The changes to business travel caused by COVID-19 may have made the traveller experience safer and healthier thanks to advanced cleaning protocols, but some changes continue to frustrate even the most experienced of road warriors. Fortunately, many of these frustrations can be mitigated or avoided entirely with a “know before you go” approach and a trusted travel partner.
This is one reason why we recommend using our Sherpa-powered Traveller Intelligence Hub to source real-time information for your upcoming trip. If you’re still in the travel planning phase though, we have listed a few pro tips below to help prepare your organization's travellers.
Book Far in Advance
Gone are the days of last-minute business trip bookings. While such trips may still happen depending on the nature of your company and business objectives, they present a challenge from a duty of care and risk management perspective. Increasingly, businesses are instating trip approval processes to ensure the safety of their travellers.
Last-minute bookings also carry higher price tags that have only increased as a result of the pandemic. Even if budget is not a concern, availability remains a barrier due to supply chain limitations and reduced staffing. Rental cars, for example, have been notoriously difficult for travellers to secure due to a global car shortage.
By working with your Travel Management Company (TMC) to book your trip far in advance, you are less likely to face challenges with securing your preferred hotel room, finding a rental car, or getting to where you need to go. Your TMC can also help you In the event of a last minute cancellation by the supplier, which are becoming more common due to shortages. In the case of flights cancellations, it's important to note that Canada passed the Air Passenger Protection Regulation to compensate and protect travellers from these types of situations.
Give Yourself Extra Time
Pre-pandemic, the most experienced traveller could calculate the time needed for travel prep, transit, and check-in without breaking a sweat. Now, due to changes in procedures and staffing shortages, those calculations have to be adjusted to reflect the increased travel times.
Social distancing and added sanitation protocols have stretched lines at security points and check-in counters, but the bigger issue is increased demand coupled with staffing shortages. From long ride sharing wait times to delayed flights and pilot shortages, almost all aspects of the traveller journey have been impacted. For instance, the much-anticipated reopening of the Canadian border came with its own share of challenges, including a now resolved labor dispute and long wait times at most border crossings.
While these delays and disruptions can be frustrating, building in extra time and booking your trip through your TMC ensures greater flexibility. At Direct Travel, we provide trip briefs and travel alerts that help travellers stay apprised of the latest changes and cancellations as soon as they happen. Our recently upgraded Direct2U mobile app can also be used to access itineraries and destination intelligence on the go, giving you greater control over managing your travel experience.
Plan for Testing Requirements
For travellers returning from or heading abroad, one of the biggest hurdles to clear is COVID-19 testing. Even for vaccinated travellers, many countries require proof of a negative COVID test for entry, including the U.S and Canada.
Not all COVID tests will satisfy requirements for all countries though. Notably, while the U.S. permits antigen tests for entry, Canada only accepts PCR tests. Additionally, there is no global, centralized resource for finding testing facilities.
This is an area where your TMC can advise you on the best route for your corporate travel program. Larger companies with frequent travellers may want to negotiate directly with test providers to secure tests for their employees. Smaller businesses may prefer to direct their travellers towards booking with suppliers that have already negotiated preferred rates for their customers, such as Delta and Aeromexico’s laboratory partnership alliance. Your TMC can help you navigate through making the testing choice that is best for your travellers and your business.
Download the Traveller Journey Guide
The traveller journey has evolved and will continue to do so as more countries reopen and new variant threats emerge. However, with the right tools and a trusted travel partner, you can be prepared for these changes rather than placing your business in a reactive mode and catching your travellers off-guard.
In addition to the resources mentioned above, Direct Travel has created our Guide to the New Traveller Journey to take you from start to finish as you or your travellers prepare to travel again. Download it below or share with your travellers to get started.