By Leanne Fowler, Director of Strategic Meetings Management, NYS Meetings & Events (part of Capita Travel & Events)
During The PA Life Summit, Leanne Fowler shared the impact COVID-19 has had on the travel industry with attendees.
The insightful seminar highlighted how meeting and travelling has changed this year, and Leanne shared her top tips moving forward…
Before the pandemic, from leaving the house to attending a meeting, there were questions to consider before travelling, such as:
- Where to hold a meeting
- How to get to the meeting
- The cost of travel
- The cost of the meeting
- The risk assessment
- Health and Safety requirements
- What type of accommodation/experience is required
However, these questions have evolved since Covid and are likely to continue to do so as guidelines change and companies update their policies.
A recent survey by CBI looked at how the workplace currently functions and 47% of businesses indicated that they would be utilising hybrid events from 2021. Additionally, companies said that they would soon be reviewing home working contracts, meaning meeting and travelling will still be different to before.
100% of businesses now hold a pre-travel assessment, which needs to be signed off before a face-to-face meeting takes place. This involves information for every step of the journey, from booking a reservation and the leaving the front door to arriving at the train station to packing a face mask.
These are just some of the many steps that now need to be considered:
- How do I get to the train station?
- Do I need to book a reservation?
- Have I packed my face mask?
- Does my company allow me to use public transport?
- What are the alternative travel options?
- What are the latest guidelines?
- Can the meeting be virtual?
- Will we meet at the office or at a venue?
- Will there be space to socially distance?
Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a significant drop in air and rail travel, with the number of hire cars increasing. People feel safer in cars and with reduced capacity on public transport, it has become the most popular mode of transport. This has had a knock-on effect on the travel industry, especially international travel.
There has been a decrease in air travel as more people are worried about their health and safety. More information is also needed with key changes, such as a negative Covid test and a valid Covid certificate now required by most airports and countries.
This also means more questions need to be asked, including:
- Do I need to quarantine?
- Do I book a room only rate as many restaurants are closed?
- Would I need to take my own lunch?
- Am I mentally and physically fit enough to travel?
- What rules have changed?
- Is my flight still available?
- Is my preferred hotel or airport available?
- What are the local lockdown rules?
Many are condensing longer trips to one day and travelling during off peak times to ensure social distancing measures can be followed, but every company has different policies in place and most importantly it depends on how an individual feels about travelling.
It is expected that business travel will return by 60% in 2021 with offices reopening and people feeling more comfortable about travelling. Top tips for returning to meetings and travelling, are:
- Spending money effectively – make sure flexible rules and restrictions are included.
- Check how complex the trip is in itself – understand all the points for risk assessment and pre plan.
- Pack travel essentials – you won’t just need your face mask and hand sanitizer; many airlines are asking for digital check in and digital tickets so ensure you have the right apps.
- Check flying and arrival requirements – check at the time of booking the time period of when you need to have a Covid test and valid certificate, if you need extra insurances, if you need to fill in a pre-arrival form and the form to return to the UK.
- Check the small print – many hotels won’t have full service capability, many airlines have different polices and if your journey gets cancelled whose liability is it?
- Monitor up to date restrictions – for example England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland have different rules. Check restrictions before you depart or return.