COVID-19 has changed the way individuals travel for business. Last year, many companies had to reduce and even stop corporate travel by trading face-to-face networking for virtual conference calls. Transforming corporate travel from personal to informal virtual platforms removes the human interaction that many companies rely on to conduct successful business. Because of these changes, new standards and policies are continually emerging to ensure compliance with government safety regulations allowing business travelers to safely participate once again in corporate travel.
Many companies restarting corporate travel this year will face some challenges. These issues can quickly become obstacles if not adequately prepared for. Corporate travelers will still encounter weather delays, budget restrictions and compliance to their company’s travel policies. But now, they will have to anticipate challenges like overall availability, additional cost and increased safety compliance.
Different state’s COVID-19 regulations have forced businesses to reduce occupancy and operating hours, which means fewer staff and options. Hotels must incorporate additional cleaning methods, often leaving recently occupied rooms vacant for several days after the traveler leaves to anticipate if that traveler tests positive for COVID-19 and cannot return home. Airlines had to reduce the number of trips and travelers per flight to meet safety standards and occupancy regulations. Flight vouchers from 2020 cancellations start to expire in 2021, so travelers must use them or lose them, further reducing availability. Besides car rental companies experiencing fleet shortages because of the reduction in semiconductors slowing new car production, they are dealing with an increase in reservations lasting longer. People are willing to drive further instead of flying. Companies are still trying to recoup lost profits from last year. With the loss of profits and the imposed limitations, prices continue to increase in the short-term.
Domestic travel is not the only travel impacted. Corporate travelers conducting business abroad have also been greatly affected by the pandemic. Visa approvals are taking months instead of a few weeks. Document requirements are continually changing. Sporadic border openings and closings continue to complicate corporate travel, often leaving the traveler with limited flight options.
Nevertheless, everyone is working diligently to keep you safe during corporate travel. COVID-19 testing requirements and availability are evolving with the continued release of vaccines, companies are implementing improved safety procedures daily and negotiated prices with vendors are still being honored. These above challenges may create hindrances as corporate travel starts to resume; however, they will not eliminate it. With the proper preparation and anticipation, corporate travel is emerging once again as an option to conduct daily business.
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