More or less everyone is in agreement that their desire to travel has been impacted by the increased risk of catching coronavirus. However, by and large, the travel industry has found that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to travel, it just highlights how their travel preferences have changed.
A study by Collinson reveals that business travellers, like most travellers, have experienced increased mental health concerns as a direct result of travel during the global pandemic. Pre-pandemic, 35 per cent of business travellers said that business travel impacted their mental health; now, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of business travellers worldwide say they will prioritise their mental wellbeing more when they travel in future than they did before the pandemic.
And, of course, the increased travel risk present in the current climate will do little to alleviate this level of stress. It’s therefore no surprise that British business travellers would be most likely to pay for a free seat next to them when flying, followed by Covid-testing upon arrival to improve their journeys.
A holistic approach to traveller wellbeing is needed
What does this tell employers? That they need to have travel risk management (TRM) solutions in place that put their employees’ health and wellbeing first.
“In order to make business travellers feel comfortable travelling again, it won’t just be a question of Covid-19 measures such as testing and vaccinations. Communication is key, and as such, employers and their medical assistance and TRM service partners need to take a holistic approach regarding traveller wellbeing,” said Collison joint Chief Executive David Evans. “This can include propositions directly addressing travel stress concerns, such as access to lounge, or working together with TRM solutions providers to explain exactly what’s on offer through these programmes and how employees can access these services.”
Indeed, Collinson’s study found that there is still an incentive to travel among employees: four in five business travellers (81 per cent) have seen their jobs affected by a lack of cross-border business travel; one-third say that not seeing clients face-to-face has negatively affected the way they do business; and 28 per cent say the lack of travel has left them feeling unable to do their jobs effectively.
“The research shows a tension between the importance of business travel, which employees say allows them to do their job better and makes businesses more productive, and caring for them while travelling,” Evans reasoned. He added: “This is an opportunity for businesses to understand what their employees want from the future of corporate travel and build this into their programmes to offer the right support and provide a great experience for employees, partners and clients when taking to the skies again.”
In our April issue of the Assistance & Repatriation Review, we looked at the wealth of tech and communications-based assistance offerings available on the market, and how these proved integral to assisting travellers (business and leisure) during the global pandemic.