Tips to Keep Business Professionals Safe Post Pandemic
Brian Ferdinand says Cleanliness, Safety & Security Will Be Determining Factors
COVID-19 has halted the travel industry globally as countries grapple with containing the spread of the virus. Brian Ferdinand, the managing partner of SoBeNY and its parent company, CorpHousing Group, says that in an unprecedented move, countries closed their borders to air traffic and shut down airports. The global workforce, many of whom frequently traveled for business purposes, soon found themselves working from home and conducting all business meetings virtually. While the world still struggles with the outbreak, people are starting to look toward the return of corporate travel.
According to a survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in April, 98 percent of its member companies had canceled nearly all international business trips, and 92 percent canceled all domestic travel.
Ferdinand says the domino effect of lost revenue was nearly instantaneous. Not only was the airline industry in jeopardy, so was every travel-related industry and business, including hotels, rental cars, travel agencies, not to mention the losses to local economies that thrived off of travelers – business or personal.
Those results should not come as much of a surprise, given the importance of business travel. The GBTA survey further reported that around 445 million business trips take place each year, valued at $345 billion annually for travel and meeting expenditures. As economies start to slowly re-open, there is still a valid level of concern placed on unnecessary travel, especially given the fear of a second or third wave spike in reported coronavirus cases. However, corporate travel will resume but will not likely be the free-spirited experience of travel that business travelers have come to expect.
Ferdinand points out that domestic business travel is likely to pick up quicker than international as many country’s borders remain closed. The countries that are open for air traffic have indicated they may require 14-day quarantine to all visitors from hotbed locations – the United States being one of them. The other reason for domestic travel is time spent in the air. The less you are around people at the airport or on an airplane, the less chance you have of interacting with other travelers. The longest direct flight you can take in the US is 6.5 hours from Miami to Seattle. Most domestic travel flights average about 3 hours and are much more manageable than the 8+ hour flights to international locations.
To get a better sense of how corporate travel might change due to COVID-19, Ferdinand offers some insights into how the future of business travel will look along with some tips to remain safe.
Airports shouldn’t be the mass congregation of people that it once was, at least not at first. Most companies will restrict travel to the C-suite, or Director level professionals. Unnecessary travel for support staff will be limited, if not canceled altogether for a while. This is done not only to keep employees safe, but many companies are in financial recovery mode from the lockdowns, and travel will be an expenditure that will be closely monitored. Secondly, most seasoned business travelers have some level of elite airline status and participate in expedited security programs that move them through TSA checkpoints quickly. This should reduce your interactions with other travelers dramatically. If you do not participate in an accelerated security program, this is one item I suggest researching.
As travelers plan their trip, it is advisable to look at alternative accommodations other than transient hotels that have been the mainstay while visiting different metropolitan areas. Even though hotels are taking extra precautions and instituting upgraded cleaning regimens, you will still have to expose yourself to high-traffic areas such as hotel lobbies, hallways, elevators, dining rooms, and business centers (to name a few). It is a good idea to look at accommodations that reduce the amount of interaction while keeping comfort, safety, and luxury in mind. Residential rental units offer a much safer option while maintaining safety protocols of the new normal and offer much better amenities. And the cost is virtually the same.
Additionally, many residential rental units are located in some of the most desirable urban areas in nearly every metropolitan market, so your business travel experience will have the same city vibe travelers have come to enjoy. Other benefits include comfort and space. The average hotel room is approximately 200 – 400 square feet (studio apartment) as to where residential rentals are typically 1200 square feet or more. This amount of space provides comforts closer to home with a master bedroom/bathroom, full kitchens, dining rooms, and dens/home office. Amenities come complete with entertainment centers and high-speed Wi-fi that is secure and accessible to you alone – not a hotel hotspot that everybody accesses – and others that you would most likely have in your own home.
Although business travel faces specific challenges and will take a little more time to re-coup, Ferdinand is optimistic about the new options that will be available to the business traveler. Perhaps it is time to merge the adventure of traveling, the excitement of person-to-person business dealings with the comforts of home. Residential rental units are positioned perfectly to offer the returning business traveler with an entirely new experience based on safety, security, and a redefining perspective of comfort.