TORONTO — Direct Travel, Inc., one of North America’s largest travel-management companies, recently polled its corporate clients in Canada to gauge anticipated plans for resuming travel. While the Coronavirus pandemic has driven business travel to a halt and has impacted the industry in an unprecedented fashion, the big question on everyone’s minds is centred on what the future of business travel will look like post COVID-19.
“The business-travel industry took a significant hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re now beginning to see positive signs of that much-anticipated return,” says Brian Robertson, president, Canada West, Direct Travel. “Many clients are focused on post-Coronavirus recovery. More than 25 per cent of our travellers plan for their domestic travel to resume in the next two to three months and over 65-per-cent plan to be travelling again within the year. This is a very encouraging sign.”
While many see business travel resuming before year’s end, it’s unclear exactly what that new model will look like. One important aspect is how comfortable people will feel about travelling. A number of benchmarks need to be met before travellers are at ease travelling for work once again. This includes safe-stay measures such as guest-health protocols, employee responsibilities, cleaning guidelines and physical-distancing requirements.
“One clear theme is the importance of post-COVID-19 duty-of-care requirements and an increased focus on mandating travel-policy compliance,” says Ian Race, senior vice-president, Corporate Sales, Direct Travel. “Sixty per cent of our travellers surveyed will require a duty-of-care protocol and 84-per-cent plan to mandate travel-policy compliance. It’s these safety and security concerns that will drive renewed interest in the travel program from corporate executive leadership, human resources and business travellers themselves.”
“The resumption of travel means changing our collective approach to the travel experience. The COVID-19 crisis further emphasized the key reasons corporate clients rely on their travel-management companies and I firmly believe buyers need TMCs now more than ever,” adds Robertson.