Managing business travel during Coronavirus
This resource center is here to help answer your questions about the state of business travel during the spread of the Coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.
A note from our CEO
“I think the responsibility of all companies should be to do whatever they can to flatten the curve. People who travel or people who don’t change their routine right now are acting in irresponsible ways, not for themselves but for their elderly family members or neighbors. Safety first, only travel if completely necessary”TravelPerk founder and CEO, Avi Meir
As the Coronavirus spread to nearly every populated region of the world in 2020, dozens of travel bans went into effect, and countries closed their borders to non-citizens. In once-bustling cities around the world, people were not even allowed to go out for non-essential reasons. The travel industry virtually ground to a halt.
Today, we are navigating a COVID and post-COVID world. Businesses have a different duty of care than they did before towards their traveling employees. In this series of articles, we’re covering everything that travel managers, experienced business travelers, and executives need to know about navigating corporate travel in a post-COVID world.
How do I manage business travel during COVID-19?
If you’re in charge of managing business travel at your company, your tasks and responsibilities will have changed drastically since last year. You’ll have been dealing with cancellations and refund requests more so than ever before. Travel plans and the way they are booked and managed are evolving to suit our new reality.
Broadly, these are the tasks you need to take care of in Coronavirus times.
- Review any upcoming company travel and conduct a risk assessment (see more on this below). Understand the difference between essential and non-essential travel, and where to apply this criteria.
- Cancel all upcoming trips that don’t pass the risk assessment
- Work with your travel management company or directly with vendors to get refunds or credits
- Keep track of vendor credits for future use, including expiration dates and transfer restrictions
- Create new guidelines for business travellers on allowable trips during this time
- Consider how you can help corporate travelers satisfy the purpose of their trips and business meetings remotely
- Monitor pandemic levels at home and at your frequent business travel destinations. Respect all healthcare and safety guidelines as well as travel restrictions.
Depending on whether you’re a full-time travel manager, an office manager, or a team or department manager, you might not be handling all of these yourself. However, these are things that need to be addressed within your company.
Should I cancel all business trips?
Not every region in the world is equally affected. However, no one knows what city or country could be the hardest hit next, and the situation is changing by the hour.
You should use the following criteria to help you decide whether or not to cancel trips:
- International travel guidelines
- National health and safety restrictions
- How the traveling team member feels
- Whether or not the trip is essential
Get more info on canceling business trips due to the Coronavirus and tips for getting refunds and vendor credits.
How do I conduct risk management for business travel?
It’s important to take an analytic approach to planning business travel during COVID-19. But of course, an employee’s own opinion of the risk does come first.
If travel is permitted by governing bodies, then perform a quick risk analysis including factors like the destination, the health of the employee, the length of the trip, the likelihood of community spread during the length of the trip, and the population density of the trip destination.
In general, risk assessments weigh likelihood and impact. How likely is something to occur? What is the impact if it does occur? It’s very important to include this in your corporate travel policy as your company resumes traveling in the new normal.
See our article on Coronavirus trip cancellations for more information.
See our article on Coronavirus trip cancellations for more information.
Get nation-by-nation travel advice
We’ve pulled together the top source of information, guidelines, and restrictions from individual countries. Find links to government resources below for the safest business travel tips.
North America travel advice
Europe travel advice
Asia travel advice
Other country’s travel advice
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of every country in the world. For travel advice and restrictions, check your country or destination country’s foreign office.
If I need to travel for business, how can I protect myself?
Due to the extremity of this global pandemic and the guidelines of many countries, most business trips were canceled in 2020. However, global vaccination rollout means that business travel is starting to recover as nations begin to open up again. That being said, it’s important to follow these guidelines to ensure safe travel during this time:
- Wash your hands frequently, after going out, and before eating. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or more.
- Do not go out if you have flu-like symptoms.
- Wear a face mask in heavily affected areas to protect others around you, and show solidarity with the local community. Follow all local laws concerning COVID-19 health and safety.
- Practice social distancing when not engaged in critical business activities.
- During critical business activities, keep a six-foot (2 metres) distance away from others.
- Take good care of your health by prioritizing your sleep and a healthy diet.
- Wear a face mask or facial covering at all times when traveling, even on long flights. Bring a spare mask with you in your carry-on. This is a requirement for air travel on many airlines around the world.
- Do your best to pay by debit or credit card instead of handling cash. That way, you minimize interaction with physical currency that would have come into contact with many people.
What events and conferences have been canceled?
If your business trip is for a conference, then it definitely counts as non-essential, and you’re advised not to go, even if the event has not been canceled.
Most professional events in Europe, North America, and Latin America have already been canceled due to the Coronavirus. Conferences that took too long to cancel have come under fire and were ultimately pressured to cancel. So even if your upcoming event hasn’t yet been canceled, if it is in the spring or early summer, there is a good chance that it could be. Some events are taking place again throughout 2021, but it’s important to still respect travel restrictions and guidelines no matter where you go. You can always book last minute trips if travel to such events is considered safe again by your local health authorities.
Check out our list of major conferences that have been canceled in recent months.
When should I start booking business travel again?
Review the above list of government websites to find official advice. Business travel is already bouncing back in many countries, and we are seeing green shoots of recovery worldwide. However, our best travel advice is to listen to and respect government guidelines when booking a trip.
If you have to reschedule business trips with vendors that will not give you a full refund or a credit, then you may want to push the trip as far out as the vendor will allow.
What is a flexible ticket?
Business travel will be back after the Coronavirus. It’ll just be a little different. different. Leisure travel and business travel bookings will need to be flexible, meaning that they can be canceled or rescheduled.
Here are some different options for acquiring flexible business travel:
- Airline vendors flexible tickets – Most airlines allow you to add-on trip insurance during the purchase process. There are different policies on how cancellations and rescheduling are covered. You should consider this for any flight your travelers take, whether it’s a direct flight or one with a layover. Flexible fares can be purchased both for economy and business class.
- Hotel booking free cancellations – Many booking sites and direct vendors offer free cancellations for hotel rooms up to 14 days or even 2 days before the trip.
- Business travel insurance – There are companies that offer special travel insurance to businesses, who experience changes and cancellations much more frequently than consumers who travel for pleasure.
- TravelPerk’s FlexiPerk – Last year, we launched FlexiPerk to solve the problem of frequent cancellations and changes in business travel. FlexiPerk customers pay a 10% fee on all trips to gain 80% or higher refunds and free changes to all trips, including flights, hotels, cars, and trains. This is even something that you can incorporate into your travel program going forward.
The more the world pulls together right now, the sooner the virus will fade. Businesses have the responsibility to keep their employees and anyone who they come into contact with safe.