Life after the zoom: business travel agents plan a safe return to business travel | Instant News



SYDNEY – Business travel agents are using the coronavirus-induced lull in reservations to work with companies on how to get their staff out of Zoom videoconferences and safely return to the air. They are launching new tools to provide field information on mask requirements, social distancing regulations and quarantine rules, as well as hygiene details for hotels, airlines and ground transportation. Travelers are moving away from cheaper online bookings to seek advice from experienced consultants amid a slow but growing rebound in the business travel sector, which normally accounts for $ 1.4 trillion in annual spending. “I’m seeing a trend that is starting to accelerate … We can host Zoom or Microsoft meetings, but nothing beats face to face,” said Jo Sully, Asia Pacific regional general manager at American Express Global Business Travel . “I think it will be a gradual recovery in terms of that. People may be thinking” Should I just do it via Zoom? But the overall answer is that people will start traveling for meetings again, “said the director based in Sydney. His company predicts a return to around 60% -70% of usual volumes in 2021, with pre-pandemic travel levels taking until 2022 or 2023. New Zealand, which emerged from the lock in May, has already returned at half of last year’s national booking levels, said Jamie Pherous, managing director of Corporate Travel Management Ltd (CTM), based in Brisbane. “There is a pent-up demand,” he said. “I have been visiting some customers (in Australia) and the main feedback I receive is that we have crucial decisions to make that I can never resolve during a videoconference.” CTM survey found 90% of customers in Australia and New Zealand London-based Chris Galanty has had a negative impact on business growth due to their inability to travel. Chinese domestic bookings account for around 60% pre-pandemic levels and some European markets have started to accelerate as border restrictions are eased. “As countries take control of the real health crisis and the number of COVID cases stabilizes and local policy allows travel – that is, the blockages stop and the people can physically travel – business trips resume, “he said. “It does not reach levels prior to COVID. It reaches reasonable amounts in national and local regions.” Other factors slowing the return of business travel include the disruption of the corporate events calendar and the need for companies to be Akshay Kapoor, Senior Director of CWT, Multinational Client Group, Asia- Pacific, said Akshay Kapoor, senior director of CWT, more stringent in approving travel, with a duty of care to staff. “If I’m looking to travel, the company will ask me to go through several levels of approval,” said the Singapore-based executive. “This element of pre-trip approval is increasing. Companies are monitoring the purpose of the trip and whether people should travel very carefully, making sure they know where they are and how safe they are.” (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Stephen Coates)



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