Let’s face it – the world is NOT slowing down. Global business, and as a result, global travel continues to increase each year. Total global air travel demand increased 5.9 percent year over year in 2014, and capacity increased 5.6 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reporting that the aviation system is expected to reach one billion passengers per year in 2024.
An increase in travelers means an increase in potential travel disruption. This can cause a lot of frustration and heartache – for both travelers and their coworkers and families. In addition, travel disruption contributes to wasted funds for your business and a loss in productivity for your business travelers. As someone who manages the travel program in your organization, or works directly with your road warriors, how can you anticipate possible disruptions and in turn mitigate the challenges and stress that inevitably come with them?
What is disruption management?
There are a number of definitions of “disruption” in the industry today, so for the purposes of this post, we define disruption as those events that are known to potentially disrupt passengers. For example, weather issues, company strikes, equipment malfunction, etc. If you’ve done any sort of travel, either for work or pleasure, it’s quite likely that you’ve experienced travel disruption. The weather in your destination city is preventing airplanes from landing. Flight schedules are changed because of late arrivals or missed connections. These are frustrating when travelling for pleasure, and can be detrimental when travelling for your business.
How can this be managed to create little to no travel disruption?
It’s challenging to predict where or when an instance of travel disruption will take place, but being properly prepared can lessen the problems it can cause.
Having travel disruption protocols in place for your business is essential in keeping your road warriors safe and on schedule for their travel purposes. A recent GBTA Foundation study showed an overwhelming majority (83 percent) of organizations that have travel disruption/risk management programs, have protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their business travelers. A disruption management program can consist of traveler tracking, pre-travel information to prepare travelers, travel management company (TMC) engagement in support of protocols, pre-travel approval, automated communication about real-time risks, local providers for medical and security assistance and concierge services.
Technology has had a tremendous impact on managing traveler disruption. With automated security and data tools, like those from Sabre’s Security and Data Suite, travel managers have the ability to quickly locate travelers anywhere in the world, easily access information to contact travelers on the road, receive alerts when travelers have booked outside the travel policy, and access reports on traveler habits as needed. In addition, this technology collects all breaking news information and relays it to alert a travel manager if they have a security issue happening in real-time, where one of their travelers is located. When it comes to pinpointing travelers impacted by an emergency or a disruption, one-third (30 percent) of respondents say they can locate all impacted travelers in real-time when the need arises.
24/7 support from your TMC
Your travel management company can provide you with experts who know the best options for your travelers if they run into a disruption. This not only saves valuable time for those working with travelers - reducing a loss in productivity - but also reduces the wasted funds that your business would spend on addressing the problems caused by travel disruptions.
Benefits provided by your TMC
Employees are able to focus on their jobs instead of changes in their travel schedule. Your travel management company should have the ability to gather and assess travel information in real-time and adjust traveler itineraries as needed. In addition, TMCs offer preferred supplier agreements that can offer ways to avoid cancellation and rebooking fees.
A typical example is the changing or cancelling of flights prior to or during your business trip. Travel tracking technology combined with preferred supplier agreements, handled by the travel experts at your travel management company can assure that you’re on time for your business’ presentation, or back home for your daughter’s soccer game. This saves your traveler’s time, your business’ money and most importantly a lot of stress and frustration.
When your TMC has the experience and knowledge that is essential in working through travel disruptions, along with the 24/7 support that can be crucial during a travel issue, they provide peace-of-mind even during the most daunting travel situations.
At MacNair Travel Management, we’re blessed to work with some of the finest people in the travel industry. The level of commitment and passion our employees have to simply help people is evident daily, but especially during a travel crisis. Following is a note we received from our friends at Kaseman featuring our employee’s grace under pressure.
“MacNair Travel Management personally handles the majority of the travel requests for Kaseman personnel. Often, these personnel are traveling to or transiting through dangerous areas of the world, many times on last minute notice. MacNair’s quick responses and seemingly 24/7 availability help separate Kaseman from its competitors at the Department of State.
On February 21st, MacNair received a phone call from one of our employees, who was calling in a panic from Libya. She works at the Embassy in Tripoli. The situation in Libya was quickly becoming untenable, and she was searching for a way out. Her neighborhood in Tripoli was subject to heavy gunfire at night, and it was evident she was frightened. To further complicate the situation, she was trying to also evacuate her dog Zeus, a large German Shepard that is known as the unofficial mascot of the Embassy.
MacNair worked with us, through numerous late night and early morning phone calls and emails over the period of one week. Multiple itineraries were set up, all proving wasted effort as the Libyan government did not suitably protect the airport and passengers were unable to enter the terminal. Throughout all of the back and forth, changing and canceling of itineraries, bad cell phone connections and hastily written email communications, MacNair was the calm in the storm. Knowing they were working on finding a solution in the wee hours of the night reassured our employee that someone far away cared about her and her safety and that is priceless.
Our employee ultimately made her way out of Libya via ferry chartered by the US Government, and MacNair arranged for her travel home from Malta with her dog. I feel like they went above and beyond the call of duty in how she handled this situation. You all provide us with unmatched service, and I am truly appreciative.”
Whether you’re traveling from New York to California, or across the Atlantic, the odds of your road warriors encountering a travel disruption are high. By establishing travel disruption protocols, using the latest in available technology and working closely with an expert TMC, your business will benefit by saving money and an increase in traveler productivity.