The world has changed during the coronavirus pandemic. Make sure to update your travel policy so that your business changes along with it.
The travel industry is starting to see signs of recovery. On Aug. 16, for example, more fliers passed through TSA checkpoints than any date since March 17. Travelers returning to airports are reengaging with a changed travel industry — which is why it’s time to update your travel policy to change with it.
How should you update your travel policy? The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) recently conducted a survey of 2,167 business travel buyers that asks how their companies are adjusting their approaches in the second half of 2020. See below to learn more about the GBTA’s findings.
How Policies are Changing
Individual businesses are updating travel policies in unique ways. But the GBTA survey does provide data on common trends and approaches to travel in a post-COVID-19 world. Here’s a look at some of the survey’s results:
- 53% of respondents have new rules about pre-trip approval
- 35% of respondents have more frequent or more detailed pre-trip communication
- 24% of respondents are gathering health information (include details about exposure and preexisting conditions) from travelers
- 22% of respondents are clarifying or changing their rules on unused tickets and credits
For most companies, the changes are more than subtle. About 70% of respondents indicated that their companies’ changes to travel policies were either “somewhat” or “a lot.”
Travel-Related Communication During a Pandemic
Communication is one of the most prominent themes around changing travel policies in the age of COVID-19. It’s important that travel suppliers stay in constant communication with the businesses that use their services. It’s also important that Executives and Travel Managers communicate regularly with their Travelers.
Most respondents to the GBTA survey (68%) indicated that they are getting ample communication regarding safety protocols like sanitation and cleaning practices at hotels and airports, as well as on airplanes. That said, another 24% of respondents indicated they would like to have more information and better communication. Similarly, 49% of respondents suggest they are getting enough communication about new check-in processes, rescheduled flights and other changes to operations. But 37% of respondents want more and better communication regarding operations.
Are Companies Returning to Travel?
The GBTA survey also asked about when companies are planning to return to travel. Responses to this question were broken down by geography. Here are the different categories that respondents in the United States fell into:
- 24% plan to resume travel in the next 1–3 months
- 41% are considering returning to travel but have no timeline
- 21% do not plan to resume traveling in the near future
- 14% are unsure of their travel plans
Along with Canada (22%), more companies in the United States are planning to resume travel in the next 1–3 months than any other geography captured. Comparatively, the survey found that only 11% of respondents in the Asia Pacific region are planning to return to travel in the next 1–3 months.
Things are different on the international travel front. An American passport doesn’t allow travelers to visit many countries right now, which serves as a serious constraint. In fact, as of Sept. 2, Americans could only visit 86 countries without a visa — a drop from 171 countries in 2019. Among GBTA survey respondents who had canceled some international travel due to COVID-19, 16% expect to restart international travel in the next 2–3 months. Another 40% expect to travel internationally in the next 8 months. And, finally, 25% remain unsure when international travel will resume.
COVID-19’s Impact on Suppliers
As you consider updating your travel policy, keep in mind that COVID-19 has seriously impacted travel suppliers, too. Many hotels and airlines, specifically, have struggled during the pandemic-related downturn. The GBTA survey asked several questions of these travel suppliers. Here’s what the survey found:
- 81% of suppliers have furloughed employees in 2020
- 78% of suppliers have laid off employees in 2020
- 53% of suppliers have returned to work some or all of furloughed employees
It’s never good news when the vast majority of suppliers have reduced their workforces during the pandemic. But the last bullet — the 53% of suppliers who are bringing back workers — should serve as a faint silver lining and provide hope that the worst is now behind the travel industry.
Your Travel Policy Experts
Crafting the right travel policy for your business can be a challenge. At JTB Business Travel, we work with a wide range of businesses, providing comprehensive services that help them make the most of their investments in business travel. We can even help your team create a travel policy that works for your business and its traveling team members.
Contact us today to learn more about our travel policy services.