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How to get back to business travel safely and affordably

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If you’re ready to get back to business travel, you probably have some concerns. How can you keep travelers safe? How can you control costs? Business travel is important for building relationships and providing better service than your competitors. 

Regardless of why your company travels, you’re probably experiencing increased trip bookings and requests. But you might not be ready to throw the same budget at travel as before the pandemic, plus there are more safety issues than ever. Here’s how to get back to traveling—better than before. 

COVID travel program

The rebound of business travel

Although business travel has not yet hit pre-pandemic levels, it is coming back. In varying degrees, business travel is rebounding around the world, causing businesses to reevaluate their processes and policies.

An April 2021 survey of professionals found that only 21% expect to wait until 2022 to return face-to-face meetings and events. The same survey found that business travel is expected to fully rebound in early 2023, with steady gains coming each month. Hilton Hotels Corp’s president of the Americas Danny Hughes says that in August of 2020, business travel accounted for 5% of hotel bookings, but in August of 2021, that amount had already risen to 20%

How to travel safely

It’s the company’s responsibility to keep business travelers safe by tracking their whereabouts and providing them with quality support before and during travel. 

Rely on a trusted and centralized source of information

News-watching isn’t a good strategy for avoiding travel risks because it’s challenging to check reports for every location that employees might be in, and news sources don’t include severity levels or suggested actions. 

Instead of a sporadic, manual process for risk identification, rely on a single source of vetted information that’s designed for business travel risk mitigation. TravelPerk’s TravelSafe API provides constant information for administrators and travelers, and reduces the manual effort required to identify issues and make decisions. During booking, you can see restrictions and alerts that will affect your trip. Plus, we send real-time notifications before and during the trip. 

Implement a duty of care solution

Duty of care is a corporate policy and legal requirement outlining companies’ plans for ensuring the physical and emotional wellbeing of their employees. Reduce the operational strain of providing duty of care by outsourcing it to experts. 

TravelPerk’s full-scale duty of care solution offers:

  • Travel alerts with updatings on COVID-19 transmission levels, changing travel restrictions, local guidelines, and more.
  • Traveler profiles with accurate contact and, if needed, health information.
  • Emergency response management including evacuation and auxiliary services. 

Track travelers’ itineraries in one place

At any time, administrators need to know where travelers are, and who might be affected by a natural disaster, dangerous protest, or other event. Whether or not your company is signed up for our complete duty of care solution, you can still track travelers with the traveler map inside of TravelPerk. Smaller companies might choose to manage duty of care themselves by utilizing this feature to locate travelers and take action. 

Make sure travelers have 24/7 access to customer care

Most likely, you don’t have administrative employees available around the clock to solve traveler issues. Without constant access, travelers could get stuck abroad, uncertain of the best way to reschedule or reroute their trip. 

Book with a travel management platform that offers high-quality customer support 24/7, so travelers can easily get the help they need, whenever they need it. This not only increases safety, but it reduces the strain on your administrative team. 

Tips for controlling costs

How do you keep your travel costs low as you get back to business travel in 2021 and 2022? Try these expert strategies. 

Get reimbursed for canceled trips

Even before COVID-19, business trips are frequently canceled. A client’s needs might change or a candidate might take a job elsewhere. And now with travel restrictions and outbreaks, cancellations could be even more common than they were before. 

If your company experiences changes and cancellations often, consider signing up for FlexiPerk, which gets you 80% of the cost back for any trip. The fee is 10% of the cost of every trip, charged at the time of booking. 

Compare trip costs in one platform

Offer one platform for employees to book trips in, so they can hunt for different options and choose something affordable. TravelPerk integrates with every popular consumer booking platform, plus directly pulls in special rates for businesses. 

Negotiate hotel rates

You can negotiate rates to save a lot on hotel travel. Use the analytics in your travel booking software to discover frequently visited cities. Choose travelers’ favorite hotel in that city, and negotiate a lower rate. At TravelPerk, we negotiate rates for you as one of our premium services.

Reclaim as much VAT as possible

Get as much VAT back as you can. There are often errors when it comes to paying VAT, including doubling up, overages, and policy changes. You can use TravelPerk’s VAT recovery features to save invoices and spot discrepancies. Then, it’s much easier for you to file claims with your local tax authority. 

Automatically enforce travel policies

Travel policies shouldn’t be documents or word-of-mouth recommendations. To effectively control costs, they should be built inside of your travel booking platform so that they actually work at the time of booking. Use a travel management platform that allows you to customize policies for different purposes:

  • Office and location-based policies
  • Different policies for individuals, groups, and teams
  • Premium allowances for executives
  • Dynamic budgets to provide accurate cost limits for various cities and routes
  • Policies that require approval from the right manager, or that can be booked without approval

After you choose the right travel booking management software, work with your account manager or the customer success team to design policies that truly fit your company. 

Improve T&E reporting for real-time data

Is your travel under budget for this month? What about for the quarter? Which teams are approaching their limits? 

Without real-time travel analytics, you can’t easily answer these sorts of questions. To get instant visibility into travel spend, you need to use a travel management platform that speeds up expense reporting. 

TravelPerk integrates with many different expensing tools for automated expense reporting. Plus, because TravelPerk consolidates invoices into monthly payments, there’s no need for old-school reimbursement processes. And with trip tags and policy-adherence tracking, you can dive into more detailed spend reporting. 

How to travel more sustainably

90% of Gen Z want businesses to actively address climate change. You’ve probably noticed that one of the very few benefits of the COVID-19 pandemic has been increased awareness of climate change. Your company probably has initiatives and goals in place to reach carbon neutrality. One of these must be around travel, which accounts for 15-20% of global carbon emissions. 

Use your HR travel policy to encourage more train usage when possible, since trains emit less carbon than planes for short trips. And consider enrolling in a carbon offsetting program that directly offsets the exact CO2 emissions of your business trips by investing in vetted non-profits. 

Travel smarter than before with TravelPerk

Business travel will continue to grow steadily throughout 2021 and 2022. Take a look at your systems and processes for managing business travel, and consider if your company is truly equipped to manage traveler safety, cost controlling and visibility, and sustainability. 
TravelPerk is a travel management solution designed to help you keep travelers happy and safe, while saving money and administrative time. Try it free!

COVID travel program