COVID-19 and Corporate Travel: Steps to Take Now for What Comes Next

Posted by
Cara Whitehill on March 24, 2020
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Travel managers have been on the front line of corporate travel’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Companies are in varying stages of dealing with the outbreak, but we’ve heard three common themes in how travel teams are approaching this unprecedented new reality.

  1. Employees first: Ensuring your traveling employees are safe and accounted for is priority one.
    • Assisting employees who are currently in-trip and may be subject to disruptions, whether that be cancelled flights, border closures, or immigration challenges.
    • Assessing recent travel (both business and personal trips) to determine whether employees may have been exposed to COVID-19.
    • For at-risk employees, working with your HR and Risk Management teams to determine the best course of action regarding quarantining. For example, an employee who recently returned from a vacation to Spain may present exposure implications for colleagues when the employee returned to the office, prior to any work-from-home mandates.

  2. Reporting: Getting a timely view of recent travel activity is imperative.
    • Reconciling data from the various channels, regions, and sources your program utilizes can be a challenge even in normal times, but in a situation as fluid as we are in now, the usual 80/20 rule may not cut it.
    • Collaborate with your TMC(s), suppliers, expense providers, and other data partners to compile complete details of all recent travel activity over affected areas, and then work with your executive team to decide which data are most critical to monitor over time.
    • Share your specific reporting requirements with your data partners so they will be able to assist you faster on an ongoing basis versus the ad-hoc requests they are likely now getting from all of their clients.

  3. Plan Ahead: We don’t know when the new normal will arrive, but we know things will look different. Use this period of downtime to explore how to address those gaps in your program, and be ready to bounce back quickly when business resumes.
    • As companies move from the initial triage stage of COVID-19 response management to whatever comes next, we can assume programs will need to adapt on some level(s).
    • Engage your employees, executive team, and business partners to understand what worked well during this emergency, and where there were gaps -- whether that be in communication, data, tools, or support.
    • Connect with your fellow travel managers and business partners to learn what worked and didn’t work for them and their clients, and share ideas on how to improve program resilience once the dust settles.

Corporate travel management is a team sport, and this is precisely what your TMC, supplier, and data management partners are here for. Lean on us to help you fit all the puzzle pieces together for a complete picture of your company’s past, current, and future travel activity, so you can best support your employees and executives when we all get back to the new normal.

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