Let Business Travel Drive the Economic Train

For over a year the world has been grounded. But the world is an ever-changing place, and your business needs to be able to jump back on once the business-travel carousel starts to rev up once again.

The world is, literally, getting a shot in the arm, and how your company prepares for business travel in 2021 and beyond may very well dictate whether or not your company comes out of this pandemic unscathed or bloodied. Corporate travel is the bedrock of deal-making, as well as the key to resuscitating many businesses as we start to emerge from this COVID malaise.

Now that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer the COVID Express, there is every reason to be optimistic that we are very close to replacing constant ZOOM meetings with actual boots-on-the-ground strategy when it comes to deal-making. Hotels, event venues and airlines will need to be Gumby-like in their ability to be flexible when it comes to jump-starting business travel. For instance, changing a flight used to mean facing penalties of up to $400, but the pandemic spurred Alaska, American, United, and Delta to waive change fees permanently on domestic flights in the United States. International flights, which carry the additional risk of possible border closures, will most likely fall in line sooner rather than later.

But for many companies, even those that have used a Travel Management Company (TMC) in the past, a post-pandemic world still has pitfalls that need to be avoided. A TMC is uniquely qualified to safely navigate through any potential dangers that may have surfaced while the world was in a travel coma.

Fortunately, while a good portion of the world was either quarantined or sheltered in place, at EQ Travel we were taking advantage of the downtime to reevaluate how the travel business was being reshaped and remolded. And by doing so, our focus wasn’t on creating a “new normal,” but in fact making the “old normal” more streamlined and efficient by achieving the following:

  • Using the time to bring longer term projects forward in order to create efficiencies for travelers when the starting gun is fired
  • Helping clinical trials continue to run through the pandemic by changing the accommodation types, ex­tending trips to cover more than one site visits, not using car service but rental cars to minimize contacts, and booking apartments instead of hotels. This offers the ability to keep contact low and allow the partici­pants to remain shielded as much as possible
  • Finding the slim travel corridors that have allowed companies to meet in a central location and be fully compliant with various governmental restrictions on travel, testing and quarantine
  • Using hotels within airline terminals when passengers need to layover, to avoid having them enter a country that could be on a high alert level
  • Creating reporting and billing efficiencies by further automating data capture
  • Beefing up pre-trip approval needs to ensure all travel going forward is fully approved, necessary and compliant with COVID protocols
  • Utilizing rapid reaction time to be able to report to clients immediately if their destination hits a “hot spot” list
  • Battling with airlines to get clients’ money back. Airlines have been traditionally only offering travel credits to booked direct passengers. We’ve navigated this and ensured our clients get their money back.
  • Keeping registers of unused tickets and continually updating the clients as terms change. Airline systems cannot cope with all of these unused tickets and the original bookings often drop out of the system. We manually track these, thus making sure the airlines honor them
  • Advising on travel policy changes. Savings will need to be made and we can ensure maximum bang for your buck rather than cutting back on travel.

In 1888, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stat­ed, “That what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” This sentence accurately portrays the resilience and affirma­tion for overcoming adversity that the world has put on display through dark times. Now it’s our turn to go on the offensive and kick-start our worldwide economy by once again utilizing the tools offered by Travel Management Companies to make business travel an important, and necessary, component in your 2021 budget plans.

Franc Jeffrey CEO of EQ Travel

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