Unprecedented challenges for business travel

After an explosion in the number of people working from home, the current health crisis is changing the way people travel, presenting a huge challenge for businesses. The search for an ideal compromise between the need to travel and the importance of health and safety precautions raises many new challenges in business travel.

A study published in late 2019 by BCD Travel, about trends in business mobility, reported that “every dollar spent on business travel results in $12.50 in incremental revenue.” That considerable amount of added value is under threat from the health crisis and its subsequent impact on business travel. New practices are already being implemented which will bring about a long-lasting change for mobility, employee meetings, and to organisations as a whole.

Due to employees’ fears, a lack of confidence and the relevant safety precautions, large group transportation such as planes or trains are no longer recommended where alternative solutions are available. According to several experts, freedom of choice for everyone must be at the heart of decision-making more than ever before. Although still in its infancy, a form of “mobility credit” could be a good solution. In contrast to a conventional company car, employees are given either a car-sharing option or a ‘lower-budget’ company car; potentially one with a strong eco-friendly performance. In all cases, there is a credit that can be used for another means of transport chosen by the employee.

The amount of money allocated to the employee’s credit is calculated on the basis of the company car’s TCO (Total cost of ownership). Therefore, the employee can use the mobility credit as they wish. Ubeeqo, a company specialising in car-sharing services, works in partnership with companies that offer mobility credit, taking charge of the management of invoices and reimbursement for the employee.

Moving towards innovative practices

Within the Danone group, more than 10% of employees have already opted for this system. The banking giant Natixis is also considering a similar solution. It consists of allocating an annual amount to an employee for payment of all mobility expenses including transport, accommodation and catering. The objective is also to reduce costs by encouraging employees to opt for remote videoconference meetings when appropriate. It’s a way of managing expenses while maintaining health and wellbeing awareness.

This new business environment also brings new costs. In addition to the essential provision of masks, alcohol-based hand gel and extra equipment for homeworking, additional budgets are required for mobile working. The Covid-19 crisis has led to the development of reflections about legal agreements and sustainability. For example, in France, employers are now encouraged to take on travel expenses of up to €400 per annum for each employee using alternative transport solutions such as bicycles or car-sharing. Longer-term developments such as adapted parking spaces may also be possible.

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