. How to Fly Safely When Incentive Travel Returns | Northstar Meetings Group

How to Fly Safely When Incentive Travel Returns

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how business travel is done.

Suzanne Sangiovese will deliver the session "The New Science of Travel" at Incentive Live Digital on July 28, answering your questions live about how the pandemic has transformed business and incentive travel. Register here. 

Once business travel fully returns, including for incentive groups, returns, it will look very different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. It will require new regulations, preparations and concerns for the incentive program manager and the individual business traveller.

Having all but ground to a halt during lockdown, business travel is slowly returning around the world with stay-at-home orders being lifted. As a result, companies are spending time carefully mapping strategies to ensure individuals stay safe at each stage of their travel — from airport check in, during the flight and overnight accommodation once they arrive to their destination. However, that's easier said than done when there's a slew of new regulations to take into account, often varying from one country to another — and even from one state to another. There's now a whole new set of concerns as business professionals prepare to hit the road again after being housebound amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Where do you begin?

Suzanne Sangiovese, commercial and communications director, Riskline
Suzanne Sangiovese, commercial and communications director, Riskline

Since Jan. 1, 2020, our team of analysts at Riskline, located around the world (across 12 countries and nine time zones to be exact) has closely tracked the development of the COVID-19 outbreak and communicated real-time intelligence about virus transmission, travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and re-openings across the globe. 

Here's a preview of what business travel will now look like:

Airports have attempted to implement social-distancing measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. A growing number of airports have deployed workers to manage queues and have used signage and physical barriers to separate passengers. 

Some airports have also implemented various health checks. Temperature scans may be required at various stages of travel, including entry to the airport itself, during check in or security procedures and boarding the aircraft. Contact and/or health questionnaires may be required by local authorities or airlines during booking, check in or after landing.

Our advice? Check in online and use an electronic ticket. Otherwise, use self-service kiosks at the airport to minimise contact with staff. Travelers should check with the departure airport about how far in advance to arrive before a flight. 

Airlines have stepped up sanitation and distancing measures in an attempt to reassure wary passengers. In addition to pre-boarding health checks and mandatory face masks, airlines have begun implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting for aircraft and uniforms, integrating personal protective equipment for flight attendants. 

Our advice? Government regulations and airline rules on the use of masks during flights vary greatly; travelers concerned about unmasked passengers should verify these policies before booking their flight and wear a face mask at all times. Bring spares to change wet or soiled masks and consider replacing disposal medical masks every four to six hours.

With many smaller hotels forced to close due to the pandemic, there are now fewer options for travelers. Well-established hotel chains have introduced enhanced health screening measures for guests and employees, such as mandatory temperature checks at entrances and enforced social distancing measures in all common areas. In addition, facilities such as swimming pools and gyms will likely also remain closed to guests due the difficulty of implementing strict sanitary measures in those locations. 

Our advice? Book your stay with well-established hotel chains and serviced apartment providers that, at minimum, comply with local regulations on cleanliness and social distancing. Avoid under-regulated options where stringent health and safety measures cannot be guaranteed.

The regulations regarding taxis, car rentals, trains and other public transport are also evolving, and travel managers will need to take these into account in their planning. With the correct and up-to-date information at hand, business professionals can now begin to travel and gather safely.

Suzanne Sangiovese is commercial and communications director at Riskline, which provides country and city risk assessments and real-time alert messaging to fulfill duty-of-care requirements before and during travel. She will deliver the session "The New Science of Travel" at Incentive Live Digital on July 28. Register here.