As the Covid-19 epidemic eases in Europe but ramps up elsewhere in the world, we at Baxter Hoare are working with many
of our clients to re-design their business travel policy to include the need of living with Coronavirus.
There are three principal elements of a travel policy that need examination and potentially amending:
Travel Policy Guidelines
The constituent parts of a travel policy have grown other the years to cover:
- How travel bookings should be made
- Class of travel
- Spend limits
- How to create a travel profile
- Payment methods
- Approval processes
- Safety and wellbeing
- Risk management
- Carbon footprint
However, in a rapidly changing environment there are fundamental themes which must be incorporated into the policy…
Most importantly ensure your policy only approves travel bookings to be made through your preferred channels to ensure you can track who is where at any given time. By so doing, your organisation can keep track of where your employees have been, where they are now and where they are going to.
Our clients here at Baxter Hoare who consolidate their travel programme through us are benefiting from having complete visibility of all trips so they can create a temporary pre-trip approval process for high-risk Covid-19 destinations.
Any emergency processes including tools and contacts used for travel risk-management need to be detailed clearly in your updated policy guidelines.
Secondly, your policy guidelines should outline a mandatory update of all existing traveller profiles which will ensure all emergency contact details and passenger data is up to date. This reduces the risk of missing key traveller data at the airport and should eliminate any unnecessary interactions with airport staff thus making the check-in and boarding process as contactless as possible.
Next ensure the updated guidelines share some safety and hygiene recommendations with your travellers including guidance on maintaining hygiene standards and social distancing measures whilst travelling on businesses, and what to do should an employee need medical support.
Don’t forget to make sure your employees have enough information about traveller risks, restrictions, travel insurance and assistance provided by their employer whilst travelling, all of which falls under corporate responsibility obligations .
A final adjustment to your policy guidelines should be a review of who can travel and what is deemed as essential or business critical. It could be that authorisers need guidance to reject certain trips during the pandemic.
Traditionally air travel policies guided travellers to book flights in advance to secure upfront savings discounts.
In the Covid-19 era new guidance should be given to book nearer to the time of travel with the cost of air tickets being reduced in the short term as airlines seek to stimulate demand.
Your Air policy should also promote the booking of flexible air tickets so they can change/cancel with little penalty in the event of any variations to the current outlook. The air policy can also be used to restrict air bookings to high-risk Covid-19 areas and to limit the number of travellers per flight
Remind your employees to make sure they utilise any unused air tickets/credits so any previously paid costs can be offset against future flights.
Whilst we live in this new era of increased cleanliness and safety, make sure your policy highlights preferred hotels that are adopting newly introduced hygiene initiatives, social distance measures, and contactless check-in/out processes to ensure the safety of your employees.
It will be important that you can easily recognise hotels that adhere to the minimum guidelines set. Your policy could now promote the use of flexible hotel rates which can be cancelled effortlessly. Adjusting any set hotel rate caps to enable your travellers more flexibility in this era whilst prioritising their safety. This may well be a temporary measure and could be seen as increasing cost. However as travel is likely to be less frequent in the short term it is better to ensure it is done well as your employees well-being and safety is paramount.
At Baxter Hoare we believe each business we work with deserves a travel policy designed around each clients’ requirements.
This blog has covered just a few of the potential ideas and suggestions we have, we would be happy to set up a call to discuss how we can support you further through our consulting arm..