Why travel safety will be an ever-present focus post COVID-19
The travel industry, like most industries, has undergone major changes due to the impacts of COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, many of us have been working from home to halt the spread of the virus. As countries, cities, and states begin to open up and governments ease restrictions, travel will begin to pick up, first domestically and then internationally. That’s not to say that travel will be the same as it was in 2019. Business and leisure travellers will have new worries, concerns and requests - all with the goal of keeping safe.
Staying safe will be the main concern for workforce travellers post COVID-19, but what exactly will the new normal look like?
1. New preferences for rooms
Before the pandemic, many workforce travellers didn’t have much preference for the type of room they were booked into. In industries like construction, many didn’t mind sharing a hotel room with a colleague. Now, travellers are looking for more space. We’ve been seeing an increase in bookings on our platform for serviced apartments and aparthotels, particularly in the U.K. and in Germany. Guests have more space and have the ability to eat or cook in the room rather than dining out. Serviced apartments typically include a fully stocked kitchen, maid service or package, and sometimes even room service.
2. Increased communication about cleaning measures on planes and in hotels
We’re all nervous to begin travelling again, whether for leisure or business. But, hotels and travel platforms are putting in place many new operational changes to keep guests safe. We’ve talked to dozens of hotels and serviced apartments over the last few months who’ve shared detailed plans on new hygiene measures. Some are leaving rooms vacant for 72 hours between guests, all have increased cleaning standards in rooms and common areas, and many are providing comprehensive training to all staff to ensure compliance.
As a business traveller, you should expect information on the cleanliness of the hotel or apartment prior to arrival, and ensure they are complying with the guidelines recommended by the WHO. All properties listed on Roomex are certified clean and highlighted within the platform. Our travel experts are also contacting hotels on behalf of customers to ensure the hotel is abiding by stringent cleaning measures and is fully operational.
3. Contactless payments
The move to contactless payment has been gathering pace in recent times and has been sped up even further by COVID-19. Travelling with cash is going the way of ordering goods using a fax machine, and many companies are taking note. In our personal lives, we’ve become used to ‘tapping to pay’ with our mobile phones or credit cards - but in workforce travel, there are often many hoops to jump through and a lag in repayment. Not to mention, many merchants are no longer accepting cash due to the impacts of the pandemic, and requesting customers use a contactless payment method.
In reaction to these changes, Roomex has recently developed a solution for workforce travellers used to paying with cash and often out of pocket, RoomexPay. It’s a smart, end to end workforce spend management solution. Its prepaid card eliminates expense management and gives users full visibility and control of all in-trip spend. Many companies are uncomfortable providing travellers with corporate credit cards due to risks associated with them, and now with the decrease in acceptance of cash, RoomexPay will be the solution. Companies have full, remote control of how much money each card user has access to, and have a live, real-time view of every transaction, and can turn off any card within seconds through the app.
4. Flexible, refundable rates
Travellers and travel managers are looking to book fully refundable rates for the foreseeable future. We’re unsure what the rest of the year will bring, and where the next ‘hotspot’ could be or if a project could be cancelled last minute. To reduce the stress and risk of financial loss, most hotels and serviced apartments are offering fully refundable and flexible rates. Our travel experts also recommend booking only flexible rates for the time being, until there is more stability. We’ve added an extra filter in Roomex to only display refundable rates, so they appear at the top of every search.
5. Enhanced Duty of Care
Duty of Care has always been a central part of business travel. The pandemic has increased the need for a detailed and well-thought duty of care to employees. One aspect of Duty of Care is knowing where all employees have travelled in the past, and exactly where they are should something happen.
A lot of companies still book workforce travel with multiple bookers through various leisure sites, making it difficult to maintain a procedure to keep track of all past, present and future trips. It’s recommended to use a centralised system to book workforce and business travel, especially for the duty of care aspect, so its fast and easy to look up reservations and locations. The second a booking is made in Roomex, it’s immediately viewable in Roomex Analytics where the user can view savings, compliance, city, booker, traveller, and more. On top of this, reservations also go directly into our live Duty of Care map. Here, users are able to view all trips, past, present and future and get in touch with any employee.
Get in touch with our hotel experts to learn more about updates we’ve made to this feature in reaction to the pandemic, and how it will benefit your duty of care policy.
6. Tighter travel policies
Many businesses have faced budget cuts due to the impacts of COVID-19, resulting in less flexibility in room night prices. Travel policies, more than ever are relevant for keeping travel budgets in check. The majority of CFO’s and finance teams don’t place controls around business travel- yet it can account for up to 10% of their total operating expenditure. By implementing a travel policy by city, team, or reason for travel, you’re able to gain visibility and get control of this unmanaged spend.
Roomex is personalised to each company, so travel policies are displayed right in the search results when looking for a hotel. The benefit to adding travel policies directly into your hotel booking platform is that bookers immediately know if the hotel they are looking at is in policy, and travel managers or finance teams can see at a glance who is booking most often out of policy and where. This detailed report shows how much your travel policies match reality. Because many companies are either updating their travel policies or creating them for the first time, we’re offering free travel policy consultation to advise you to create a company-wide travel policy for your staff. Get in touch our team here.
Everyone is wondering what business travel will look like in a post-COVID-19 world, and doing their best to plan and provide employees with the information they need to stay safe while saving the business time and money. Whether that means providing a stronger duty of care, a tighter travel policy, rolling out a new expense platform, or booking more serviced apartments - business travellers will be safer than ever going forward.