The health and wellness of corporate travellers has always been important, as it directly affects their performance. Oz Desai (pictured), General Manager Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT), says, “If your traveller is feeling unhappy or burned out, your business travel ROI is going to be affected. Business travel is so much more than getting a client onto a plane and into a boardroom. It’s about time, well-being and ultimately, success.”
However, the current pandemic has made health and wellness an even more urgent concern. In light of this, Desai shares these five tips for Travel Management Companies (TMCs) to better safeguard their clients’ wellbeing:
1. Put health and wellness front and centre
Travel experts need to bear in mind that they are not only responsible for their clients’ health, but also that of the families they are returning to.
To ensure clients travel safely and return home healthy, TMCs need to be savvy about their clients’ destinations (including an understanding of its COVID-19 profile and risks), which accommodation options are following the necessary protocols, and any underlying health issues that their client has.
2. Consider mental wellbeing
The global pandemic has added many new stressors to life, including its negative impact on businesses and employment. This can make people eager to ‘get back to normal’, while the risk of catching COVID-19 remains a legitimate concern.
TMCs can help their clients by providing information around:
- Different airline regulations
- New travel policies (for example, health passports or compulsory vaccinations)
- Flexible cancellation policies (in case of illness)
- Recommended health and safety measures (for each step of the traveller journey)
- A destination’s protocols and restrictions (for example, compulsory quarantine for inbound travellers)
Knowledge is power, and well-informed travellers are empowered to act in their best interests and with greater confidence.
3. Keep an open line of communication
As lockdowns are lifted around the globe, the regulations and requirements for travel are constantly evolving. TMCs need to ensure they consistently have the most up-to-date information, and can readily adjust a client’s travel plans if needed.
For example, this includes knowing about:
- New travel permits
- Flight changes
- Advice around quarantine regulations
- New travel bans or border closures
Desai adds that communication needs to continue post-trip, to analyse everything from ease of travel, stress levels, productivity, and the guest journey (including hotel stays, connectivity and service). Tracking data in this way allows you to constantly fine-tune and improve your service.
4. Never compromise on duty of care
The greatest responsibility of a travel agent is to bring their clients home safely. This is called duty of care, and includes:
- Vetting all travel service providers (airlines, shuttles, accommodation and more)
- Evaluating the risks a traveller might face
- Alerting travellers to any threats nearby
- Liaising with local embassies or consulates
A good TMC needs to be able to handle any crisis.
5. Put bleisure back on the agenda
With the opening of interprovincial leisure travel, bleisure travel is back on the table. Travel experts understand the importance of combining business with leisure (bleisure) to give their clients some down time during their trip.
This can have a huge impact on a traveller’s health, mental wellbeing and morale, and many are hungry for their kinds of experiences after being in lockdown for so long.
A TMC needs to be able to recommend safe bleisure options, whether just for the individual or for their family to join them.
The world is unlikely to return to ‘normal’ any time soon, if at all. Travel experts, travel managers and travellers need to be agile and resilient, with health and wellbeing now at the very heart of business travel, concludes Desai.