Although travel levels still vary across the world, it is a fair statement to say that the world feels fully open for travel once again. We are seeing the highest levels of business travel since the pandemic began. Global transactions have crossed 50% of pre-pandemic levels – a sharp increase from the beginning of the year when transactions were at 20-30% of 2019 levels. That said, some restrictions remain and those traveling - particularly on a business trip - will find the travel experience altered from pre-pandemic. With reduced air capacity, shortages in staffing across the hospitality industry and pressure on the airport ecosystem, travelers are contending with price increases for both hotel and airfares and exposed to the reality of delays and longer wait times.
To ensure a productive and enjoyable travel experience, here are some factors to consider when planning your next business trip.
1. Consider building in one day of buffer - Ensure you have the uninterrupted time you need at your destination to make your trip a success. Business trips are, on average, slightly longer than pre-pandemic due to a number of factors, including reduced flight schedules and covid travel restrictions. Although many covid restrictions have lifted, there are some countries - particularly in Asia - where testing is still required on arrival.
2. Check the latest restrictions and entry requirements for your destination when booking and again the day before departure. Restrictions change frequently. One easy way to do this is to check the travel restrictions in the “Are you ready to travel?” section of the MyCWT website. One thing I have found during business trips in recent months is that the Covid situation and levels of comfort within person meetings still varies. For example, masks are still largely worn during business meetings in Japan, however in the Northern Hemisphere masks have largely been put aside in office environments.
3. Don’t assume that Covid protocol is the same everywhere. Check rules and protocol with those you will be visiting to avoid any awkwardness on arrival.
4. Book through your company’s preferred channels. Ensure your safety whilst on the road. With the pandemic no longer dominating the news in the way it once did, it’s harder to anticipate spikes in infections that may impact travel. Booking in your company’s channels keeps you safe and supported at all times.
5. Download your travel apps before leaving home. Ensure you get the most up-to-date information related to your flights, and access to support if scheduling changes. One additional benefit is that many hotels are now allowing you to check in or check out of your hotel room by text or by app, without having to join the queue at the hotel reception, saving you time.
6. Make sure your traveler profile information is up to date with your travel management provider and within your travel tools. Ensure the front desk can contact you should mobile check-in/out options apply, and to save time during the booking process.
7. Be a conscientious traveler. Minimize your carbon footprint for the duration of your trip. In your booking tools look for real-time carbon footprint indicators to help you make a more sustainable choice of airline or hotel and don’t be lured by the buffet breakfast, but chose the a la carte option instead, knowing buffets are one of the largest sources of food waste. To find out more about how to travel conscientiously and support more sustainable business travel, listen to my latest podcast episode, ‘A green standard in hospitality.’
8. Do not travel if you are feeling unwell. On the day of departure take a home covid test. And take an extra with you on your trip just in case you are not feeling well whilst on the road. Many airlines and countries no longer require the use of masks. That said, airports are busy places. Following distancing advice and taking the precautions you feel are appropriate for you will be key to staying healthy on your trip.
9. Depart with the knowledge that the travel ecosystem is not quite back to its full vigor. With scheduling adjustments, longer wait times and delays a reality as staffing levels and capacity are added back into the system, following these tips can help mitigate some of the friction and ensure your business trip is not only successful, but also an enjoyable experience.