Your questions answered! Lessons learned from COVID-19


A big thank you to everyone who registered for our webinar on the lessons learned from COVID-19 and what the new normal will look like.

If you missed the webinar the first time you can watch on demand HERE. 

This webinar saw the leadership team of New Zealand and Australia’s largest business travel management company - Flight Centre Travel Group Corporate, share the latest industry and customer insights and learnings during this unprecedented and challenging time.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a question in advance. Due to time constraints we weren’t able to answer them all, but we’ve pulled the key themes from the hundreds of questions we received below.

Some of the questions we can't answer just yet due to the fast-changing landscape we are in right now, however where we can offer advice we are, and we will continue to do this through our webinars, guides and articles. Our primary focus right now is to start to prepare you and your business for when the skies open up for travel again!

Keen for more? Don’t miss our next webinar on Thursday 28 May at 11am AEST, where Felicity Burke, GM 4D Business Consulting, will bring together prominent industry partners and associations to discuss how each sector of the travel industry is preparing for a bounce-back post-COVID-19. Details on how to register will be released shortly.

What’s the biggest learning from COVID-19?

As much as you can have plans in place to deal with disruption to your business, we would hazard a guess that the sheer scale of the impact of COVID-19 was not in mind when formulating those plans!

That said, our ability to react and adapt with agility has been key in dealing with a situation that changed daily. Here’s a summary of our major learnings:

  1. Having a business continuity plan in place and communicating it is important, but testing it is essential. We were able to enact our BCP relatively quickly to enable our people to work efficiently from home as they did from the office. It was done, with little or no disruption to our clients, however, there are some technical challenges which would have been highlighted if the BCP had been tested during ‘normal’ times.
  2. Our strong company culture has been the backbone of our COVID-19 response. It’s enabled us to have transparent and regular communications with our people, especially around tough decisions like stand downs. Our teams have rallied together to help one another, especially to support our people who have been stood down.
  3. The ability to respond quickly with the right information is critical. Our clients and prospects were looking for quick and clear advice as the COVID-19 situation unfolded. We were able to respond quickly and with agility through our online COVID-19 information hub, and this has resulted in some of the highest engagement rates with our website we’ve ever seen.


When will travel open up?

As much as we’d love to be able to provide a clearly defined ‘start-up’ date, this is in the hands of Governments around the world and will also be determined by travel providers, airports and other infrastructure services. Everyone will need to work together to provide reassurance that measures have been taken to give confidence in relation to health and safety of employees and travellers alike.

We are constantly engaging with our key travel suppliers so that we can keep our customers updated on the changing landscape.

What’s important now is to not wait until the skies and borders open to start thinking about your travel program again.  Now is the time to review policies and procedures, to assess technology, to put new processes in place for duty of care and to create a travel eco-system that supports the needs of both your business and your travellers. This is where the ‘management’ of travel happens and you should be calling on your TMC to guide you through the review process.


Health and safety in the ‘new normal’

The corporate travel supply chain has already had to react with new measures to keep travellers as safe as possible throughout their entire journey.

  • Airlines have adopted social distancing measures and are looking at different ways to manage food and beverage.
  • Accommodation providers have introduced new cleaning and hygiene practices and it is expected these will become permanent.

Our business travel consulting partner, 4D Business Consulting,  is currently undertaking a global study involving both independent and chain accommodation providers and the results of this will include the future of health and hygiene. We will be sharing these results with you soon.

There is a lot of discussion at the moment about the possibility of new biosecurity measures at airports, health passports and it remains to be seen what will actually be implemented however we will ensure that our clients are kept updated of any developments on this front.

Traveller anxiety will be a reality for many and we are in partnership with a number of mental health support groups and experts to gather and provide information to our clients on managing these concerns with travellers. It’s important to remember that health risks are not new for travellers and these aren’t necessarily limited to third world countries - the risk is real wherever you travel in the world.


Fares and rates

We received a lot of questions regarding whether costs will increase or decrease as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and we don’t believe there is one generic answer to this question.

Supply and demand generally dictates pricing and right now it’s a challenge to definitively know what either of these will be.

There are two pieces of research we are conducting right now with our partners 4D Business Consulting which may provide some insight into this question. As these results are analysed, we will share the findings with you.

The core travel program principles of benchmarking and negotiation remain your greatest tools for achieving the right pricing for the right products within your travel program. This is where your Account Manager and specialists like 4D can assist you right now.


Credits, cancellations and loyalty programs

There was also an overwhelming number of questions in regard to credits, bookings and loyalty programs, particularly in relation to Virgin Australia’s voluntary administration.

For obvious reasons this is a moveable feast, and your first port of call if you have a question should be your Account Manager. We’re also working with our product teams and our supplier partners to compile a simplified summary of the state of play regarding these subjects.

Understanding that the policies can change weekly if not more frequently, we will be publishing a guide for our customers. This guide will be a simple summary, with links to the definitive terms and conditions on supplier websites.


Don't forget, you can watch the Lessons Learned from COVID-19 webinar HERE.