Duty of Care may be a company policy designed for the business to better prepare its people to travel successfully and conduct business but it is also a company’s responsibility to know where their travelers are located and that they are safe, 24/7.So what does your policy look like post COVID-19?
Security measures from a health and medical perspective will be paramount in the new world of corporate travel. Businesses and travellers will need to adapt to the requirements of new entry and exit restrictions implemented by states and countries.
Airport and airline safety protocols will definitely change. Initially travellers may be asked to wear face masks and have their temperatures checked. Airlines, already practicing good sanitizing procedures, have already announced increases to their processes, including enhanced cleaning services, disinfectant fogging and advanced HEPA filtration of cabins.
Another consideration will be the implication of social distancing. Prior to COVID-19, 50 passengers queuing to board an aircraft would measure about 20 metres. With social distancing rules, the same queue is likely to be 100 metres.
More focus in Duty of Care programs post-COVID-19 will be for the travel components outside of air travel. Think taxis, Uber etc and with accommodation equating to approximately a third of an average business journey, this must be the primary focus.
Safety and security in hotel programs is not new. A good hotel program is already reviewing risks like fire plans, imminent violence and security but in the new environment, this should also include a health security plan.
Many companies strive for a 60 – 70% attach rate in their travel programs but the reality is that the average is more like 50%. Not knowing where your travellers are 24/7 is a massive risk. In the face of an event, how do you locate those staff booking outside policy?
Reviewing your travel policy and booking all travel through your travel management program should be mandated. Travellers and travel bookers need access to systems that automatically provide travel alerts, destination warnings and visa information at time of booking.
Traveller tracking is now not a nice to have option, it is paramount and a duty of care program that enables you to send alerts to travellers, regardless of where they are and at any time, is essential.
Travel alerts about a potential or current event should be timely and relevant. Your business process for acting on an emergency should also be reviewed. A good travel program has a documented plan with dedicated responsibilities, either in-house, third party or a combination, providing concise Information and assistance to travellers. There are already law suits in place against businesses who didn’t act swiftly enough repatriating travellers during COVID-19.
IATA last week are reporting an anticipated return to domestic travel by 3rd quarter and international travel commencing 4th quarter. Whether this is true or not, remains to be seen but one thing is certain, with so many aircraft sitting idle, the airline industry will be very keen for a return and the recovery will be swift, so we all need to be business ready.