As travel has begun to rise with the rollout of vaccines, we’ve created this stage-by-stage guide to help companies think through the steps of each phase of restarting their travel programs.
If you’re 3+ months out from traveling
Create traveler risk profiles to identify how the return to travel and meetings may impact different employees and devise strategies to alleviate the concerns of those struggling with the idea.
Create or review your COVID-19 travel policy to guide employees on new processes and protocols, taking into account any new supplier changes and government regulations. Some essential guidelines to cover: what constitutes “permissible” travel, who will be able to travel, the process for pre-trip approval, safety initiatives, and any new guidelines that have been adopted to support traveler wellness, sustainability, and inclusivity goals.
Because of all the changes happening within the industry, you should also connect with your preferred suppliers at this point to understand how ready they are to receive your travelers.
If you’re one month out from traveling
The focus will be on testing all the program elements to facilitate a smooth transition. New tools and systems that have been put in place should be checked to make sure they are operating well to avoid chaos and confusion when the switch is flipped. Make sure the online booking tool is working properly and test out the pre-trip approval tool.
Notify your travel management company (TMC) and other suppliers about your plans to relaunch the program and any program changes they should be aware of. Additionally, notify your employees of the relaunch. HR may send company-wide announcements informing employees about the countdown to the return of travel and in-person meetings, with subsequent emails focusing on critical policy changes, training guides, and the resources available to travelers.
You are ready to travel
As travelers are given the green light to begin taking their first work trips since the pandemic, communication and training are key. Send a company-wide announcement indicating the reinstatement of travel. Detail the resources that are available to travelers and provide training on policy changes, offering guidance on what types of trips they can take and any new protocols on booking processes. Follow up with additional emails and an internal blog summarizing key points. We recommend organizing a dedicated team who can assist travelers with the questions and challenges.
Your TMC can serve as a support system as well, guiding travelers on booking decisions and making them aware of destination-specific travel advisories and requirements. Make sure to supply travelers with the contact information for the TMC’s traveler care team they can use when they need help with bookings or on the road.
Your TMC may have many other resources to help navigate the return to travel. In fact, we’ve built an entire site of Ready to Go resource guides to help travel managers make informed decisions about their programs and keep traveling employees safe as organizations return to travel.
A version of this article previously appeared on American Express Global Business Travel’s blog, The Atlas™.