If the past 25 years taught us anything, it’s that we’re in this together.

To our clients, partners and colleagues around the world, we hope that you remain safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. Like you, we’re concerned about our people, suppliers and our customers as only together can we get through this difficult period.

The team at TCG Consulting has been through 9/11, SARS, MERS, and countless wars and other events throughout the world and we’ve learned a lot. For those of you who lead travel, meetings, payment and/or expense initiatives at your company, we know that broad T&E is often the first sector “into the crisis” and often one of the last ones “out of the crisis” when the dust finally settles.

Let’s apply what we’ve learned from this crisis

To those who have pulled out and applied your contingency plans, I’d like to take a moment to commend you for keeping your travelers safe and helping your businesses. For those still working to get everyone home and keep their business viable, I want to share some insights that we’ve learned over the years. These insights include planning for the eventual “new normal” when this crisis is over.

Assess technology, and explore new ways to track your travelers

With the available AI and the ability to track your travelers with the click of a button, be sure to research best practices for knowing where every associate around the world is at any given moment and how to bring everyone home safely while protecting other company assets. Also look for apps and other tools that help travelers receive instant alerts if they are in a dangerous area.

Develop a quick return plan

For those who manage travelers constantly on the move, be sure you know how to properly request their return back to their home base. This includes not only helping your teams understand the regulations and procedures for returning home, but also the platform you wish your teams to use for their trips. For example, if your team is required to use an agency or book channel, make sure that in a crisis, these are readily available and managed to help your teams return home quickly. The more insight you can have into your travelers and where they are (car, hotel, rail, etc.), the safer and more organized your crisis is handled.

Look at the Total Cost of Ownership for T&E, even during a travel freeze

You likely have your T&E budget substantially reduced due to global travel restrictions. While some savings will be realized, don’t forget to properly identify the additional costs surrounding travel that can also be reduced in order to plan properly for future budgets. For example, additional costs can include things like the costs of T&E auditors on your team, who may now be idle due to significantly lowered reimbursement cases. Companies who are aware of their TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for T&E will be able to plan better for the future and ensure that they can capture savings not just on travel, but on all costs.

What do we do now?

This isn’t the first crisis TCG Consulting has weathered and it won’t be the last. We’re here to help in any way that we can, and our team is ready to work with your travel team, financial team and procurement team anytime you need help. For now, here are three things we recommend you begin to plan for, as this crisis hopefully reaches its peak:

Prepare for your “post-crisis” travel ramp-up

Our experience tells us travel ramp-up will likely occur in phases. Our benchmarks provide that 34% of trips generate revenue. As the COVID-19 crisis dwindles, and travelers begin to move around the globe again, the first trips will focus on revenue, including visiting customers, prospects and completing trips critical for company operations and supply chain. Make sure you build phases for your travel initiatives, starting with revenue-generating and critical operation trips and then slowly increasing to support trips to lessen the cost implications. Also, don’t be surprised if Asia air routes open first.

Assess your travel suppliers

Watch your travel suppliers carefully, as many of them are among the hardest hit during this crisis. Many will seek bailouts and, unfortunately, some airlines and other suppliers won’t survive this crisis. As travel and expenses return to a new normal, take quality time to re-evaluate your supply base and your agreements to ensure you have a system filled with healthy suppliers who have made it through the year triumphantly and who still fit your travel requirements.

Take account of rebates and credits

Don’t forget to take advantage of the slew of canceled tickets and credits for meetings, hotels and airlines that will quickly arrive from your travelers canceled events and trips! Be sure you have a plan to account for for these returns and a strategy to re-use and re-apply the credits once travel ramps back up.

If you need anything, our team is happy to offer support

We’re in this together, and we want to help. If your team is in need of support for your travel program during this crisis, or you want to build a restart and future contingency plan for the future, our team is happy to explore ways we can serve you and your organization.

If you wish to talk, you are welcome to reach out to me personally and either I or a member of the TCG will reach out to you as soon as we can. We’re in this together.

Albert Taras, President
TCG Consulting