I have, in recent articles, been looking at some of the trends in corporate travel leading into and continuing through 2019. I touched on Bliesure travel recently, a growing trend to combine business and leisure travel, which could be one of the solutions to what is another growing trend – that of the need for more people orientated travel solutions to alleviate travel stresses.
What are travel stresses?
Travel stresses for corporate travellers can be varied and unfortunately numerous – time away from home, cancelled flights, changing plans and unhealthy habits while travelling. These all weigh upon corporate travellers. Travel anxiety is also common. Persistent anxiety and panic attacks happen simply because travel represents change and distance from comfort zones.
Then of course there can be health issues. The Harvard Business Review, titled “Just How Bad is Business for Your Health?” found that “frequent business travel (14 or more nights each month) heightened the risk of negative health consequences including anxiety, depression, obesity and alcohol dependence.”
Not all doom and gloom
In spite of this though, according to a TripActions’ 2018 business traveller survey, “almost 90 percent of employees see travelling as a perk of their job, while 80 percent feel more excited about their job after travelling.” So the need to travel is there, business must go on – the desire to travel is there, but what we as travel professionals need to recognise is that companies are looking to redesign travel policies to allow their employees to be happier, healthier and more productive when travelling.
What are the solutions?
The solutions it appears, rest partially with the need for greater efficiency and in particular taking cognisance of these issues by travel professionals and the employers themselves. The companies should support employees in the form of education, training and develop and encourage a corporate culture that underscores healthy business travel.
From the travel professional’s point of view, the TripActions 2018 State of Business Travel Report revealed quite a lot that can guide us to more people first travel solutions. “When faced with unexpected difficulties like flight delays and cancellations, or overbooked hotels, 64 percent of business travellers reported they felt they were left to deal with those issues on their own” states the report. “An employee that feels isolated, stressed, and distracted will not be at their best.”
The answer they feel – and I agree, lies in placing a greater focus on people above policy. Many corporate business travel programs are outdated, frustrating employers and employees alike.
We in the travel industry need to devise travel solutions that address these issues. More seamless, personalised travel solutions that don’t leave the corporate traveller out in the cold when travel issues arise. This is one of the reasons corporates should choose more globally connected TMCs who can, with partners on the ground everywhere, offer more immediate solutions.
A trend that will grow
Business travel in 2019 will only get bigger, and this evolution towards more people first travel solutions will continue to gain momentum. For many corporate employees, whether they like it or not (and fortunately it appears that most of them do) travel will be part of their deal, so they can only hope for a better travel experience that will leave them feeling fresher, more focussed and better equipped to do good business.
For us in the travel industry and corporate employers, we will all do well to remember people are – and always will be our biggest asset – so let’s continue to devise and implement better people first travel solutions that do alleviate travel stress!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER