Businesses are taking stock of everything that’s happened as a result of COVID‐19 and are taking a fresh look at how to approach the future – including asking the question of how to facilitate essential travel for business in the safest possible way.

It’s clear the virus will not disappear overnight, but with gradual and promising progress for initiatives (such as airport testing and travel corridors), many companies are looking at ways to work practically with the reality that the virus will be with us for some time. Although employee safety and confidence has always been a priority, organizations must assess how to mitigate the risks of business travel in the new normal.

Of course, business travel will continue to look very different as the ability to travel between countries and even between states continues to change. As we’ve seen COVID‐19 cases spike across the United States, borders may open and close with little notice, travel requirements and quarantine periods can change from one day to the next, and coronavirus cases can spike in new locations without warning.

With this amount of uncertainty, imagine how your company would handle it if a staff member traveled to a location that suddenly experiences a spike in COVID cases. What support can be provided? What happens if a local lockdown is imposed and the employee cannot return home?

Or, what if the employee tests positive for COVID at the airport, cannot fly, and needs to find a safe place to isolate – how will they know which hotels have policies and procedures in place to effectively deal with self-isolating guests?

Now, more than ever, businesses need to put traveler well-being first. For essential travel in the era of COVID, employees need robust pre‐travel screenings and preparations such as COVID testing, reliable access to 24/7 medical and travel advice, and detailed contingency planning that anticipates the unexpected.

Already part of robust travel risk management programs, tracking solutions will be deemed more valuable by traveling employees in the COVID era to ensure critical support is available should an unexpected event or emergency occur. Through itinerary tracking, an organization has a view of a traveling employee’s scheduled journey and dates of travel. Geolocation, through a traveler-tracking app, is what enables real‐time contact to be made with an employee and to provide them with information and support as required.

Anything tracking‐related becomes a natural concern for privacy – but many geolocation tracking platforms can be configured to privately activate in background mode, and only in the case of a high-risk event.

Another concern may be the sharing of personal medical information, as part of individual-based risk assessments. External travel risk management providers can help organizations to comprehend and manage the risk presented by any traveling employee, without being party to the specific details and thereby violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or other privacy laws.

Traditionally, there have been challenges around employee buy‐in and adherence to corporate travel policy and in‐channel bookings. Today, however, employees are well aware that the world of travel isn’t what it used to be, and personal health and well-being are more of a focus than ever. The natural progression should be that traveling employees see the true value of travel risk management programs and tools such as itinerary tracking and geolocation. Businesses can also help by clearly communicating both obligations and advantages of corporate travel policy adherence. This includes reminding workers that in‐channel booking provides access to a safer travel experience in general, as well as extras like the comfort and safety of an airport lounge.

Source: Phocus Wire

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