As business travel resumes amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, keeping connected with business travelers has taken on renewed urgency for companies and their travel managers, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) says in a recent survey.
The pandemic has accelerated the need for travel managers to communicate often complex, fast-changing information while not only deciding what to communicate, but also how to communicate most effectively.
GBTA’s recent survey “No Reservations: Travel Program Communications from the U.S. Business Traveler’s Perspective” conducted by Dinova Inc., examines how travel programs communicate versus how US business travelers want them to communicate with them, in the Covid era and beyond.
The survey was conducted from August 20 to September 8, 2021, with responses from 508 business travelers in the US.
It highlights what business travelers want now:
Some business travelers need more info
Most business travelers already feel they have enough information about various Covid-related travel changes. However, a fairly significant minority need more information. If they were to take a work trip in the next six months:
– 46 percent said they would need at least some additional information about country-specific entry/quarantine requirements
– 42 percent would need some additional information about measures that travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels, and restaurants are taking to reduce Covid-19 spread
– 41 percent would need some additional information about emergency resources (i.e., who to contact if they have Covid-19 symptoms or another medical emergency while traveling)
– 36 percent would need some additional information about their company’s trip approval process (i.e., the steps they would need to take to get permission to travel in the current Covid-19 environment)
– 31 percent would need some additional information about their company’s Covid-related travel policies (i.e., whether their company currently allows travel or whether they need to receive a vaccine before traveling).
An overwhelming majority of business travelers said it is “important” or “very important” to learn about the Covid-related safety measures of hotels (94 percent), airlines (93 percent), airports (92 percent), restaurants (86 percent), car rental companies (84 percent), and ride-share/taxi companies (82 percent).
These can include cleaning and sanitation efforts, mask and vaccine requirements for staff and customers.
Email is still king
Business travelers overwhelmingly want their company to use email to share information about travel policies and travel-related resources.
Four in five (81 percent) include email as one of the top five communication methods they want their company to use (out of 13 tested), which is by far higher than the share for any other method.
Internal collaboration platforms gain traction
Companies widely use internal collaboration platforms ─ such as Slack and Microsoft Teams ─ to facilitate collaboration between colleagues. However, these are not widely used for travel program communication.
Only one-third of business travelers (32 percent) say their company uses an internal messaging or collaboration platform to communicate about travel. In addition, only one-third (33 percent) include this method as one of the top five that used to communicate about travel.
A larger number of business travelers (51 percent) include the company Intranet/employee portal as one of their top five preferred communication methods. This is a mainstay of travel program communication that business travelers continue to value.
Getting more mobile
Despite recent progress, travel programs largely do not use mobile-first communication methods. Or if they do use these methods, business travelers might be unaware.
Only about one-third of business travelers (36 percent) say their company communicates about travel via text messaging and only about one-quarter (21 percent) say it communicates via push notifications through a mobile app.
Send me a text
Business travelers prefer text messaging over push notifications.
Half of business travelers (51 percent) include text messaging as one of the top five methods they want their company to use to communicate about travel. This compares to only 23 percent who include push notifications through a mobile app as one of the top methods.