See how Egencia can help you increase your travelers’ confidence and support their wellbeing.
By Diana Hoffman, director, product marketing
Every business leader today faces the challenge of balancing business growth with considerations of employees’ mental health and wellbeing. This applies whether your employees are working remotely, at the office, or traveling for work.
The pandemic elevated travel risk management to a whole new level and fundamentally reshaped the approach to business travel. These changes are likely to be in place forever. Business travel now requires that organizations have more knowledge to create strong duty of care policies in their travel management programs and that travel providers closely monitor the industry for any changes that impact its customers.
A June 2020 survey of Egencia customers showed that nearly 90 percent of travel managers believe their companies will resume some level of business travel before January 2021. The survey also revealed that one-third of travel managers said employee unwillingness to travel is preventing their return to travel. Employees need to feel confident about traveling for work, which means they need information that assures them they are fully supported from planning and booking to returning home. You need on-demand insights that empower you to make fast, informed choices about essential and non-essential travel and your travel program and policies.
The Egencia Travel Advisor delivers meaningful, accurate information for you and your business travelers about COVID-19 related impacts to domestic and international travel. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 traveling.
Demonstrate the importance of traveler wellbeing
A first step to rebuild the confidence of your travelers is to demonstrate the importance of their wellbeing. Giving travelers access to up-to-date travel policy information lets them know you're putting their wellbeing first. It also allows you to balance travel with duty of care obligations.
Consider updating the basics of your corporate travel program by providing a travel kit and checklist for necessary safety measures. Traveler support services and supplies are now a minimum level of travelers' expectations, in the same way that providing a computer to a new employee is necessary for them to work. Your new travel kit may include:
- Payment or reimbursement of costs for COVID-19 testing as required by a country or state of entry
- Distribution of proper face masks, hand sanitizer and other PPE prior to travel
- Seat booking guidance
- Per diem flexibility to support employee wellbeing
Guide travelers to make preferred, more compliant booking choices
Countries and regions continue to impose and lift travel bans and restrictions. 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, travelers.
Country-level information can inform your decisions about international and domestic travel and travel policy settings. This information can also save your travelers potential frustrations. For example, if a border is completely or partially restricted, you can decide to require security approval or set a specific policy for the country, territory or region based on traveler origin.
Country-level information about higher risk locations can also 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, that empower you to support your travelers’ wellbeing. Use the Egencia Travel Advisor to inform ongoing changes to travel policies, then set your rules for every travel category 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 because it's a highly valued tool for growth — it's crucial to an organization's bottom-line, employees perception of the prioritization of their welfare, and meeting business and 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 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 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 to show they are ethical and empathetic — putting employees’ wellbeing above saving money with, for example, travel kits and direct flights versus stopovers. Ensuring your travelers have access to information about supplier protocols can enhance your their experiences and sense of wellbeing. For example, knowing self-quarantine will not be mandatory after a certain date can help reassure your travelers when they book their trip. Similarly, easy access to suppliers’ safety and destination information when booking helps travelers educate themselves and feel confident about traveling.
Gain greater predictability and control
The pandemic has resulted in a dynamic travel environment that sometimes requires fast decision-making. Up-to-date information enables you to quickly assess domestic and international travel and respond to changes when regulations shifts. This also lets you and your travelers have confidence that the information is up to date.
Specific travel information can be used to feed the traveler messages you can place directly in the Egencia platform. For example, if a particular airport is increasing health screening protocols, you can use the Egencia traveler messaging features to post a prominently displayed travel policy for flight results. Visual guidance can also inform and guide bookers on the most preferred, policy-compliant travel choices for their trip.
Less stringent quarantine requirements could indicate a need for proactive traveler communications about the broader access to various destinations. You can provide directional information to your travelers with meaningful, real-time updates at every stage of their 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 apps.
Directional information empowers travel managers to help travelers make safer, more compliant choices before and during their trips. And, if the unexpected does occur, it helps ensure travelers’ have access to relevant, reliable, in-the-moment support and expert guidance.
Making connections in person delivers a number of benefits — innovation, a deeper and more diverse perspective from new experiences and powerful insights that help build relationships that generate more value, faster. This all now comes with new considerations for costs and traveler wellbeing.
The travel manager has emerged from 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 it's certain that 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 that you and your travelers can easily and confidently navigate your return to travel.