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Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Sep 14, 2020
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That’s the key to get corporate travellers back on the road

Right measures, right training

COVID-19 has changed the world and it has certainly hammered corporate travel, However, SAP Concur Canada’s director of sales, Victoria DeBoon tells Canadian Travel Press that “business travel will return, but not in the same way it was prior to the global pandemic. Business travel is being reshaped.”

I think the question that everyone in the travel industry is asking these days is when will companies began to travel again for business purposes? Can you offer some insights in this area for our readers?

DeBoon

Business travel plays an important role in the success of today’s enterprise. Canadian business travellers expect their company to experience negative outcomes due to travel restrictions around COVID-19, including a reduced number of deals or contracts signed that require in-person interactions (51%) and declines in new business wins that require in-person meetings (44%).

At this moment in time, companies are rightly prioritizing the health and safety of their employees. What we are seeing is that Canadian business travellers are keen to get back on the road – nearly 3 in 10 (28%) of Canadians are excited to be travelling for work again – but not before companies put the right measures and training in place to keep them safe.

The follow up to that is, obviously, how will those people travel? How will it be different from the way that they travelled before the global pandemic?

Business travel will return, but not in the same way it was prior to the global pandemic. Business travel is being reshaped.

Businesses are looking at taking a hybrid approach to ensure their employees are only travelling when necessary.

Virtual meetings will continue to play a role in business continuity moving forward.

Face-to-face interactions are important and will always hold value, but companies need to ensure they put safety measures in place to keep health and well-being top-of-mind.

For example, we’ll see in-person conferences supplying PPE equipment such as face masks and hand sanitizer, leveraging technology to facilitate sessions and keeping smaller groups in sessions.

We’re going to see business travel be more creative and incorporate more technology to provide a touchless experience for travellers. This can be done with tech, in particular, mobile phones.

Our survey found mobile check-in is the most important mobile app feature (52%) Canadians want when travel resumes, followed by traveller safety information (38%), the ability to book air travel (38%), and the ability to view and manage their trip itinerary (36%).

Did SAP Concur’s research look at the relationship between travellers and their companies. What is the traveller’s expectation of the company in this new world that we’re living in? And what is the expectation of the company for their travellers? Has it changed in the last 6 months?

To understand the new normal of business travel and help companies make travel as safe and accommodating as possible, SAP Concur surveyed business travellers around the globe to determine how employees are feeling and how companies can best prepare to return to the road.

We’re seeing that more than 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (93%) consider some measures as critical for safely returning to the road.

This includes mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (40%), limiting travel to only the most critical trips (38%), real-time health and safety updates (34%), and easier access to personal protective equipment (28%). It’s important that employees’ concerns are top of mind for employers.

More than 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (92%) believe they’d benefit from company training, especially, trainings on how to protect their health and safety during travel (50%) and how to maintain healthy habits while travelling (50%). Companies have a responsibility to their employees, and they need to balance what is required of employees and what employees are actually comfortable with.

What about the frequency of travel? Will people be travelling more or less for business purposes? And what are the factors that would increase or decrease the frequency of business travel going forward?

From our survey, we’re seeing there is a positive sentiment (52%) among Canadian business travellers who are keen to return to travelling. We can expect to see ebbs and flows to business travel as communities and businesses progress through various stages of reopening.

There are a lot of unknowns with COVID-19 and travellers will be more cautious around the length of a trip, where they will travel and the kinds of accommodation they will stay in.

As we start to see business travel increase, we’re going to see more thoughtful approaches and technology will play an enormous role in offering a touchless experience from bookings to luggage drop off.

Right now, from what I’m hearing, business travel is pretty much at a standstill – correct me if I’m wrong on this. So, what I’m wondering is whether you have any advice for companies as to what they need to do to prepare for the time when people will get back on road?

With COVID-19 bringing health and safety to the forefront of everyone’s minds, companies face more pressure than ever to ensure the safety of their employees. Duty of care is one of the most important drivers of travel policy changes.

It’s imperative that businesses implement and enforce policies that ensure traveller safety, health and security.

The best way companies can prepare is by listening to the concerns among their employees and invest in solutions and put new policies in place to ensure their travellers feel safe when they return to the road.

Canadian business travellers are looking to their employers to communicate the most up to date traveller safety information and travel technology to help alleviate their concerns.

A lot of people have been working from home because of COVID-19. Did your research find people reluctant to go back to the office; to go back to working in the way that they did before the pandemic. Any advice for businesses on how to handle this?

This survey examined the feelings business travellers have with returning to the road in order to determine what measures travellers believe are necessary, both from themselves as well as from their employers, to return safely to travel.

The survey found health and safety has become the top priority for 2 in 5 (43%) Canadian business travellers as they are concerned about infecting their families or becoming sick themselves.

A majority of Canadian business travellers (92%) believe they’d benefit from company training to provide guidance on how to protect their health and safety during travel, as well as how to maintain healthy habits.

What about Canada? Are Canadian business travellers’ concerns different from those of global business travellers? Can you talk about those differences? Or about the similarities?

One finding that stood out is that over 9 in 10 (96%) Canadian business travellers are feeling concerned about the return of business travel – this is slightly higher than the global average.

It’s not just the overall concern about returning back to the road that was interesting – results also showed that more than half (52%) of Canadian business travellers are looking to technology to ease travel concerns – 11% higher compared to global findings, underlining the need for companies to adopt a digital approach and implement touchless solutions for their travelling employees.

Health and safety has become the focus of just about everything we do these days … wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance … there are a lot of moving parts to developing these new protocols. How are business travellers dealing with these new responsibilities? How are companies dealing with them?

Health and safety continue to be a top priority for both employers and employees. Canadian business travellers are looking to their employers to implement policies and put safety procedures in place to keep them safe, such as access to PPE equipment, health screenings, and company trainings on how to keep safe during travel.

Employees want leaders to provide up-to-date information and guidelines on best practices while travelling for work.

Companies need to be clear and transparent with communication around how their business travellers can keep safe and healthy while on the road.

Companies should also listen to the concerns and needs of their employees and invest in these solutions, while at the same time, being mindful of the new landscape businesses operate in.

I should have asked this earlier, but maybe you can give Canadian Travel Press’ readers a quick overview of what SAP Concur Canada does?

SAP Concur is the leading provider of integrated travel and spend management solutions, enabling visibility for companies into its’ expenses and providing control over company spend.

The top-rated SAP Concur mobile app guides employees through every trip, charges are effortlessly populated into expense reports, and invoice approvals are automated.

It’s tools also enables companies to quickly locate and communicate with employees—no matter where they are or how they booked their travel—even when travel plans change.

Last question. I’m just wondering if there is something that I haven’t asked that I should have asked you? If there is, what’s the question? And, what’s the answer?

Employees are playing a crucial role in helping business leaders make decisions and address concerns around business travel.

Business leaders need to prioritize the needs and concerns of their travelling employees when implementing new policies and should be effective in communicating the changes once put in place.

 

 

 

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