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By Patrice Simon, CTO Data and Analytics, CWT
The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted the travel and hospitality sectors, and corporate travel in particular. For most companies, domestic and international business travel has almost come to a standstill.
The pandemic has forced technology providers to look for innovative solutions to address the spectrum of issues that have emerged, and find ways to make governments, companies and travelers feel confident about a safe return to travel.Technology innovations have primarily focused on helping companies and their traveling employees be aware of and comply with health and safety requirements, providing guidance on the health risks enroute and at their destination, and limiting the risk of Covid-19 spread.
Governments around the world have implemented a raft of measures in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. These include restrictions on cross-border movement, testing and quarantine regulations, limits on gatherings,as well as requiring people to wear masks or face coverings in public. One of the biggest challenges for the travel industry, however, is thatthese health and safety restrictions can vary widely one country to the next, and often even within the same country.
Risk managementis another area where technology plays a key role.Companies are looking at making changes to travel policies such as pre-trip approvals, so they can have greater visibility and control over their employees’ travel. Technology is making the pre-trip approval process more efficient, as well as more robust. At the same time, organizations are seeking curated information that is relevant to their individual travel programs, so they can assess risks and act quickly if needed.Tech-powered solutions are being used to provide up-to-date, relevant COVID risk and travel restriction information amalgamated from multiple sources in a way that makes it easy for companies’ travel and risk management teams to ascertain how prevalent the pandemic is in a given country and how it is trending. When combined with booking data which is updated in near real-time, this can help shape policy changes and identify trips booked that may require some attention, action or intervention.
Technology is also being applied to minimize the spread of covid-19by driving contactless engagement. While the movement towards contactless solutions was underway well before Covid, the pandemic has certainly spurred the speed of development and deployment of these solutions spanning the full journey from reservations, to check-in and stay, all the way through checkout and post-travel settlement.
At the end of the day, it will take a number of factors –not least the development of an effective vaccine – for companies and their employees to feel confident that it’s safe to travel again.But without a doubt, technology will play a key role in making widescale travel in the post-Covid world a reality.