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Essentials for Essential Travel

By Jason Jourdan

Once expected to hit $1.7 trillion by 2022, business travel spending and the lofty prognostications of its growth have dissipated in the wake of a global pandemic.  According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the business travel industry faces an $820.7 billion loss.

Research firm Mckinsey & Company projects the industry will take years to achieve COVID-19 recovery and rebound at a much slower rate than leisure travel. After previous large-scale events, like 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008, the business travel industry took two to three years to rebound. However, those challenges did not include health and safety concerns, economic shutdowns, or massive reductions in international travel!

Pandemic conditions find most companies canceling conferences, trade shows, and business meetings. Organizations are restricting personal and business travel for their employees in favor of work-from-home and videoconferencing policies instead of in-person meetings.

Despite all of these factors, business travel has not ceased entirely.

Businesses are still undertaking essential trips while grappling with the impacts of adjusting to remote work. These solutions aren’t advantageous for every business model. Companies risk losing clients or contracts due to the absence of face-to-face meetings. In-person interaction has always been a cornerstone in building stronger and longer-lasting client relationships.

For instance, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby recently stated, “The first time someone loses a sale to a competitor who showed up in person is the last time they try to make a sales-call on Zoom.”

When COVID-19 restrictions ease, business travel will make a comeback. Businesses will need to know what the new normal for business travel looks like, especially international travel. Airlines are already reducing the number of flights, which translates to fewer direct flights.

The limited availability of flights will drive higher rates and force business travelers to spend more time in airports waiting for their connections. Social distancing precautions, like empty middle seats, will only further decrease the supply of ticketed seating.

Many organizations are implementing flexible travel and expense policies geared toward the safety of their employees. A GBTA shows 62% have modified their travel safety and security policies, with 55% reporting new trip approval procedures designed to assess the risk levels involved in each trip.

Corporate travel managers must be ready to protect employees and their company’s reputation with comprehensive employee safety plans. Resources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) provide information for making informed business travel approval decisions.

Countries’ recovery rates will vary as governments establish guidelines for permitting passengers in and out of their counties. International travelers may require a medical certificate or some other form of vaccination proof before being admitted into the country. As corporate travelers settle into a new routine, companies will be reevaluating their positions on the importance of travel insurance.

Travel insurance used to be considered an add-on often waived in favor of cost-cutting measures. Since the onset of the pandemic, companies have lost money due to non-refundable flights and hotel deposits. Travel insurance is trending higher as more organizations are seeking greater protections for their business travel.

Standard insurance plans do not offer sufficient coverage for the era of COVID-19. For added protection, travel managers are implementing new policies requiring employees to obtain independent travel insurance with flexible options like ‘cancel for any reason’ or CFAR coverage. This allows for cancellation prior to travel as well as in-travel cancelations for small fees and partial refunds. Companies concerned with their associates’ safety while traveling abroad are insisting on international travel medical insurance. With experienced
providers like Point Comfort® , many corporations are developing enhanced policies to protect their people.

With expertise and medical expense coverage for Covid-19 up to $100,000, Point Comfort® plans include benefits for a range of contingencies, including Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation, Emergency Medical Reunion, Return of Minor Child, and Local Burial or Cremation. Most standard domestic policies have minimal to no international coverage.

Before resuming business travel, companies will need to update their travel policies to keep up with health and safety regulations to protect their employees as they renew invaluable face-to-face contact with their customers.

To quickly adapt to the new norms and get going, Point Comfort®  International Travel Medical Insurance is the flexible choice for business traveler protection!  

CLICK HERE for a FREE quote and to learn more about International Travel Medical Insurance!