COVID-19 has changed the needs of corporates and their travellers, both during and post pandemic, but how are TMC’s meeting new expectations, and at what cost? As the pandemic timeframe continues to extend, the economic impact on the corporate customer is leading to an economic recession scenario with travel budgets cut for the foreseeable future. But, to what degree this is already occurring ahead of any post pandemic recovery in demand, and what steps have been implemented by corporates to manage those reductions?
Equally importantly as airlines pivot towards “no vaccine, no fly” (at least for International travel), how will the concept of Vaccine Passports work? How will corporates get their younger travellers vaccinated if governments reserve vaccine supplies in the public health system and prioritise older and more vulnerable groups? Can the travel industry get moving again in 2021 under these scenarios?
Also, will a private market appear for vaccinations (and when will that occur), and a more cost effective and acceptable approach to testing? Some destination countries are suggesting they won’t re-open for visitors until 70% of their own population have been vaccinated, this may delay potential recovery in travel well into 4Q 2021 for many countries.
These were all major talking points that were discussed in a recent edition of CAPA Live – a monthly virtual summit, offering insights, information, data and live interviews with airline CEOs and industry executives across a next-gen virtual event platform – where Martin Warner, principal of MW Travel Consultancy, put some of these questions to Amarnath Lal Das, vice president – travel, meeting and events at Accenture and Peter Curtis, ANZ director, regional services at International SOS in a discussion into the changing needs of corporates and their travellers, how TMCs are meeting new expectations, and at what cost.
Vaccine programmes are now in action across many countries and there are more positive signs that we have a much better understanding of a pandemic that has brought travel to a near standstill over the past 12 months. But, it is a fluid situation and significant uncertainty remains. This means there are still “high levels of anxiety” regarding travel from both corporate travellers and their organisations, according Mr Curtis.
Mr Warner sees a marketplace where corporate travel budgets likely to be cut for the foreseeable future. “Clearly the pandemic has changed the needs of corporates and their travellers… and that will certainly be true post pandemic as well”. Certainly as the pandemic timeframe continues to extend, the economic impact on the corporate customer is leading to an economic recession scenario, with travel budgets that are likely to be cut for the foreseeable future,” he explained.
Accenture’s Mr Lal Das believes the new environment will mean the role of TMCs will change’ to become “more of a consultative and collaborative approach”. Mr Das added: “We expect the TMC to be a subject matter expert”, providing information and feedback on travel programmes and providing services across the entire traveller journey.
You can hear their thoughts in this video recording of the full CAPA Live session: