Isleworth Travel Management are pleased to launch the first in #thursdayblog. Our weekly blog will feature industry advice & guidance for you and your business.
The COVID-19 outbreak has hit pause on our travel plans for now. Sales teams are grounded and social distancing measures are in place to prevent the spread of the infection and to promote good health. Most businesses have had to make difficult decisions to furlough staff, leaving limited skeleton staff in the office to pick up the bulk of the work.
We are having to adapt to new ways of working, including having team meetings over the web and doing business virtually. All the technology we are using now has been at our fingertips for a good few years. With the ability to communicate with teams all over the world, we were forced to adopt new ways of doing business almost overnight, so will this make a change to the way we work in the future? A recent study by ICAO showed that compared to business, as usual, there will be 1.2 billion fewer travellers by September 2020.
We are a people moving business, whether by land or air we specialise in getting people from A-B and keep them comfortable whilst we do it. We regularly advise our clients on ways of getting the most out of their travel budget by utilising our SME travel products, whether it be fares or hotel rates.
So where will all this preparation leave us when we are allowed to return to pre-COVID-19 life?
Increase In Video Conferencing
This has already happened, businesses all over the world have had to adapt to services like Zoom, GotoMeeting and Microsoft Teams. This impromptu jump has forced companies big or small to learn and buy tech to fulfil their immediate business commitments, will this promote a reduction in your business travel? A recent survey within some multinational businesses will notice some effect on their global travel spends by at least 10%.
Sustainability In Travel
Remember this word? While aviation around the world has been significantly reduced, the atmosphere is clearing itself of excess co2. National Geographic reports that whilst the carbon emissions from travel and industry are down; if governments do not move to cleaner energy, the cleaner air won’t stay around for long. More than ever sustainability will feature in travel policies. The short term reductions in co2 will be promoted in business to business relationships.
There is no hiding from the situations airlines find themselves in. When travel resumes, you may see some big names disappear from the market. Airlines rely on the aircraft they own being in the air, however, the revenue management directors are struggling to put plans in place. Where you have corporate loyalty schemes in place, we would welcome a discussion with us to make the most of these for your business when travel resumes.
With refunds not arriving from some big names, vouchers are being offered in lieu; with some incentives attached. If you have a ticket with a cancelled flight you are entitled to the cash, but if you have an upcoming trip perhaps it is worth asking for a voucher. If you opt for for a voucher, they are currently restricted to the original traveller, but we are currently lobbying for an “Alternative Traveller” policy. This stance would ensure vouchers can be redeemed for other travellers within your business and removes the risk of isolating vouchers to individual travellers.
Probably the biggest game-changer after the pandemic passes. 2 metres and shaking hands? Will we meet at conferences and trade shows and greet each other shaking hands? IATA is working on a proposal to block the middle seats on aircraft to promote a safer distance whilst sitting on the plane. Our travel experiences may change completely, such as lounges being restricted to a smaller amount of passengers and borders subjecting visitors to health checks on arrival.
This is probably one of the most important factors in travel. The price of a barrel of Oil. At the time of writing the price was at US$13.80 a barrel, slowly recovering from a two-decade low. Trump has just aimed at Iranian crude, which has started to stoke a recovery. The world revolves around barrels of Oil. These barrels don’t necessarily take a physical form, there are various markets such as “Oil Futures” which in effect is buying oil which hasn’t even been found yet. Airlines buy barrels of oil on 10-month buying programs, and the investments they have made in advance of your flight is affecting them now.
Businesses in the travel industry are losing money. Airlines are refunding money which they have already invested in their flying programs, Hotels remain shut whilst they await an opening day and the car hire desks remain closed. When travel restarts new hygiene practices may become common practice; Deep cleaning in hotel rooms between stays and intense filtration on aircraft after a flight will all add to the cost of your stay but will give you the confidence to travel.
In conclusion I cannot wait for the restart of travel, I already have my eyes set on a location for our summer holiday. But confidence and safety will take precedent and travel policies will change. The landscape we know now will have changed and perhaps it will become more responsible.
Over the next few weeks I will delve into travel policies in detail and we will prepare for the future together.
About the Author.
Brett Gerrett is General Manager of Isleworth Travel Management. Founding Isleworth Travel Management in 2018, Brett aims to redeliver a personal approach to Business Travel. Brett has won numerous travel industry awards and has recently been recognised as one of TTG’s 30 Under 30 for 2020. Follow him on Twitter @biztravelgeek