The pandemic has highlighted the importance of respectful travel. But what does respectful travel mean in 2021 and beyond?
We’ve worn masks. We’ve stopped shaking hands. We’ve sat in countless Zoom meetings. The norms and behaviors of doing business have changed in the wake of COVID-19. But, as professionals begin to leave the office for work again, what does it mean to emphasize respectful travel?
Airports, airplanes, hotels, conference rooms and convention centers will begin to fill again with people. For Travelers, that means being aware of the needs of those around you will be more important than ever. As business travel ramps up, here are 5 ways to pursue respectful travel and to be a good citizen of the business travel world.
Be Prepared Before You Go
Respectful travel begins before you leave for the airport. Research and look into the regulations and guidelines in place in the area where you’ll be traveling before your trip begins. This is especially important if you’re going to be traveling in a foreign country.
Luckily, new tools and resources exist to help Travelers identify the documentation needed to travel to specific destinations, as well as the rules around travel. For example, United Airlines offers a series of tools to inform their passengers ahead of trips, including a restrictions map. Your airline is a great place to look for information before you travel, as it your travel management company. Take advantage of these new tools and resources to streamline the research process before you leave.
Pack for Pandemic-Like Conditions
Just because people are starting to get vaccinated and the rate of infection is dropping doesn’t mean we can set aside masks and hand sanitizer.
When packing, pack as though the pandemic is in full swing. There are 2 primary reasons for this. First, most health organizations continue to recommend taking COVID-19 related precautions, including wearing a mask indoors and regularly using hand sanitizer. And, second, you will want to be respectful of the people around you. In some cases, people will feel more comfortable if you’re wearing a mask and taking precautions. And, in other cases, you will not always be dealing with people who are vaccinated — which means that taking a pandemic approach to interactions is the safest and best thing for you to do for all parties.
Compounding matters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines in May that suggest fully vaccinated individuals can “resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.” But there are a number of caveats to this new guideline. Given the uncertainty and ambiguity around masks and social distancing right now, it’s best to stay conservative — especially when traveling. When in doubt, continue to wear a mask and keep your distance from others.
Default to Health and Safety
If we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. When you’re traveling away from the office for work, you should always default to health and safety. This is not just a way to travel respectfully, it’s the best thing to do for you and your business.
There’s no risk worth taking in pursuit of your work. If you hear on the news, through colleagues, or through other sources that the situation in the area where you’re traveling is changing for the worse, do your best to get home as soon and as safely as possible. This is especially important when you’re traveling in foreign countries.
Find Quiet Places to Spend Time
Traditionally, business travel has been defined by time spent in crowded spaces. Airports are often crowded in the mornings as professionals head out for work. Hotel lobbies are often crowded in big cities where work is done. And business Travelers often visit crowded places to see the sights in the evening after work is done, or simply to grab a bite to eat before heading to the hotel for the evening.
Respectful travel means doing things a little bit differently in 2021.
Give yourself plenty of time during the travel process, including checking in for your flights and checking into hotels. Giving yourself more time allows you to create some additional space between you and others as you try to get to your destination. This is respectful travel in a post-pandemic world.
Once you reach your destination, continue to give yourself and others as much space as possible. This may mean getting takeout rather than sitting at the bar for dinner. And, in crowded places like New York City, for example, it will mean spending time in places like Central Park where you can find some open space rather than spending time in Times Square where it’s difficult to separate yourself from others.
Stay in Constant Touch With Your TMC and Travel Manager
Your company has a duty-of-care responsibility to keep you safe and healthy while traveling away from the office. Help your company live up to that duty-of-care responsibility by always staying in touch, following travel policies and booking trips using the tools provided by your company. When you book in-policy, communication between Travelers and their home offices is often automated.
Today’s best TMCs have tools in place that allow them to support Travelers before, during and after their trips. Take advantage of these tools to get support and assistance should you need it during your trip. Respectful travel in 2021 means being prepared for the unforeseen by having access to support and assistance at all times. This prevents you from needing to seek assistance in the immediate area, which also limits your interactions with others.
Does Your Business Have the Right TMC?
High-quality TMCs know how to promote and support respectful travel. At JTB Business Travel, we have in place the tools and services needed to assist business travelers before, during and after their trips — no matter where they are traveling in the world. Behind every service we provide and every recommendation we make is a common-sense approach to business travel.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you travel respectfully.