Today’s traveller needs up-to-the-minute information, trusted advice and a sense of humour – so here’s some top tips for business travel.

While for South African’s it’s tempting to pop the champagne, pack our bags and prepare for lift off after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s September address announcing the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, it might not be quite so simple.

After six months of lockdown, Alert Level 1 is indeed a milestone, but the reopening of borders on 1 October 2020, doesn’t necessarily herald a return to normality. Indeed, travel may look very different for months to come.

Oz Desai, General Manager Flight Centre Business Travel, believes that while travellers are keen to get back on the road, it is not without some trepidation: “Research tells us that business travellers are keen to travel once more, not only because of zoom-fatigue and the importance of face-to-face meetings, but because they’re craving an escape – and business travel offers new experiences, bleisure opportunities and personal enjoyment. But travellers are still weighing the pros and cons, especially when it comes to COVID rules and regulations.”

Top tips for business travel
Top tips for business travel

10 tips for business travel

Study up on your destination

Keep tabs on government notifications for your destination and stay on top of developments for your own region as well as any places you intend travelling. Will you need to produce a negative COVID test on arrival? Will you be required to self-quarantine? And if so, for how long? Does your intended destination have a curfew in place? How will their lockdown regulations impact your travel plans?

“Knowledge and preparation can reduce anxiety around travelling,” says Desai. “Make sure you get your information from a trusted source – and arm yourself with detail.”

Travel direct – if you can

Perhaps the most daunting part of business travel at the moment is navigating air access and available air routes, including transit destinations (with their own requirements).

If possible, fly direct. Not only will it simplify matters in terms of COVID red tape, but you’ll avoid spending more time in other airports – reducing COVID touchpoints. Direct flights to many destinations are not a possibility at the moment.

Source flexible booking options

Checking the small print has never been more important. A good travel company will make sure you will have flexibility in terms of postponements, cancellations, refunds or vouchers. This is critical should your trip be postponed due to circumstances (for example, border closures) out of your control.

Check that your accommodation has the ‘stamp of approval’

In South Africa, the Tourism Business Council of South has developed comprehensive health and safety protocols for all tourism-related facilities, establishments and accommodation. Importantly, the TBCSA protocols have received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) stamp of approval. Your Travel Manager will make sure to check the establishment’s TBSCA accreditation within South Africa – and will ensure accommodation establishments have the WTTC ‘Safe Travels’ stamp when you are travelling abroad.

Pack well

It’s never a bad idea to have a few extra cloth masks tucked away, just in case. Don’t forget to pop a travel-sized (max 100ml) bottle of hand sanitiser into your carry-on bag – and a pack of sanitising wipes always comes in handy.

Other ideas? A few buffs if you’re going to be exercising while away, your own snack packs for the flight, a good quality travel pillow – and tons of patience and a sense of humour!

Get insured

Chat to your Travel Manager about the best insurance cover for your trip – now is not the time to wing it.

Check in online

If you can, check in online wherever possible. This includes flights, shuttles and hotel accommodation. It is just another way of reducing COVID touch points.

Manage stress and look after your wellbeing

Business travel has always come with a particular set of stressors. Long flights, jet lag and lack of sleep to name a few. You can guard your immune system by getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet – build this into your trip by considering an extra night at your destination to relax, prioritising exercise while away, eating well, keeping hydrated and practising standard health and safety measures.

Consider bleisure

Bleisure travel, essentially tacking leisure opportunities onto the end (or beginning) of a business trip, is on the rise. Micrometrics reports that 75% of business travellers would like to go on a bleisure trip; 60% of all business trips are now lengthened with ‘bleisure days’; and 87% of bleisure travellers are satisfied with their work-life balance.

Desai believes that bleisure is going to become increasingly important. Not only because travellers are keen to get out and explore again, but because a leisure experience will make travelling under current conditions worth the effort.

Use an app, if you want to

It’s up to you if you’re comfortable about this – President Ramaphosa has asked South Africans to use a Covid-19 tracing app – COVID Alert SA – it’s available on Apple and Android. It uses Bluetooth technology to identify other phones with the app installed and alerts you if you’ve been in close contact with any other user who has tested positive for Coronavirus in the past 14 days.

To help you with your journe, Flight Centre Business Travel has launched the Traveller Information Hub, which contains the latest air, hotel, and border updates from across the globe, an interactive map to help travellers assess their destination’s risk profile and chatbot assistance for any possible questions.

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