The pandemic has brought huge changes in travel patterns and business travel stakeholders are revamping measures so that corporate staff will be able to travel with peace of mind.
Speaking at the CTW round table discussion entitled Getting Back in the Air last week, Hamish Wang, associate director, Travel Meetings Card Operation and Fleet, MSD China said that internally, the company needs to review its policies to meet the new normal.
“We can see that travel behaviour and patterns have changed a lot. Travel booking periods have also become shorter because staff can only confirm their trip after a clear low-risk indication.
“Meeting sizes have shrunk, and lengths of stay have also been reduced, as employees themselves want to reduce their travel time. All these need adjustments on travel arrangements and policies,” Wang pointed out.
He also pointed out that companies need to regain travellers confidence by providing detailed information during the journey and at the destination, as travellers need to know what kind of changes they are expected to face at the airport, and how they can better prepare themselves.
It also involves the “drilling and simulations across departments in the company” to ensure staff are prepared for all situations. For instance, how the company is able to support and help local staff should a policy at the destination suddenly change while staff are already onboard the plane, or happen to test positive at the destination.
In the meantime, Echo Li, head of medical advisors, Greater China Assistance Service, International SOS, shared that advice her company has given to clients is to be prepared for all possibilities, such as being held up in their destination.
She also added that companies need to also pay attention to the psychological health of the staff.
“(Since the pandemic hit last year), we have noticed that a lot of corporate employees’ mental health and emotional states were greatly affected, which in turn has affected their normal work output. Their mental and emotional instability may also affect the moods of the employees around them,” she elaborated.
In the meantime, Haibin Wang, customer relations department manager, China Southern Airlines, related how the airline managed to achieve zero Covid-19 cases despite lending a helping hand during the pandemic.
In 2020, the airline carried 25,000 medical professionals, flew 19,000 flights, and 29,000 tonnes of medical supplies domestically, and retrieved 24,000 Chinese nationals who were stranded overseas.
Complementing the airline, MSD China’s Wang, said: “The airline sent out epidemic alerts and informed passengers what the local policies were, and what they needed to prepare for upon arrival at the airport. Staff were also on hand to provide guidance and help with making advance arrangements.”