The MACROS Driving Our Behaviours
& The Frameworks To Manage Them

“You can do everything remotely, that doesn’t mean you should!” These were the stand-out words of Brian Chesky the CEO of Airbnb at a recent Skift Global Forum. He also shared “Every CFO in the country hasn’t forgotten how much they’ve saved on… travel” (during the pandemic).

What a great summary of the dilemma most organisations find themselves in. We face a pivotal moment in history where going back to pre-Covid ways for some seems unthinkable, yet others are desperate to return to the fast pace, high consumption times of 2019. So, what does this mean for business travel? What do we see?

Permissible Travel

In March 2020 the world stopped. The 1.5bn people who crossed borders in 2019 were stuck at home. For some industries the pandemic decimated their revenues (hospitality for example) and yet other industries became beneficiaries (online retail, delivery services etc…). And whilst construction, Government, energy employees all still needed to travel, closed borders and economies were impacted.  This meant that if they wanted to travel, they may not have been physically able to or indeed no longer had the budget. How are travel programmes and travel managers to manage for this?

Enter Permissible Travel.  FESTIVE ROAD created this framework to support any organisation around the world to think through their immediate travel needs through 3 lenses:

  1. Organisation allowable, is this trip needed to keep the company/site/country running?
  2. Government permissible, are borders open? And on what basis?
  3. Employee agreeable, is the employee willing to travel?

More than 10,000 companies have accessed the framework to date, and we have heard from a variety of companies, charities, and government offices around the world, sharing how they’ve used the framework to great effect. Great, but what now?

From Permissible to Purposeful?

Increasing vaccination rates are enabling borders to slowly and hesitantly re-open. But a permissible approach remains necessary for travel management operations as travel starts to open up whilst there’s still the combined impact of the pandemic and economic variables.   But we hear Executives grappling with what the impact could be if the floodgates are opened.  How far do they want to let those business travel floodgates open?

We see a spectrum of sentiment, from the “we’ve managed this long without travel so no need to go back” to “our business has been damaged by not being together in person, we need to get back out there quick” and everything in-between.  The issue we see is most of this debate is based on a want vs need.  It’s all personal.  What individuals want to do shouldn’t be how travel consumption is decided, be it financial or carbon based.  Instead, it should be what travel is needed to drive an organisation’s success? Overlay this with the changing work patterns/locations and we have an absolute moment in time to either drive forwards or fall backwards.

We encourage everyone to now focus on the “why” of being there in person, in addition to the what & how (what airline you will take, how you will book etc…).

To support this internal dialogue FESTIVE ROAD created the Purposeful Travel Model to take you on this journey.  It may be the most important travel management journey you take.  So, make it a purposeful one.

Caroline Strachan, FESTIVE ROAD, UK