On September 29th, we hosted our first town hall during the Traxo Travel Managers Office Hours webinar series. This webinar was only open to travel buyers to facilitate an open conversation regarding the countless hurdles travel managers now face, from traveler safety to expense reporting and what to do about unused tickets.
Roughly 100 travel managers joined to share their advice and ask questions about improving their travel programs.
[Poll] What Percentage of Your Travel Program has Resumed to Date?
The webinar kicked-off with a poll asking the group how much of their company’s travel had resumed since the pandemic began. Here are the results from 47 respondents:
Addressing Duty of Care During COVID-19
From there, the conversation started right up. One of the primary areas of concern for everyone was duty of care and how to ensure travelers feel comfortable and well-prepared while traveling.
One manager said her team provides personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. Another noted her team prepared a 70-page pandemic response manual to help them manage the existing situation while prepping for the next possible health crisis. Other attendees mentioned the use of COVID-response websites, resources, and FAQs to educate traveling employees.
What’s Keeping You Up at Night?
The event’s moderator, Justin Morris, asked the group what their biggest challenge in Q3 2020. Haliburton’s travel manager explained that her biggest challenge was traveler communication.
Because information on how to travel safely changes day-to-day, keeping up with traveler communication was an issue many managers agreed was an obstacle. However, some find help from their TMCs and the resources they have prepared to help companies address these evolving issues.
Business Travel Approvals & Program Mandates
Other issues travel managers face were travel approvals and changes to corporate travel program mandates. One attendee, Carmen from ICF, said her travel program had transitioned from being loosely-mandated to tightly-mandated. Thanks to ongoing communication and collaboration with each division in her company, she said she feels that travel and travel policies are better understood within her organization.
Another travel manager from Leggett mentioned that all of her company’s travel requires executive approval until travel resumes more fully.
Travel Program Overhauls
Justin Morris asked the group if they had implemented significant changes to their travel programs during the lull in corporate travel imposed by COVID-19. Another manager from Leggett said their program used to be a traditional “rent-a-plate” program but moved to a new TMC that’s helped them through their transition.
Another attendee mentioned that her company was taking this time to review its carbon footprint and produce a new sustainability initiative. She expects that her company’s operations will include a blend of in-person meetings and virtual meetings to keep travelers safe while reducing emissions.
Another attendee recommended TroopTravel, a travel technology tool, for planning the optimal location for in-person meetings based on emissions, travel time, cost, and other factors.
TMC Subscription Vs. Transaction Models
One travel manager from the University of Chicago brought up his concerns over suppliers and how well they’ll continue operating as the pandemic drags on. This led to a discussion about the sustainability of TMC transaction models. While several managers said they did use a transaction-based model, some agreed they were looking to transition to a subscription model in the future as travel ebbs and flows.
[Poll] How Much Are You Changing Your Travel Program During the Lull in Business Travel?
Travel Supplier Changes
The next topic of discussion centered around the changes within the supplier industries. One attendee said she suspects industries, such as the airline industry, will shrink, adapt, and continue operations, as it has during past disruptions. As an example, she sited larger airline’s partnerships with smaller airlines to expand their reach.
Restricted Suppliers: AirBnB, Lyft, and Uber
Many of the attendees weighed in on the suppliers currently restricted from their travel programs. Some said AirBnB was not a current option for overnight stays and others said their company’s never allowed the home-sharing platform. Many agreed they allowed for rideshare services, but they’re encouraging travelers to opt for rental cars during the pandemic.
Unused Tickets and Credits
Other issues attendees agreed they were facing were unused tickets and airline credits. Carmen from ICF said her company asked the airlines to place their credits on a UATP card so they could be used for anyone later on, rather than being reserved for certain employees.
Another attendee said she had an unused ticket protocol in place and asked her agency to help them identify tickets due to expire in the coming months so they could use those for essential trips.
A final note from another attendee reminded travel managers to negotiate the terms associated with UATP cards, as some come with high fees and restrictions.
Try Traxo for Free
To close the webinar, Traxo’s CEO, Andres Fabris, introduced a new opportunity for travel managers to try the Traxo platform for free. For travel managers who deploy Traxo before Nov. 30, 2020, they can experience how Traxo eliminates travel booking blindspots to improve duty of care, expense reporting, travel program compliance, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about trying Traxo for free, contact us today.