Business travel is a key element of the operational plans of all major companies and businesses that operate in or have customers from multiple geographical locations. Since such travel usually happens to be between different jurisdictions and international regions, it is important to plan every aspect of travel including exigencies immaculately.
At times like now when the Coronavirus outbreak is wreaking havoc in the world, disruptions to the travel sector are inevitable. It is estimated that the losses to the business travel sector itself might be well over $800 billion already with the global spread still on the rise. With most of the affected countries gradually stepping up the isolation and lockdown measures to restrict the spread and avoid community spread of the disease, the outlook is tough presently. However, there are certain things that companies can do to reduce the likely losses and inconvenience caused by these disruptions to business travel.
Travel insurance coverage from Covid-19:
Different travel companies lay down their own terms for travel insurance. In most cases, January 2020 is being seen as the time when Covid-19 had become known to the world. Hence, any coverage purchased after might treat Covid-19 as a known/pre-existing risk, excluding it from coverage. The key is to pay attention to the Terms & Conditions and be clear about the coverage you are purchasing.
You must confirm the conditions related to the refund process in the event of a cancellation or change of dates for your trip. Covid-19 has already hit the industry hard and you might not want to lose money spent on your hotel bookings in the wake of this viral outbreak.
Airlines are more flexible and various national and international authorities have been directing them not to charge any cancellation fees from flyers who cancel their tickets. A lot of airlines are offering waivers to Covid-19 related cancellations while others are converting the cancelled ticket amounts into non-transferable travel credits for the future. Once again, it is important to check the terms with the respective airline.
All non-essential travel should be avoided such as routine trips by sales teams across countries to promote the products or performance review trips, incentive tours etc., which are commonly organized in the early summer months. For technical support teams or personnel who need to undertake a trip to prevent a service interruption or breakdown of operations, the trips need to be carefully planned. You must review the situation in destination area carefully and work out all possible scenarios such as the employees getting stuck in that location due to travel curbs or someone falling sick/getting infected by the virus. There has to be a detailed plan in place to execute steps needed in such scenarios including the information of medical services providers in the area etc.
At all times, the business travellers, travel planners and their companies need to remain constantly updated with advisories being issued by their local authorities as well as the authorities of the places visited. Being extra cautious is better than exposing yourself or the other travellers to any Covid-19 risks.
These are challenging times for all people and almost every sector of the economy. However, due to its nature and needs, business travel is more vulnerable to monetary and human losses in this hour. Hence, it is important for businesses to work in unison with authorities, medical guidelines and ensure least possible damage to their bottom lines!