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 COVID-19 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 post COVID-19?
If you’re in charge of managing business travel at your company, your tasks and responsibilities will have changed drastically in the beginning of 2020. 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 post-COVID times.
- Flexibility: mass cancellations and disruptions to pretty much every industry highlighted the importance of flexibility, not just in business but everywhere. Ensuring your processes and arrangements are as flexible as possible is key for future-proofing against unforeseen emergencies.
- Duty of care: employers have a responsibility to take the necessary precautions to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing and safety of their employees. A global health crisis made this very difficult in a number of ways, and ensuring you’re always prioritizing employee wellbeing is paramount. TravelPerk offers duty of care solutions for businesses so organizations can trust their employees are safe and informed—no matter what.
- Saving money: following the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have encountered financial difficulties brought on by decreased consumer spending and local lockdown restrictions. Adhering to your travel budget is more important than ever.
- Reviewing travel policies: it’s a really great time to sit down and go over your corporate travel policy, using new insights to update and perfect it. Hindsight is 20/20, and the past two years have provided a wide array of learnings that come in handy when constructing a corporate travel policy.
Talk to your team about their thoughts on post-COVID travel and take their worries into consideration. A travel manager has a responsibility to ensure employees understand how their corporate travel policy works, and know what to do in case of emergency.
How do I conduct risk management for business travel?
It’s important to take an analytic approach to planning business travel post 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.
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 covid-19 measures have been adopted in events and conferences?
Slowly but surely more and more conferences are returning to in-person meetings and panels. After months of hosting events via video conferencing software, it’s refreshing to see more and more in-person opportunities to meet with and learn from others in your industry.
It’s a little different though, as you’d expect. Every conference has its own rules, but here’s the general gist of safety protocols that have been put in place following the pandemic:
- Mask requirements: mask regulations vary from country to country, however, conferences mostly continue to make them mandatory. They’ll definitely have some on-hand, but it’s a good idea to bring your own.
- Increased cleaning protocols: everything may take a little longer due to the increased hygiene standard required to limit the spread of COVID-19. During the pandemic, this was essential for stopping the spread, and now we’ve got it better under control it’s key to keep it that way. This does mean transition time between events may be slower, as more time and effort goes into ensuring all surfaces are thoroughly sanitized from one use to another.
- Limited services: the conference you’re attending may be offering limited services, however, this really depends on the protocols in place. In order to adhere to capacity limitations, things such as meals and other social aspects may not be up and running. Some events and panels may also be limiting attendees and require you to book your seat ahead of time—check your conference website for details.
- Vaccination/testing requirement: many conferences, along with a lot of other large group gatherings, are requiring attendees to be fully vaccinated or a negative test. If this is the case, you’ll be required to show proof of vaccination or testing upon arrival.
- Hand-sanitizing stations: you’ll likely see hand sanitizing stations dotted around the venue, and you’re encouraged to use them. It’s an easy way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep everybody safe.
- One-way systems: many venues, big and small, now have one-way systems to limit contact between people in the same place.
Is it safe to book business travel again?
Review the above list of government websites to find official advice. Business travel is already bouncing back across the globe, 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. When booking with TravelPerk, employees and travel managers can use our TravelSafe feature to see where it’s safe to travel.
What is a flexible ticket?
Leisure travel and business travel bookings need to be flexible, meaning that they can be canceled or rescheduled in the case of unexpected emergencies without great financial loss.
Here are some different options for acquiring flexible business travel:
- 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.
- 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.
Keeping employees safe isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. The past two years have highlighted the importance of looking out for one another, and it’s essential to implement adequate processes and procedures to ensure we’re all better prepared in the unfortunate case that this happens again.
For more information on how to keep your employees feeling safe and secure, get in touch with the TravelPerk team. We’ve got all the tools to ensure your next corporate travel trip is a breeze.