As business opens up and travel slowly begins to resume, there are added responsibilities for the TMC. These include keeping the traveller informed, trained and adequately prepared to travel, according to the discussion at a GBTA and International SOS panel on August 26.
Sentiments shared by the panellists indicate that travellers are not likely to be clued up on the steps they need to take to travel safely in the time of COVID-19. They should therefore be informed thoroughly and treated carefully.
Claude Vankeirsbilck, coo of Tourvest Travel Services, says he was surprised by the number of travellers who were still unprepared for travel under level 2, judging from his recent experience at a local airport.
“All you need now is a health document, but I saw people scrambling to find pens to fill in the health document at the airport. These documents are here to stay and people need to realise that they must be prepared,” says Claude.
Charline Gelin, security solutions director EMEA of International SOS, says when building a business travel programme, it is important to know that the traveller himself is not responsible for understanding the risks involved in a trip and that it may be up to the manager approving the trip.
“It is also important to consider how they (companies) train those who face these risks because this is a key component in duty of care. What type of training needs to be taken for a high-risk destination or a medium-risk destination, for instance?” says Charline.
She emphasises that there is no point in creating a travel security policy and publishing it online where it is never touched again. It should be a document that is referred to and updated regularly, and this would sit alongside a travel policy.
Claude says beside the traveller’s preparedness, the true test will be creating confidence in the traveller. “All the links in the travel and tourism supply chain must work on making travellers feel comfortable to travel again.”
He gave the example of one of his corporate clients which is making the effort to show its employees that it’s fine to travel. The executives are volunteering to do all the travelling first to demonstrate how it’s going to happen and why it’s safe.