Why the return of business travel goes beyond vaccines

Managing the new priorities of business travel requires new thinking and new tools

Almost 80 per cent: that’s the percentage of business travellers who said in a recent survey they would feel comfortable travelling during the pandemic, after being vaccinated. Without a vaccine, that number drops to 55 per cent.

Vaccines have understandably been a key focus as the world returns to travel. But the coronavirus pandemic has pushed businesses to take a hard look at their travel programmes overall, and many have discovered they don’t meet the standards required for safe and cost-effective travel in a post-COVID world.

Doing this, and keeping up with evolving travel conditions moving forward, requires the sophisticated tools of a modern, integrated travel and spend management platform. Here’s what it offers.

Increased employee safety

When the pandemic hit, many businesses with employees on the road discovered they didn’t know where to find them, in order to get them home safely. In fact, one survey found that only 27 per cent of travel managers, buyers, and corporate safety and security managers have a documented response process for emergencies that is consistently applied and communicated.

A modern travel management platform removes this obstacle by tracking travelling employees in real time, allowing travel managers and human resources professionals to see at a glance where employees are located.

But in a world where virus hot spots or natural disasters can crop up overnight, organisations need to do more. And they can, thanks to technology that allows travel managers to prevent employees from reaching unsafe areas. Whether it’s a country, city or area within a city, travel managers can restrict booking access for their travelling employees, helping to ensure their safety in a world that is constantly changing.

Optimised cost savings

In the pandemic’s wake, many organisations are looking to operate more cost efficiently. One place to find savings is with unused travel tickets, which historically represent up to 2 per cent of a company’s total air spend, but of course ballooned in 2020. When a ticket goes unused, most airlines offer travel credits, which often expire before a traveller or travel manager can apply them.

A modern travel management platform, however, can identify the value of those credits and automatically apply it to new flight bookings. These savings can be significant, as some organisations hold more than 1,000 unused travel credits, with an average value of $482 a credit.

Businesses can realise savings in less obvious areas as well, such as with their travel policy. Gone are the days of static policies that no one reads. Dynamic, integrated policies allow for cost-saving nuances, like permitting executives to book business class, versus more junior employees who can only book economy.

Travel managers can also define policy based on destination, so that, for example, the daily allowance is dynamically higher in a more expensive city. Employees get the flexibility they need to do their jobs, while companies can better control costs.

Sustainability reporting

In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, organisations are eager to not just reduce their costs but also their carbon impact. The percentage of carbon emissions from global aviation has increased by almost 30 per cent in recent years, and more organisations are looking to step up and lead the way in finding more sustainable solutions. It’s one reason that more than 70 per cent of Global 500 companies report their business travel carbon footprint.

The most forward-thinking travel management platforms are out in front of this issue. They offer organisations the tools to track their travel-related carbon emissions, down to the department or individual level, while enabling them to purchase carbon offsets through the environmental organisation of their choice.

These platforms also give travellers access to their personal carbon data, allowing them to understand the environmental impact of their travel and their employer’s commitment to reducing it.

Whatever new twist the world throws at the world of business, companies must feel confident they have a travel management platform that can keep up. Amid the complexities of the return to business travel, an automated travel and spend management platform offers an entire organisation the assurance that their workforce is travelling in the safest, most sustainable and most cost-efficient way possible.

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