This week’s Buyer Discussion webinar, “The Realities of a Future Business Trip,” was sponsored by Deem and brought together several diverse travel buyer panelists to share key strategies on how they are supporting essential and business-critical travel within their organizations: Gehan Colliander, Global Head of Travel for Boston Consulting Group; Sharon Fogarty, Manager of Global Corporate Travel for Sarepta Therapeutics; and Shelly Lewchuk, Manager of Corporate Travel for Canadian Natural Resources Limited.
Session moderator Chris Crowley, Managing Partner of Nina and Pinta, opened the webinar by citing new industry data:
- 48% of travel managers say senior leaders at their company value the managed travel program more than they did before the pandemic (2020 GBTA Coronavirus Poll, September 8-18)
- IATA passenger surveys indicate a “first mover anxiety,” with just 50% of respondents indicating a willingness to fly in 2020.
- IATAEconomics forecasts slower growth for air travel for the remainder of the year.
Other insights provided by the panelists included:
- Pandemic fatigue is setting in with corporate travelers. According to Lewchuk, employees at Canadian Natural Resources Limited are more comfortable traveling by car and staying in hotels than they are with air travel, and are having to manage restrictions by region, which can be confusing. “To bring back travel safely, public health rules like distancing and masking must be applied to the best of our ability,” said Lewchuk.
- Communication is key in getting employees back to travel. Fogarty shared how Sarepta Therapeutics has been working closely with suppliers to provide innovative communications that will help employees feel more confident about traveling. “One of the airlines did a video airport tour for our travel managers and our top hotel in Cambridge created a photo tour showing their health and safety precautions that we put on our company intranet for employees to view,” said Fogarty. At Boston Consulting Group, Colliander talked about their global travel portal, a “one stop shop” for everything travel related. “We created specific pages to look at safety steps being taken by different suppliers, links to government travel information, data regarding office openings and other internal KPIs,” said Colliander.
- The pandemic has elevated the role of corporate travel departments. Travel has become more visible to the C suite. According to Colliander, her team has a seat at the leadership table to provide data and recovery scenarios and discuss the elements of risk for the employee and supplier. “We’ve created specific dashboards to look at current travel trends on a weekly basis over a similar period the previous year and to assess the safety and security of travel,” said Colliander. For Lewchuk, her department has been busier than ever during the pandemic, working on continuous improvement programs, risk management, training, and updating software. “We’re positioning ourselves to create a more efficient experience for the traveler, thereby providing more value to the organization,” said Lewchuk.
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