers’ safety and destination information while booking helps travelers educate themselves and feel confident about returning to travel.
Gain greater predictability and control
The pandemic has resulted in a dynamic travel environment that sometimes requires fast decision-making. Directional information enables you to quickly assess domestic and international travel and respond to changes with informed actions. Knowing the last date a regulation changed can give you and your travelers confidence the information is up to date.
Directional information can be used to feed the traveler messages you can place directly within Egencia. For example, if a particular airport is increasing health screening protocols, you can use Egencia’s traveler messaging features to post a prominently displayed travel policy for flight results. Visual guidance can both inform and guide bookers on the most preferred, policy-compliant travel choices for their trip.
Similarly, a sign of less stringent quarantine requirements could indicate a need for proactive traveler communications about broader access to various destinations. You can use directional information to provide your travelers with meaningful, real-time updates at every stage of the travel journey. With Egencia you can deliver these updates through multiple communication channels including dynamic messages throughout the entire booking path and emergency push notifications to travelers’ mobile app.
Directional information empowers Travel Managers to help travelers make safer, more compliant choices before and during their trips. And, if the unexpected does occur, to help ensure travelers’ access to relevant, reliable, in-the-moment support and expert guidance.
Making connections in person leads to many benefits—innovation, diversity resulting from new experiences and learning, powerful insights that help build relationships that generate more value, faster. But all this now comes with new considerations for costs and traveler wellbeing.
The Travel Manager has emerged from within the pandemic with a business-critical role, focused on travel risk management and increasing traveler wellbeing. Travel managers, in partnership with executive leaders, should be creating systematic ways for their organizations to reduce risk by defining new travel guidelines. Data is key to making informed decisions about guidelines and policy that reflect the risk tolerance of the organization.
No one can say with any certainty what travel will look like tomorrow, but for certain, traveler wellbeing is top of mind for most organizations. Egencia Travel Advisor paired with our COVID-19 FAQ Guide delivers information with technology-driven efficiencies, so both you and your travelers can more easily and confidently navigate your return to travel.