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Balancing savings & safety in business travel: is agile technology the answer?

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On 11 June 2020, we hosted a webinar to discuss with industry experts whether you should have to prioritise safety or savings when it comes to corporate ground travel. This blog post serves as a debrief in case you were unable to attend the webinar in person.

Although the world has begun its recovery from coronavirus, we’re still not out of the woods yet. With infection rates steadying, there is still a significant risk of increased contamination in every country, particularly as we return to travel – whether corporate or leisure. We have to accept that COVID-19 is here to stay, and we must all begin adapting our processes for the foreseeable future.

We discussed this topic with two industry experts, Jan Dejosse from Rydoo, who represents the best in market leadership and Fabricio Daniele from Bird & Bird LLP, who is an expert consultant in customer services management.

Watch the event recording here:

Safety remains the priority

Although it’s tempting to return to life as we knew it, the majority of the population are not going to risk chancing another lockdown. A second lockdown could mean the end for many organisations – the effect on the global economy would be devastating. With this in mind, corporations should take the necessary steps to ensure social distancing is maintained where possible – and taking additional precautionary measures should also be a vital business decision. Beyond social distancing, employees and drivers should be wearing masks and adopting routine hand sanitising to reinforce customer trust.

“COVID is just the latest and most extreme example of many constantly changing balancing acts a travel manager needs to deal with. Balancing savings and safety demands expertise – and let’s not forget; it is personal. I am proud of the work we do here at Gett by vetting our suppliers and setting the standards for in-taxi hygiene.”  – Raj Das, Head of Global Enterprise, Gett.

The financial health of your business directly impacts safety

Without financial security, your business will fail in its duty to protect the wellbeing and lifestyle of its employees and stakeholders. There’s a lot of pressure on companies to provide meaningful safety procedures but to what impact on the financial stability of the organisation itself? It’s a delicate balance to perfect.

This is why the visibility of spend is crucial for travel managers. Without knowing what you’re paying out and how frequently ground travel is utilised, you’ll never be able to manage the spend confidently. Using a ground travel provider that offers users a comprehensive dashboard for tracking and tracing both travel spend and employee whereabouts is imperative.

Does the answer to the question lie in agile technology?

Should it be the case that you spend more on accommodation to keep employees happy while implementing a ‘travel less’ policy? Given that travel is a key contributor to revenue growth, this might not be a realistic option.

What if the answer is to utilise agile technology? Maximising your expertise while driving both savings and safety? Let’s ask our experts:

Jan from Rydoo says:

Although we’re seeing about a one-fifth increase in bookings at Rydoo, it’ll take a while to recover. I’m not sure it will ever fully-recover – who knows, we’ll have to wait and see. The only thing I do know is I don’t know anything!

We see a trend emerge with expenses. Before the pandemic, we processed nearly 200 million expenses, but this has completely dropped off, which is to be expected. The ‘flavour’ of expenses has also changed. This will be in large due to many of us working from home, with companies such as Slack leading the work from home movement.

In the UK alone, there was a 20% decrease in expenses being logged. Before, expenses were submitted for food and drinks, pizza meetings, client meetings etc. but now we see expenses that include software upgrades and office and IT equipment.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for a digital shift for many businesses – employees need to be able to submit expense reports digitally. No longer can they come into the office and print it out safely. It’s this shift to digital that can help you save money and make everyone’s job that bit easier.

Being able to cross-reference travel with expenses easily through a digital platform allows businesses to save time through automation. A platform like this is something companies need to seriously consider if they want to balance savings and safety in ground travel.

Fabricio from Bird & Bird LLP says:

As a global legal firm, we have offices in 29 countries, so ground transportation for us is always time-critical; we must arrive at important meetings on time. Availability also plays a large part in our ground transportation needs; our legal teams can be working overnight and require transport.

In cities such as London, delays can be inevitable with traffic and congestion all around, working with Gett enables us to receive a notification when there are delays so we can make alternative route plans. Fluid communication is paramount to ensure smooth service delivery.

I have a passion for customer services and have done for many years after working in my family-run hotel business. I quickly learned how not to do things! So excellent customer service is essential to me.

Although Zoom has been an invaluable communication tool throughout the pandemic, we don’t see it replacing how we communicate going forward. We can take the necessary safety precautions, such as social distancing, and deliver our employees safely to their destinations. Throughout the pandemic, we have still allowed key team members to attend physical meetings by using taxis.

Although this has just been out a short-term solution, we do not see this as sustainable moving forward. We will adapt our transportation policy to be more environmentally conscious as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

In summary, the responsibility lies with us to ensure that in a post-COVID world, we take steps to remove the fear of travelling for employees. Read next: How can you improve employee wellbeing, in a post-COVID world?

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