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 spreads to nearly every populated region of the world, dozens of travel bans have gone into effect as countries have closed their borders to non-citizens. Many countries and states are requesting citizens to shelter in place. In once-bustling cities around the world, people are not even allowed to go out for non-essential reasons.
In this series of articles, we’re covering everything that travel managers, business travelers, and executives need to know during this challenging time.
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 have changed drastically. You’re dealing with more cancellations and refund requests than new trip bookings.
Broadly, these are the tasks you need to take care of during the Coronavirus outbreak.
- Review all upcoming trips and conduct a risk assessment (see more on this below)
- 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 on allowable trips during this time
- Consider how you can help team members satisfy the purpose of their trips remotely
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 and national guidelines
- How the traveling team member feels
- Whether or not the trip is critical
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 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?
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.
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 will ultimately be canceled. However, if you have a critical trip to any destination in the world (whether there are recorded cases or not), you should follow these guidelines:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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. Currently, our best judgment dictates that around September is the soonest that you might want to consider traveling internationally.
However, this completely depends on the public health services guidelines of your country and the country you will be traveling to.
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?
We can’t predict what travel will be like after the Coronavirus. But we do know that it will be very different. Vacationers and businesses will be far less likely to book travel that isn’t flexible, meaning it can’t 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.
- Hotel booking free cancellations – Many hotel booking sites and direct vendors offer free cancellation 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.
The more the world pulls together right now in lockdown, the sooner the virus will fade. Businesses have the responsibility to keep their employees and anyone who they come into contact with safe.