Last week, Digiday interviewed me on the state of business travel. Due to the travel lag post Covid-19, business travel has significantly suffered — but it’s not totally dead. Hundreds of road warriors are still traveling the country for business-related events and meetings, and they’re thankfully being safe and smart about it — though the rules for business travelers have changed.
Business travel is considered travel related to work, but if you’re a business traveler, you know it’s also a lifestyle. A fun one.
As business travelers, we enter a whole other world that’s somewhat esoteric. We speak a different language non-business travelers don’t understand, and we adapt to this lifestyle in ways that make our little group thrive. Travel brands and companies build platforms, incentives and programs around us because we’re the ones who care about them. For instance, we obsess over frequent flier programs and strive to qualify for the highest tiers in an airlines program (and there’s plenty of people who religiously geek out on airline points and miles blogs), so airlines keep their plans competitive to cater to us.
We also keep tabs on hotel loyalty programs and love to share our experiences. There’s a certain kind of satisfaction for us business travelers when we successfully use our knowledge and miles to get a business class upgrade, or our strategic loyalty to a hotel gets us a suite on a business trip.
The business traveler lifestyle goes beyond hotel and airline awards programs. We’re constantly meeting new faces in business meetings, taking clients out in hot spots, and getting to finally give the presentation we spent weeks on rehearsing. This gives us a thrill that’s infectious, making us eager to plan our next trips. Naturally, accumulating points on credit cards, airline loyalty programs and hotel stays drives conversations among us, and there’s nothing cooler than being able to carve out time from your work trip to explore a destination. That’s the beauty of a business traveler lifestyle: you get the best of both worlds (work and play).
While business travel has slowed down for the time being, business traveler road warriors keep the lifestyle alive, and they’re seeing dramatic changes. If you’re a die-hard business traveler who’s ready to get back in the game, be sure to be safe when you travel, and just so you’re not surprised when you hit the road, don’t forget these 3 new rules for business travelers right now.
3 new rules for business travelers post Covid-19
-Travel requires more planning and research now, including mask requirements. If you’re hitting the road, you have to consider how you approach masking and unmasking with clients to gauge whether they are or are not comfortable. Do you unmask if the client is unmasked even if they’re uncomfortable? A lot of this likely hinges on the moment, but remember that wherever you go, you should know Covid-19 restrictions, how serious any rise in cases is in the destination you’re going to, and how the people you meet will respond to masks in meetings.
That said, pack your mask, do your research and elevate your game when you meet clients. This new rule is actually great because it takes our business approach to a whole new level of respect for a client and destination we’re traveling to.
Don’t forget, masks are required at airports, hotels and flights.
-Car rentals will be expensive due to the shortage – budget accordingly. Logistically, car transport isn’t what we were used to pre Covid-19. Rental fleets were sold, so there’s practically no cars to rent, and if they are, you can expect to pay almost double what you did pre Covid-19.
Be prepared to spend a lot more on car rentals, and let your managers know that this is going to be a new change to business travel for the time being. Budget accordingly. If there’s serious shortage in the destination you’re going to, try other alternatives, like Zipcar.
In many destinations, you can now rent cars with Lyft, and car dealerships are known to rent out their fleet.
-Hotels have changed for business travelers — be prepared. The hotel brand you loved for their fresh made hotel breakfast now likely offers a vending machine-grade muffin and a bottle of water. This is because a lot of hotels have increased safety, and there is also the labor shortage.
Ultimately, since hotels were hit hard by the pandemic, they’re still recovering, meaning you might not get the bells and whistles you received for service in the past. A good example is a hotel I recently checked into in March 2021. The five-star hotel usually has backbending service, a bevvy of staff greeting you, and a host of other warm and pleasant amenities for any guest arriving. However, when I checked in, only one person greeted me from a distance, and I did my check in in my hotel room.
The travel industry is taking time to recover, so be patient… and continue to support business travel safely!
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