Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, business travellers are prioritising personal safety over business needs by a large margin, which can be reduced if firms could excuse employees from non-essential travel, and take better care of them while they are on the road, a SAP Concur study shows.
Done in May-June 2020, the research covered 4,850 business travellers in 23 global markets, including 1,750 respondents in Asia Pacific.
Findings show that COVID-19 has supercharged health and safety concerns, creating added stress over business travel in APAC, Nearly half of APAC business travellers (48%, compared to 45% globally) now say they experience the most stress during the trip, rather than before (21%) or after the trip (31%).
When the same study was conducted in July – Aug last year, only 31% of APAC travellers cited the trip itself as the most stressful stage of travel.
With the pandemic dominating news headlines, more than two in every five respondents say their health and safety is their top priority while travelling for business (42%, compared to 38% globally). This is more than twice the number of respondents who regard business needs (17%) as their top priority.
Given such stress levels, it stands to reason that 91% of APAC business travellers feel concerned about resuming travel. They are especially worried getting sick themselves (55%) or infecting their family (51%).
Also, organisations in APAC must prepare to meet emerging traveller expectations. When business travel resumes, almost all (97%) APAC business travellers will consider some measures critical for safely returning to the road. These include mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (45%), limiting travel to only the most critical trips (39%), and easier access to personal protective equipment (37%).
“Organisations should update their travel policies and create a mechanism to clearly define essential travel – not just from the corporate standpoint but also taking into account government regulations and employees’ appetite for travel,” said Carl Jones, SAP Concur VP and head of travel for APAC and Greater China.
When a trip does need to take place, companies should have a way to ensure that employees only use approved and safe airlines and hotels; that they can receive information on changing ground situations that impact their health and safety; and that the company can reach out to them and render assistance 24/7.