At Egencia, we’ve been hosting a series of webinars with Business Travel News to support organisations during — and after — the COVID-19 crisis. In our second webinar, we looked at what business travel might look like post COVID-19. And how companies should approach stakeholder engagement when it comes to planning and getting buy-in for their corporate travel programme relaunch.
Chief operating officer and SVP of customer success, Mark Hollyhead got together (virtually) with Caroline Strachan, managing partner at Festive Road, for a candid conversation about how corporate travel managers can, and should, use this time to recover and relaunch travel.
Watch the webinar for tips and advice on how to relaunch your travel programme.
Use corporate travel data
The world still feels a little uneasy as we navigate through the murky waters past the peak of COVID-19. However, there are steps travel managers can take now to prepare their corporate travel programmes for the new normal. If you’re a travel manager, you should review two things as a priority:
- Look at the locations of your offices and travellers.
- Determine which destinations are visited most frequently by your company.
It’s impossible to keep up with the evolving regulations of every country across the globe. So, focus on the places your corporate travellers go most. Use your past trip reports to narrow your focus and find out the latest guidance in those places and on those routes. If you haven’t already, communicate with employees about these guidelines. And make sure they know where travel stands within your organisation to prevent unexpected trips popping up.
Work with key stakeholders
Make sure you ask for input from important stakeholders in your business. “Don’t be an island: Create a network of stakeholders that touch travel and health and safety, whether that be HR, facilities, exec leaders, etc.,” Strachan said. It’s crucial to understand the broad scope of requirements from across your company. From mitigating travel risk to managing travel expenses, tailor each conversation to your audience. Then listen and react to feedback in order to put together a strong your plan for relaunch.
- Other functions: Hold cross-functional meetings with departments that cover security and HR to discuss worst-case travel scenarios and assess destination risks. Your colleagues’ feedback will be vital for your relaunch plan and can help you set goals and priorities. Talk to them about finding a balance between virtual and in-person meetings. As well as what counts as essential travel versus permissible travel.
- Travellers: Create an employee survey to find out how many trips your business travellers typically take in a year, if they’re comfortable travelling, and what they might need to ease their anxiety as they get back on the road. You could also host virtual focus groups with your road warriors to discuss the challenges they’ve faced while on a travel pause. This qualitative research will be just as important as your statistics, helping you formulate an updated travel policy and supporting you to meet your duty of care requirements.
- Executives: Take your employee and internal stakeholder research, distill down to the key points, and talk to your executives. Use your data to present your plan for relaunch; this is your time to shine as a strategic function owner.
Work your way up the chain
If you don’t have executive contacts, or if you do and they’re not ready to talk travel, start with your line manager. If you can get buy-in from your manager, they can hopefully help you work your way up the chain. Getting businesses back on track is at the front of every executive’s mind, and with your preparation, travel can help put your company on the road to recovery. Use your research, influence, and the support of your manager to start the conversation with execs. Your careful planning will help to elevate your role to that of a strategic function owner and indispensable advisor. As Mark explained, "although drama and crisis are bad things for us as people, and for the industry — the opportunity for people to assume responsibility for key topics has never been like this in travel before."
Watch the webinar in full to hear expert insights on relaunching travel in your business.