The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the travel industry. Earlier this week however, industry executives were finally able to see hope on the horizon. Pfizer has just announced that its vaccine candidate is 90% effective against the virus – marking the first sign of a future where cross-border travel is free from various forms of restriction. Is travel industry recovery next?
The announcement has already had a tangible impact on the stock market. According to Thestreet.com, American Airlines gained 25%, Delta Air Lines rose by 19%, United Airlines rose 20% and Southwest Airlines gained 16%.
Back in October before this announcement, IATA released research on Covid-19 transmission in airplanes. They found that, since the start of 2020, there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period, some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.
“The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, that’s one case for every 27 million travellers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring. Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings in-flight became widespread,” said Dr. David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor.
What does this mean for the buyer?
Many travel teams are already having conversations in their companies regarding a return to travel. A vaccine on the horizon and a safer traveller experience may accelerate that.
How can travel managers negotiate this in terms of programme policy, stakeholder engagement and ongoing post-covid programme management?
1. Create a new travel policy
Companies would already have started working on a new travel policy that factors in information like border entry requirements etc. Make sure this is up to date. For example, do travellers need to have proof they have had a vaccine. What form will this proof be in? What time constraints are there in place for procuring this proof?
2. Introduce a proactive pre-trip approval process
Having a policy is still no use if that policy is not enforced before trips are approved. As Covid-19 restrictions will have a major impact on whether travellers can safely take their trip, ensure that an adequate pre-trip approval process is in place with multiple stakeholders signing off (HR, Security, Risk Management and employee line managers are some key people to include in the process).
It is ideal to have the sign off process in place at the point of booking yet, if this is not possible, introduce a real-time pre-trip data feed that reports on all bookings made before the traveller flies. That way no traveller can skip approval processes.
3. Communicate with stakeholders effectively
Multiple more teams will now be involved in travel policy creation. Security, Risk, HR and even the C-suite. Ensure that all parties know when decisions take place and have an opportunity to engage and voice their opinion.
Communicate with each stakeholder according to their level of interest in the project and the impact they have. Some need to be collaborated with more whereas others need to just be informed.
4. Look to the data first
With many stakeholders getting involved, there may be a temptation to make programme decisions based on opinions. Data, however, is always the best way to inform ongoing strategy. For example, analyse data on changing restrictions so your travel strategy has the correct information going forward. Look at airline data and route volumes to see which segments, routes etc are most important to your company and make sure preferred airlines will continue to serve them. Analyse the rates you are getting with your preferred hotels and compare them to ADR (Average Daily Rate). Lastly, as predictive capabilities in data become more advanced, use forecasting to assess the projected value of policy changes before you make them.
Underpinning all this, your data strategy must provide you with a true and accurate picture of past and present programme activity and be presented in a way that stakeholders can understand.
In this time of uncertainty, having the right data is your best shot at making decisions with confidence. PredictX delivers accurate, multi-source travel programme data visibility that drives programme improvement. If you need help devising a data strategy best fit for your programme, book a consultation with a member of our team.