Business travel in 2022: The new rules
Business Travel, a sector that took one of the biggest hits during the pandemic, is slowly beginning to show a steady rise again. But will it ever reach the pre-pandemic levels anytime soon?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought all of the global travel to an astounding halt. Although it was evident that corporate travel would see a much slower return than personal travel, the first half of 2021 showed some relief for U.S travel agencies. A significant part of this was attributed to the successful vaccine rollout and the updated guidelines from the CDC (Centre of Disease Control and Prevention), which marked travel as safe for vaccinated people.
In light of such developments, it’s safe to question how enterprises can prepare themselves for the next phase of corporate travel?
This article covers this question and elaborates on the different ways in which business executives can begin to plan the post-pandemic phase of corporate travel. Let’s get started!
How can businesses approach the future of corporate travel?
- Leadership teams must spend time understanding how to help their teams feel safe and confident during business travel. Businesses need to also map efficient and effective plans to help their teams transition
- These plans must consider all relevant players/processes in its ecosystem – suppliers (airline companies, hotel chains, cab services, and other ride-sharing companies), travel middlemen (travel agencies, planners, and other OTAs)
- Businesses need to relook corporate travel reimbursements and expense policies to refine the reporting system and improve employee expense management
Let’s now take a closer look at two of the most critical facets facing business travel.
Airline travel and hotel accommodations
To start, we’ll first address one of the biggest questions of our time: “Is air travel a safe option?”
The vast majority of airline companies worldwide have taken their cleaning and disinfection game up a notch by using HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that recycle and refresh the cabin air every 3 minutes. This makes it highly unlikely for any traveling passenger to contract an illness while onboard the plane.
Keep in mind that while sitting on any contaminated surface is not bound to make you sick, touching the surface with your hands and then placing them on your face will boost those chances.
Booking flight tickets
- Once you have decided to make the trip, ensure you thoroughly check on the travel restrictions and guidelines that have been released by the governments of both countries (source and destination.)
- Keep in mind that these restrictions can be updated at any given time and so it would be wise to be in constant touch with your travel agent or team.
Your standard travel insurance is not going to cover losses faced due to the pandemic. If you aren’t too sure about your insurance coverage, thoroughly read through its fine print to look for minor details.
But then, how can you restrict the chances of losing money?
Purchase independent insurance that offers the “cancel anytime” or “I changed my mind” coverage. This ensures that you can recover at least one part of your expenses if the trip is canceled. Keep in mind that while most travel insurances can be purchased till the day before the trip, ones like “cancel anytime” need to be paid for when purchasing the ticket.
How to stay safe during air travel?
- Always keep a pack of disinfecting wipes or an alcohol-based sanitizer (95% alcohol.)
- Use either of the above to disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tray tables, TV screens, remotes, armrests, and other overhead buttons.
- Human excrement contains viruses. So if you do use the lavatory onboard a plane, ensure the lid is closed before you flush to minimize airborne particles.
How to stay safe during hotel accommodation?
- Wash your hands thoroughly once you’ve checked in.
- As in the airline, wipe all commonly touched surfaces with disinfecting wipes. Everything from handles, remotes (AC and TV), clocks, phones, switches, etc.
- For added safety, use your own bedding (pillows/blankets) and ditch the ones at the hotel. Or, if that would be too much luggage to carry, you can ask the hotel staff to provide you with fresh sheets that haven’t been used yet.
Some general tips for safety
- Wash your hands at regular intervals and always wash for 20-30 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, ears, mouth) while outside.
- Try to avoid handshakes (hard on a business trip, but the lesser contact you have, the more likely you are to prevent contraction.)
- Always, always cover your nose and mouth with your hands, tissue, or elbow while sneezing or coughing.
- Maintain a safe distance (5-6 feet) from sick individuals.
- Carry essential medication while traveling to prevent the hassle of tracking down a pharmacy in a new location.
- If sick, wear a face mask to prevent the spread of diseases to those around you.
- Stick to digital payments instead of offering cash.
- Get plenty of rest, keep yourself well hydrated and stay away from crowded places.
While it’s true that corporate travel is on the rise again, some travelers will have to adapt more quickly to these ongoing changes if their jobs demand so.
Unpredictability is going to be a new normal in life. Still, it has become inevitable that as long as everyone does their duty well (by being innovative and leveraging the needed technologies for travel expense reporting ), business travel can be continued with ease.