You might have noticed that things are a lot different out there than they were just a few short months ago. That fact seems most evident when you look at the travel industry.
When it comes to business travel, the concepts of safety and risk management have historically been linked to those visiting a ‘dangerous’ location or being involved in a large-scale, emergency event such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster. While plans for these situations are still important, this pandemic has leveled the field and reiterated the fact that anything can happen anywhere.
“COVID-19 has elevated the need for us to take care of ourselves, and to take care of each other," said Kevin O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer. "For Travel and Transport, it’s changing the way that we, as a travel management company, interact with our customers and their travelers – going beyond the support and assistance we have always provided and evolving into a new role: journey manager.”
You may have seen that we introduced new products and services focused on helping travelers and travel buyers navigate ever-changing rules and regulations brought on by COVID-19. The tools help support and manage the traveler journey as they plan, prepare, and embark on business travel.
“So now we come to you, with open arms (sanitized and socially distanced, of course)”, to offer you some thoughts on how we see this concept of journey management actually working, and how we know our solutions will help – complete with some random Journey lyrics and song titles, because they just seem to fit.
Can I Travel?
“When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay”, you may want to be there, but local policies might not allow it. As COVID-19 threat levels continue to fluctuate greatly, city, state, and country travel restrictions have become something of a moving target. Travel and Transport helps travelers navigate these ever-changing rules through our new Journey Prep tool, which allows travelers to search for the most up-to-date guidance on state and country-specific restrictions and quarantine rules.
May I Travel?
Although travel policies and approval processes have always been in place to some degree, looking back, business travel before COVID-19, may have seemed to be “any way you want it”. That’s changed somewhat, and clear policies and information should be in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of each and every employee. Policies should be implemented that help give travelers a solid foundation from which to decide how they should best conduct business travel – that give them some comfort and reassurance as they start to traverse the world again.
As Scott Johnston, Travel and Transport’s Senior Director, Product Management recently described in his post, We approve this message: taking another look at pre-trip approval, “Your travelers realize that it’s not business as normal and are open to new policies or guidelines. Clearly communicate why those policies are being implemented and then also understand that as the world continues to change, your policies should as well. Be flexible and realize that nothing remains the same.”
To get some ideas for how to structure your travel policy in the wake of COVID-19, read Scott’s post above and then download our ebook, The Ultimate Guide to When Travel Returns.
How do I plan for the journey?
Once the question of if it’s possible to travel has been answered, next comes the task of actually getting ready for the journey. There are many “separate ways” in which this will play out:
In most cases the planning phase begins with interaction between a traveler and a travel advisor. This has evolved too. At Travel and Transport, our advisors have been transformed into journey management consultants. “We have trained our advisors to have very different conversations with travelers now, especially as international and multi-destination trips pick up again. They must make sure that multiple trips can go ahead, taking quarantine and other measures into account,” said Joel Bailey, Travel and Transport’s Senior Vice President, Customer Solutions.
A new Journey Brief interactive webpage is sent to travelers 48 hours ahead of a trip, with information including a packing list and general insight into what to expect in airports, planes, hotels, and ground transportation.
The most consistent factor in the current travel experience is inconsistency, so our Journey Brief page offers the best tips available for all travelers. Regardless of the airline or accommodation they are using, there are some basic steps that all travelers can take to keep themselves and those around them safe,” said Bailey.
While on the trip, communication with travelers needs to continue. “It’s good practice to check in on travelers while they are on any trip, but with heightened measures in place, it’s even more important to make sure employees feel safe and comfortable,” says Nancy Miller, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Communications at Travel and Transport. It will be very important to provide critical, relevant information to keep employees and travelers informed on business status, travel program expectations, and changes. “It might be best to over-communicate during this period while there is so much uncertainty and complexity,” Miller added.
Travel and Transport offers tools such as Dash Mobile and Dash Portal, which will help corporations stay in constant touch with their travelers. When a situation changes, like new quarantines or restrictions, our Bolt Alerts service sends instant email and push notification to affected travelers. Journey Prep information can also be found in these apps, making sure that travelers always have a place to go for the latest information, wherever they’re at in their travels.
Travel advisors can do more to support travelers while they’re on the road as well. Through Leap Advisor, our traveler relationship management technology, travel advisors instantly see the traveler and their profile, where they are at the moment, and where they are going. Leap Advisor can even show an advisor instantly if the traveler is experiencing a disruption (e.g. an active flight delay), exactly what is occurring, and whether the airline is providing flexibility to make changes that will get the traveler on their way faster and at less expense.
One of the questions we’ve heard from our clients is “what happens if someone gets sick while on business?” To help provide an extra layer of support to business travelers, we’re now storing 3rd party risk and medical partner information in Leap Advisor, so our travelers can be put straight through to their company’s dedicated support teams by our advisors if they have one, all in just one interaction triggered by using click-to-call in Dash Mobile.
Leap Advisor helps our people make travel personal even now, adding new value to the conversations we have with you and your travelers – real information, the right information, and helpful information shared quickly for a responsive conversation.
“The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning”
We don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow, but we know this: as the situation continues to evolve – whether things get better, or worse – we'll keep working with you to manage your journey as best we can, giving you what you need to ensure your health, safety, and wellbeing while traveling. We hope that you find the solutions that we've introduced and those future enhancements that we will continue to introduce to be truly helpful to you as you get back on the road.
We'll get through this together. “Don't stop believin'”.