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How business travel has changed post-pandemic

Catching up with travel managers at BTS

6 min
Posted: 19 May 2022
Catching up at business travel event

At the Business Travel Show (2021), we caught up with travel managers to see how their travel ecosystem has changed compared to pre-Covid times. In this post, we’ll look at:

  • How does the future of business travel look?
  • Is there apprehension about travelling again?
  • How should companies approach risk management?
  • How has the travel manager’s role changed?
  • What steps has your company taken to incorporate sustainable travel?
  • How ‘essential travel’ applies to sustainability too
  • Knowing what to offset
  • How to book a more sustainable stay

How does the future of business travel look?

The Business Travel Show 2021 took place last September, and we thought it was the perfect setting for a catch-up with fellow business travel experts and enthusiasts.

Watch the videos below to discover their thoughts on the possible apprehension around getting back on the road for face-to-face business trips, the steps to more sustainable travel, as well as the future of work and how the role of the travel manager has changed.

Is there apprehension about travelling again?

Business travel is an essential element of business because it brings people together, especially when compared to remote work. It strengthens bonds, it fosters innovation and keeps things running smoothly. But are your employees ready to get back on the road for conferences, trade fairs and other business development opportunities?

‘I’m hearing a lot of language around ‘I want to travel’ and others saying, ‘I need to travel’’, says Caroline Strachan, Managing Partner at Festive Road. ‘I think that distinction is so individual and is really key’.

‘Some people are nervous about travelling again. Some people aren’t—they just want to get out there and travel’, says Alex Lawson, Account Manager at Flight Centre. ‘But there is a bit of apprehension, and I think that’s why it’s important to work with a TMC’.

Festive Road crafted a ‘permissible travel framework’ for companies to use when deciding when to send employees back out for in-person meetings again. We’ve included it in our white paper, along with seven key steps to restarting business travel in your organisation. Click here to download the full guide.

The decisions around business travel are more personal than ever nowadays. As a travel manager, you’re helping senior management to weigh corporate risk, and front-line employees to weigh in on well-being, as well as health and safety (get our comprehensive guide to business traveller well-being here).—

Watch the full video below.

How should companies approach risk management?

One thing is certain about business travel today. And that is that nothing is certain. For some companies, it’s back to business as usual. For others, the risks still outweigh the benefits of hitting the road due to fluctuating business travel spend.

Claire Herbert, Senior Sales Manager for JetBlue, says she often hears both views. ‘I’ve been speaking to people who can’t attend a (trade) show because their business policy is that there are too many people attending, you’re at risk. And then, on the other side, companies are saying, ‘please get out there, we want the business, we want to be back out in the industry’’.

‘I think the best way for companies to approach risk management is through their TMC’, says Alex Lawson, Account Manager at Flight Centre. The right TMC can help you to create a risk management plan as part of your travel policy. And tools like Egencia’s Traveller Tracker can help you implement it.

Caroline Strachan, Managing Partner at Festive Road, mentions that while large multinational corporations may have the resources for an internal risk management function and an enterprise-wide risk management provider, that’s not always the case for smaller companies.

‘If you’re a smaller company with less resources, you actually really do need to lean into your TMC for (risk management) support’.

Watch what they have to say in full below.

Find out more about how Egencia can help your company to manage risk and navigate travel restrictions when it comes to business travel.

How has the travel manager’s role changed?

The role of the travel manager has changed dramatically in the past couple of years. Today, ‘the role of the travel manager is a lot more focused on sustainability and budget and the necessity to travel’, says Alex Lawson, Account Manager at Flight Centre.

As challenging as it’s been for travel managers, there have been some upsides. ‘Travel managers now have a seat at the executive table’, says Caroline Strachan, Managing Partner at Festive Road. ‘They’ve been a really important voice through this crisis’.

If you’re a travel manager, now is the perfect time to level up your business acumen. Download our complete guide to the evolving role of the travel manager to get insights from 130 international travel managers, business leaders and executive stakeholders on what’s changed and what’s essential for the future.

What steps has your company taken to incorporate sustainable travel?

One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been a renewed focus on sustainability throughout the travel industry as businesses reboot. Hear what three players on both sides of the supply chain are doing to make business travel greener.

‘Essential travel’ applies to sustainability too

Tan Mohammed, a director at Portway Systems, says, ‘We’ve made sure our staff only travel when they need to travel’. His comment spotlights one of the main takeaways from 2021 in terms of business travel programmes—defining what exactly makes up ‘essential travel’ as travel budgets change.

If you’re a travel manager who has gone through the exercise of defining essential travel, then you know first-hand that the answer to this question will be different for every company. Nowadays, it’s also likely to change frequently. Like Mohammed says, ‘We’re constantly updating our policies and our procedures to make sure that our travel is sustainable’. Just make sure that your business travel solution can keep up.

Know what to offset

International Insurtech company, bolttech, has a working group dedicated to its ESG (environmental, social, governance) initiatives throughout the company. ‘For travel specifically, we do carbon offsetting’, says Aastha Yadav, Product Strategy. ‘100 percent of our ride-hailing transactions in Europe are carbon offset. So they’re all green, completely’.

But to know what to offset, you need to know what you’re using. The Carbon Emissions Dashboard in the Egencia Analytics Studio gives travel managers the data that they need. And we’re integrating carbon impact directly into the booking path—along with contextual, ‘real-life equivalents’—to make it even easier for travellers to see the impact of their transport choices.

Book a more sustainable stay

However, sustainable options don’t stop once a traveller has reached their destination. Lodging companies are also looking for ways to make their properties—and the entire guest experience—greener.

Cassandra Cogill, a Client Services Manager at Synergy Global Housing, talks about how the company is working towards offering more sustainable options for their corporate apartment rentals. ‘We’re trying to get rid of the single-use plastics within the apartment and looking at more sustainable options, reusable products or things that are fully recyclable within the building’.

Watch the full conversation below.

If you have lodging brands that you’ve chosen for their sustainability initiatives, you can group them together in the Egencia booking tool as sustainable picks for new travel. So your travellers will have the most eco-friendly options at their fingertips when they’re choosing where to stay.

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