Business as unusual: six tips for dealing with volatility in business travel

The week commencing 7th November 2016 was certainly an interesting one.

On Tuesday the 8th, the Indian prime minister announced that 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes were no longer legal tender. On the same day, Donald Trump emerged victorious in the US presidential election; the candidate had made much of his protectionist policies during his campaign.

Wednesday the 9th saw Canada start to enforce a new regulation which obliges visitors who do not require a visa to obtain an electronic travel authorization before boarding an aircraft to the country.

The week ended with trouble in New Zealand – a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the South Island, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and closing major transport links in the country.

All of these events had implications for companies with travelers visiting those countries. Yet the week was chosen at random which shows that for those whose job it is to make business travel happen smoothly and help deliver corporate objectives, every week is business as unusual.

And this is without mentioning any of the everyday glitches that affect business trips, such as flight changes, traffic jams and more, all of which can derail a perfectly planned trip.

So how can travel managers and bookers keep up to date with change? Read our six tips for anticipating change and coping with travel emergencies below:

1. Keep in touch with your TMC

24-hour out-of-hours support really comes into its own when there is a change that affects travel plans, particularly if your traveler is out on the road.  A 24-hour service year round in more than 65 countries ensures your travelers get home as quickly as possible with little hassle. Egencia estimates it saved business travelers 22,000 hours in 2015 through its AssistMe click-to-call mobile service.

2. Keep up to date with travel alerts

The Twitter feeds of the EU Foreign Offices and the US Department of State are an excellent source of travel information from around the world, covering natural and man-made disasters as well as other travel-related information.

3. Use filters

Not everyone needs to know everything. A torrent of travel alerts and other information could desensitize a traveler to something really important, making them switch off every time the notification beep comes through. Be sure to filter information so that it is only delivered to those who really need it. Ideally, your TMC sends automated alerts that are only targeted at travelers that travel to the affected regions rather than everyone.

4. Use traveler apps

In the event of everyday problems, having a communication tool in the hand of your business traveler is crucial. A travel app from your TMC, e.g. the Egencia app, notifies travelers if their flight is delayed or cancelled and offers actionable next steps, rebooking on a later flight for example, to help get the trip back on track.

5. Work with reputable and reliable partners

Travel risk management is a growing concern and risk specialist consultancies can help companies access expert advice in this area. Egencia has worked with suppliers such as International SOS for many years on providing travelers with relevant information before they travel. It is also important to have a TMC that has systems in place that let you know where your travelers are scheduled to be and to have back office processes so that you can react appropriately if/when needed.

6. Get traveler feedback

The most useful information a travel manager or booker has is often gleaned from their travelers rather than third parties. If they are not already doing so, travel managers should seek feedback from travelers on things like hotels and local issues that may affect travel, such as which restaurants and bars are safe, and share them with the other employees going out to that destination.