CAPA Live: Corporate travel policy is evolving to meet the changing industry structure

21 July, 2021

The business travel landscape will look different tomorrow than it did yesterday. How different? It is still too early to define, but even if it looks similar there will be some short-term and permanent shifts in corporate travel policy. The Coronavirus pandemic has left an indelible mark on the sector and is having to adjust to the constantly changing environment.

Traveller habits will be different; businesses will look more closely at the necessity of in-person meetings versus the time and cost savings of technology substitute; costs will face increased scrutiny and environmental and sustainability drives will become the key driver of policy.

Whether a travel buyer, a TMC, hotel or other accommodation provider, airline, airport, mobility services provider, there is a need to evolve to the changing industry structure.

Speaking at the Jul-2021 edition of CAPA Live, Festive Road, APAC Principal, Mike Orchard highlighted that never has there been such a change in corporate travel policy than the alterations now being driven by the coronavirus pandemic, its associated mobility restrictions and lasting legacy. But, he questioned if these revisions will be permanent or if we will ultimately see a return to a pre-COVID normal.

Mr Orchard was moderating a special CTC – Corporate Travel Community Masterclass session exploring some of the key trends that will influence corporate travel policy in the COVID-19 recovery. Notably, considering how changing airline networks will impact travel decisions; supporting traveller sentiment and finding the right balance of corporate control; the hotel experience and what it will look like longer-term; and how sustainability will be a key influence at the heart of travel programmes.

The travel policy is “core to the whole corporate travel programme,” acknowledged Mr Orchard and is “so dynamic right now”. “I don’t think it has also ever been as important as right now,” he added.

Egencia, director of account management in Asia Pacific, Shwu Martelly, highlighted changing trends in travel policy among Egencia’s partners and noted that “travel managers are spending more time adjusting” to the environment.

According to HRS, director of enterprise solutions – Australasia & South East Asia, Philippa Johns, the current environment is “elevating the role of the travel manager within an organisation”, but it is a challenging situation and the biggest problem planning policy remains that the situation is “volatile and really depends on the market you are operating in”.

The biggest trend that she said “has been a long time coming” has been travel managers being able to take the time to sit back and identify “the right way to make the changes that need to be made” to travel policy. “If it is not now, then when? There is never been a better time to make changes to a policy than right now,” she said.

Magdalene Tennant, partner at Fragomen, a law firm dedicated exclusively to immigration services worldwide, said immigration compliance “will continue to play an important role” in travel policy, even into the post-COVID world. Business travel is “a bit of a headache for governments,” she explained. “How you differentiate is a grey area – business travel versus wanting to go and work somewhere,” she noted.

You can enjoy the full session and learn more insights from Festive Road’s Mike Orchard, Egencia’s Shwu Martelly, Fragomen’s Magdalene Tennant and HRS’s, Philippa Johns in this CAPA TV recording: