Over summer, the wheels of the leisure travel industry started turning again, both domestically and internationally – many people took staycations in the UK while some ventured overseas. 

As leisure travel has increased, we have seen the use of ground transport rising too – with green shoots for the taxi and private hire industry, in particular. In many areas of the UK, trip volume was back to 50% of what it was pre-lockdown, and this figure increased again during September with the return of children to schools.

But what about business travel?

The world of business travel, however, is proving slower to recover. The majority of employees are still working from home, and meetings which would have involved a flight or a train journey have instead been conducted virtually.

While we don’t know for certain when business travel will resume at scale, it is likely to return in phases, with domestic meetings being the first step. But before this can happen, travel managers and employees alike must feel confident that business travellers are protected.

As a result, health and hygiene factors within companies’ duty of care policies are now even more crucial. Travel managers are closely reviewing and updating their travel programmes and suppliers’ policies to ensure any increased risks of infection whilst travelling are mitigated.

For example, how can they ensure travellers will remain one metre plus from others during their journey? Does the air circulation in the chosen mode of transport meets health guidelines? Are any surfaces the traveller may come into contact with being sanitised regularly? Travel managers need these questions answering before their company can restart their business travel programmes.

A safer taxi journey

Taxi services should be top of mind for travel managers, as one of the safest ways to travel door-to-door post-lockdown. With typically just one passenger and one driver at a fixed distance, taxis are a safer option than public transport, particularly at peak times – and many operators are doing all they can to keep passengers safe by signing up to the Safe Taxi & Private Hire Charter.

In doing so, they pledge to adhere to certain health and safety guidelines, such as regular sanitisation of vehicles, offering passengers cashless payment via an app and installing a screen partition between the driver and passenger.

For travel managers, these extra measures offered by taxi and private hire operators help them to manage the level of risk involved in travel much more effectively.

Employees who usually take a train into the office, for example, might now prefer to opt for a taxi if they feel uncomfortable using public transport. To facilitate this, travel managers could authorise on-demand or pre-booked taxi trips for employees using the iGo Corporate Account Portal – which would also enable them to set trip values and approved routes.

And from a travel management perspective, having a single source to manage taxi bookings and spend can provide certainty to both the company and the passenger. Everything is  covered under a single policy – with the policy beginning from the employees’ door, rather than the office or airport.

An employee who pre-books a taxi from their rural home to a meeting in the city could then order a taxi to take them on to their next meeting or home on-demand, when they’re ready. This single source for taxi management also avoids the risk of an employee potentially hailing an unvetted taxi on the street after their meeting and travelling off policy.

Giving people confidence and reassurance that they can travel safely post-pandemic will be key to restarting business travel programmes and getting the economy up and running again – and this starts with carefully choosing suppliers and making travel management as smooth as possible.

How will you be managing the return to travel and what will you be prioritising? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

#taximanagement #businesstravel #ITMvirtual