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With the end of the traffic light system: It’s ready, set, go for business travel

Written by Darryl McGarvey on Friday, 01 October 2021. Posted in Insight, Analysis

From October 4th UK travel measures will be relaxed and simplified, as the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list.

With the end of the traffic light system: It’s ready, set, go for business travel

From October 4th UK travel measures will be relaxed and simplified, as the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list, pre-departure tests will be scrapped for people arriving in England from countries not on the red list and who are doubly vaccinated and the 2 PCR tests will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests from the end of October. Following this announcement businesses need to consider the new travel measures they will promote as business travel becomes easier, cheaper and more accessible. Moving forward, it will be down to individual organisations to adapt to new travel policies long after the traffic light system and required testing is gone.

The changes to the current travel system have coincided with a shift in public opinion, particularly amongst regular business travellers, with 95% willing to travel again for business. So, the question is no longer should business travel continue… but in what form. The pandemic played a large role in shifting business operations and as society adapts to living with COVID- 19, companies need to become accustomed to the restructuring of business travel.

One of the biggest changes will be business travellers having heightened expectations. While the data suggests travel will continue to play an irreplaceable role in meeting critical business demands, it also shows that health and safety are top-of-mind among employees, with half of business travellers in the UK wanting to see their firms investing in health and safety training. Covid has given travellers time to reflect on the importance of business travel and whether it is entirely necessary, so following the pandemic, business travellers intend to take some degree of action if their employer does not implement new measures as they return to travel. For example, asking to limit or reduce travel in their current position (50%) or looking for a new role inside or outside the company that does not require travel if measures are not implemented (24%).

This research shows that as business travel recovers, traveller confidence will be more important than ever, and duty of care considerations will become a greater focus within businesses travel policies. Travel managers in the UK understand the increased need for health and safety measures and 50% are planning to implement mandatory health screenings for travellers. However, in order to achieve this, what businesses need now is certainty and the ability to plan travel with confidence. Companies will need to be proactive with supporting and safeguarding their employees by putting pre-trip approvals, flexibility and guidance in place. As business travel recovers, it is paramount that businesses manage duty of care responsibilities effectively and instil a greater focus within travel practices.

As well as considering traveller confidence, safety and wellbeing our research found that, many travellers want their employers to adopt a more sustainable approach to business travel in the future, with 66% of employees wanting to travel more sustainably. This means that companies also need to consider more efficient and eco-friendly methods of corporate travel as business travel becomes easier. 

Shifting travel restrictions mean that business travel is set to continually increase, but emerging expectations around personal and community health and safety will mean a new era of decisions, processes, and innovations across the travel industry where businesses need to be proactive about supporting and safeguarding employees. Now the question becomes, how can companies manage duty of care responsibilities effectively and meet travellers’ expectations? The key will be working with employees to increase health and safety, meet expectations and ultimately, collaborate to define what the ‘new normal’ looks like in business travel. 

About the Author

Darryl McGarvey

Darryl McGarvey

Darryl McGarvey is Director, Travel Partnerships at SAP Concur. Darryl joined SAP Concur 4 years ago with responsibility for its TMC Partner Programme and travel industry engagement. He is a travel industry veteran with many years’ experience within the TMC community, passionate about the industry, its people, concerns, and opportunities.

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