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Travel Manager Best Practices during the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 21, 2020

Current Travel Predictions: Return at a slow pace, depending on the company's urgent needs. Phased Approach, primarily driven by the re-opening and potential re-closing of borders as and when it is deemed safe to do so.


Start the internal conversation working with stakeholders and travelers in your company to determine what they consider to be the top three priorities with key dates to establish milestones around travel bans and company initiatives. When travel comes back, it would be very helpful for you in establishing a go-forward strategy and to keep management updated.

ENGAGE WITH SUPPLIERS to address the next steps and consider changing the way you buy from them. Remove the processes that drive little value, such as the standard RFPs, create processes during this slow period that enables a smarter contract that will ramp up at the same pace as your business. As capacity demands, travel suppliers such as airlines and hotels will need to factor in restarting routes and reopening properties considering needs, costs and resources. Organizations from both a buyer and supplier perspective will need to have the people, resources, support and training in place to deliver the new norm.


  • Consider changes to the way you manage travel in the future by permanently implementing a strategy for internal meetings and using alternative virtual solutions now so that all employees are familiar with this. Not only will this save you money going forward but will also reduce carbon footprint. Are their ways to ensure your program is fully managed and maximized through your agency partner?

  • Is a Pop-Up Policy needed? Term or policy used when the company needs to move away from their standard global policy for a specific reason/amount of time. Ex) Travel Restrictions, Post COVID-19 Travel Policy, a plan that travel leaders recommend to senior leadership prior to and during travel bans. Release and communicate to agency for proper enforcement and messaging.

  • Additions to travel policies that can restrict certain areas to their travelers and give travel managers the ability to adjust allowable cities on the fly with the changing landscape. Ex) Today it might be NYC and DTW, but tomorrow could be DFW and SAN. The travel policy needs to be able to adjust and be as dynamic as the day to day life we live in.

RECREATE THE DUTY OF CARE PROCESSES that will include additional requirements to ensure sharing data for internal initiatives to empower your travelers when they need to change plans quickly. As things differ from state, country and region, a standard checklist could help define the right actions for each company and area.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TRAVELERS How are they feeling, are they wanting to get back on a plane, are they concerned about traveling in the future, etc. What new processes will be in place at airports? COVID-19 testing, taking temperature, face masks, etc. Will travelers be more willing to drive vs. fly? Understand the needs of the traveler to build into your travel/duty of care/wellness program.

DEMO NEW TECHNOLOGIES using the new strategy you may not have had time to do before. Consider adding new tools to communicate with your travelers. Use this time to shift from travel manager to business owner of travel services, thinking like an entrepreneur, and disrupting the standard while no one is traveling, will prove to be enlightening. Implement the changes you make before travel comes back; travelers will be ready for the changes.

UNUSED TICKET MANAGEMENT IS VERY FLUID with the many airline policy changes. Companies need to know how much they have in credit and when that credit actually expires. Airlines are changing this almost daily, and TMCs are having to update reports to align and help clients maximize their funds.

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