Level 3: Light at the end of the tunnel for business travellers
The Flight Centre Travel Group’s Corporate Brands, which include FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller and Flight Centre Business Travel, believe that business travel won't be the same again post-Covid-19.
This follows the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that business travel will be phased in gradually under level 3 regulations. Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller and Flight Centre Business Travel, said that although there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what the easing of the restrictions on business travel will entail, he said the announcement indicates that there is light at the end of the tunnel for business travellers.
"As companies and business travellers contemplate the return of business travel, there are many factors to consider, as we can expect to see significant operational changes from airports, airlines and hotels," he explained.
"Airports will introduce more stringent health checks and airlines will have air quality controls onboard as hygiene and safety is an essential concern. Discussions surrounding the dreaded middle seat in airplanes will be ongoing, and we’re likely to see a more automated and ‘touchless’ travel experience," he added.
The Travel Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) further outlined that high-risk travellers (those above the age of 60 and those with underlying health issues) are recommended not to travel.
The guidelines compiled by TBCSA indicate that travellers could be asked to complete a health document and that hotels are likely to introduce stringent health measures. These measures could include reduced linen change frequencies, the end of the turndown service, the removal of cushions and throws, and empty minibars.
Desai said the new travel landscape highlights the importance of having a clear and transparent travel policy, even for domestic travel. “With unprecedented times comes the need for flexibility, especially with something as important as travel policy. An interim travel policy created for this specific situation is the best way forward and will highlight responsibilities, duty of care and destination restrictions," he said.
Bonnie Smith, GM FCM Travel Solutions, said heightened hygiene measures stemming from Covid-19 will be a critical part of travel moving forward.
"The uncertainty around the Covid-19 outbreak could lead to anxiety for travellers. Some employees might find themselves questioning whether they need to travel to do their job effectively. If the answer is yes, it’s essential to make sure staff feel comfortable getting back on the road and confident that their safety and wellbeing is prioritised. Comprehensive risk management and duty of care programme are therefore essential," said Smith.
In the post-Covid-19 era, the industry will see a demand for in-depth, personalised and dynamic travel management adapted to a company’s unique requirements.