The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Travel Risk Management

By: Ray Rackham

February 16, 2024  

This article is part of a series of resources focusing on Travel Risk Management, including blogposts, e-books, webinars, and podcasts. These resources have been created by CIBT in association with GBTA, following the publication of a December 2023 study entitled Travel Risk Management (TRM) in a Post-COVID World. Download the full report here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant disruptor, reshaping the landscape of corporate travel and, by extension, the practices of Travel Risk Management (TRM). The report 'TRM in a Post-COVID World' provides a comprehensive view of the changing priorities and challenges in TRM due to the pandemic.  

Heightened importance of TRM 

The onset of the pandemic brought an unprecedented focus on TRM, with companies across the globe scrambling to manage the risks associated with international travel during a global health crisis. Key findings from the report indicate: 

Increased prioritization 

TRM has become a more pronounced priority for organizations post-COVID. The report highlights that 52% of travel managers recognize TRM as a greater priority now, compared to pre-pandemic times. 

The emphasis on TRM has been particularly notable in large corporations, where a significant majority (69%) acknowledge TRM as a higher priority post-pandemic. 

Resource allocation 

Despite the increased prioritization, TRM budgets have not seen a corresponding increase across the board. The report notes that TRM budgets largely remain flat, with only one-third of travel managers reporting an increase in TRM-related expenditure post-COVID. 

The investment in TRM post-COVID seems to be more in terms of stakeholder hours rather than financial resources, indicating a shift in how companies are choosing to allocate their resources towards managing travel risks. 

Challenges in passport and visa processing 

One of the critical areas in TRM is the processing of passports and visas, a domain that continues to be fraught with challenges: 

  • A mere 18% of travel managers believe their companies do a better job obtaining passports and visas post-COVID than they did before the pandemic. 

  • Similarly, only 22% feel their companies have improved in ensuring passport/visa compliance. 

  • These statistics underscore the need for a more streamlined and efficient approach to managing travel documentation in the post-COVID era. 

Blended travel and policy implications 

The pandemic has also given rise to the trend of 'blended' or 'bleisure' travel, where employees combine business trips with leisure. This evolving trend presents its own set of challenges and risks. 

While many travel policies (54%) allow or do not explicitly address blended travel, this practice introduces complexities in understanding the boundaries between business and leisure, potentially complicating issues like liability and insurance. 

The report emphasizes the importance of TRM programs addressing these new trends and incorporating them into their risk assessment and management strategies. 

Reassessment and realignment led to increased prioritization

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably amplified the focus on TRM, pushing organizations to reassess and realign their strategies to the new normal. While the prioritization of TRM has seen a significant uptick, the allocation of resources, particularly in budgetary terms, has not matched this increase, indicating a shift towards optimizing internal workflows and stakeholder involvement.  

Additionally, challenges in critical areas like passport and visa processing, coupled with the emergence of blended travel, highlight the need for robust, adaptive, and comprehensive TRM strategies. As the landscape of corporate travel continues to evolve post-pandemic, the importance of an effective TRM program cannot be overstated. It's a crucial aspect that organizations must continually adapt and refine to navigate the complexities of travel in a post-COVID world effectively. 

Travel well-informed with CIBTvisas 

An experienced visa specialist can help you navigate the complexities of border crossing requirements. Contact CIBTvisas for a quote today.

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