Office Hours: Ask The Experts

Posted by
Chad Costa on June 10, 2020
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On May 14, 2020, Traxo held a Travel Managers Office Hours event, Ask The Experts. Moderated by Chad Costa, the webinar featured three strategic, innovative thought leaders in corporate travel: Shani DeSantis from PwC, Susan Lichtenstein from DigiTravel, and Louise Miller of Areka Consulting.

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Shani DeSantis
Advisory - Travel Practice
PwC

Susan

 

Susan Lichtenstein
Managing Partner
DigiTravel

Louise

 

Louise Miller
Managing Partner
Areka Consulting

The panelists shared how to approach and develop new strategies to navigate the post-COVID road. They detailed what to expect, outlined important insights on rebuilding corporate travel programs for the new “normal,” and discussed the short, mid and long term outlooks of recovery and restarting with employees in mind.

Traxo is organizing similar events with other key players in corporate travel. Join our next Travel Managers Office Hours - Stages of Recovery for Corporate Travel on June 10th. If you’d like to be notified when the next webinar will take place or are interested in learning more about Traxo’s offering for corporate travel managers, contact us.

In the meantime, a recording of this event is available, and we encourage all travel managers to watch it.

Webinar Q&A

During the webinar, the panelists took questions from attendees. There wasn't time to respond to all of the audience questions so the panelists have generously provided responses below.

Q: Do you see advance purchase policies going away in the short and/or long term?
A: Guidance for advance purchase is more important than ever for inventory if not fares.

Q: How are companies considering data privacy in light of the pandemic, when traveler tracking is becoming so important? In the past, employees may not want to share some details of their business trips, but is that still reasonable?
A: Companies are unlikely to force travelers to share portions of their plans. Common sense will likely prevail. Employees will be responsible and use preferred channels or self report key trip elements.

Q: What if a traveler is a high risk but their medical condition is unknown to the company and they don't want to travel or disclose the reason to the firm? Perhaps someone in their household is at high risk and they don't want potential exposure. How are HR, Employment Law and Travel Policy addressing this?
A: It's very early to answer this question. It's unlikely rule of law will take care of this in advance, it will likely be precedent in case law. Judgement and policy will be used. An employee who states for any reason that they are uncomfortable to travel will likely be accommodated by the company for a long time to come. When new hires are being considered, establishing policies upfront is less complex than imposing on current employees. Courts will side with employees so employers will be very hesitant to push people to travel.

Q: Will employees request higher pay as compensation for risking themselves and their families if they travel? Perhaps either a per-trip bonus or salary bump?
A: It is unlikely to happen as a direct correlation. Jobs that have high travel requirements may generally pay more, but it will develop over time. It's already that way to a degree.

Q: A panelist stated "proven disinfection tech and procedures". How are travel managers to judge that? We are hearing from each vendor that they have "the best in class.” That's not certified, it's subjective.
A: Actually there are lots of organizations that govern this including industry associations, governments, and independent assessments like the one ACTE is doing now on standards. This is subjective so using independent sources and not sales collateral is best. Areka is doing work for clients performing just this type of work – validating what will work for client programs.

Q: IHG has come out and said they will not have the resources to do traditional RFP in 2020. As a result, they will extend 2020 rates to 2021 and consider those a ceiling to be combined with dynamic rates that float lower. Do you see other chains following this approach, and how might dynamic rates be audited (or is it only after the fact in reporting)?
A: Hotels may refuse to participate in the traditional heavy sourcing process, but that does not mean the only other choice is to roll over the 2020 rates. There is an approach in the middle. In addition, chains don’t own their properties. Buyers can go directly to properties with high volume and use chainwides where there isn’t a lot of volume.

Q: How do we make sure that a particular hotel is following an effective clean and sanitization procedure?
A: It depends on the hotel and who is making the promise. If it’s a chain, then you will need to have faith in their compliance audits. There have been some discussions, though, about a “secret diner” type “secret stayer” approach who conducts independent audits or an app that promotes crowd sourced reports.

 

Thank you to our panelists and attendees and we hope you will join us again at our next Traxo Office Hours webinar.

 

 

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