Ready to board the future?
No travel professional can prepare for every contingency right now. For example, with as little as 24 hours notice, EU member states can create new restrictions on movement from a higher-risk country in the form of quarantines or COVID-19 tests upon arrival. Carriers are struggling to reinvent their hub-and-spoke networks amid shrinking demand. Recovery will take time, and suppliers will struggle with whether to absorb or pass along the increased costs of COVID-19 controls. And even the rhythms of travel are being disrupted and rewritten as the infrastructure and traditional passenger habits of terminals and stations are reforged.
There is a promising future in sight, however. A recent McKinsey report observes that after the last global recession, international leisure travel recovered more than twice as quickly as international business travel. The leading edge of that recovery may already be here. In China, key metrics of hotel occupancy and domestic air travel in the second half of 2020 were just 10–20% below 2019 levels. Innovation in the travel and event industries along with pent-up demand for in-person connections could speed the business side of the recovery as well.
Being prepared to ensure the well-being of each traveler is the paramount concern. Understand that the notion of a cookie-cutter business traveler has disappeared and that both your department and your suppliers need a more individualized approach. And take every opportunity to take friction and unnecessary contact points out of your travel process, saving time where possible by substituting self-check-in and keyless entry for lengthy interactions with gatekeepers. With these goals in mind, some of the barriers to a productive future of revitalized in-person collaboration will disappear.
This point of view was written by Stephen McGrane. Follow him on LinkedIn here.