Wondering how it feels to go on a business trip these days?

Despite Israel being slower to re-open, there are still a brave few who are traveling abroad. We sat down with some of them to hear about their experiences.

Yoav Rosenberg
August 18, 2020

Reporting on the state of business travel seems to be a daunting task - things really do change quite abruptly and there is incredible variation among various countries and their approaches to travel management. While Europe and Asia start to ease travel restrictions, Israel seems to be slower to re-open. That being said, there are still those persistent road warriors who continue journeying abroad for business. Who are these brave travelers? Where are they traveling? And most importantly, how do they feel compared to business travel pre-Covid? We sat down with business travelers to hear their tales from the road.

It might take much longer to get where you need to go

Very few flights are running as usual and if the flight to your destination isn’t one of them, you can expect to spend some extra time in the sky.

For Joao, a programming instructor, it took 5 flights and over 30 hours to get from Brazil to Portugal, whereas for Noam, an AI consultant, it took just about 48 hours to reach Taiwan from Tel Aviv (a bit more than the 13 hours that the journey usually takes).

Although some companies are getting creative

No flights? No problem.

With irregular commercial flights and a business that requires on-site personnel, Velox decided to take a different route to Budapest--a private jet.

Private flights are becoming more and more popular as demand increases and prices become more affordable. They’re an excellent way to keep your employees safe from other unknown passengers, not rely on the flippant schedules of commercial flights, and last but certainly not least, they are a way of treating your employees amidst a very stressful global pandemic.

Following their journey on the private jet, the Velox employees quarantined in a villa on the outskirts of Budapest for two weeks before getting to work. Not bad, Velox, not bad at all. We keep saying ‘try to make the best out of this situation’. 

What were the business travelers most preoccupied with?

We asked the travelers what they were worried about before traveling and almost all stated they were worried about the health and safety precautions taking place at their destination, as well as the flight itself.

On almost all flights masks were mandatory, although social distancing was another issue.

“The flight to Istanbul from Tel Aviv was completely packed. Everyone was wearing masks but no seats were blocked off and the plane was at full capacity”, mentioned a CEO of a software startup.

Similarly, Joao mentioned that two out of his five flights were absolutely packed, “it’s stressful, you don’t know who you’re sitting next to.”

Amit, a software engineer who flew to London from Tel Aviv, told us that  “Masks were mandatory unless you were eating, but after takeoff it wasn’t really enforced throughout the trip. Luckily, the plane was mostly empty so I was at a safe distance from other passengers anyways.”

And on touch down?

In some places, like Taiwan, Covid-19 is almost a distant memory. Noam, the AI consultant, told us that “the country has almost eradicated the virus, so apart from maintaining strict rules regarding entry/exit of the country, day-to-day life is pretty normal by pre-covid standards.” 

Other places like London and Turkey have loose mask-wearing policies in place. “You need to wear masks in shops and on public transport but not while outdoors or walking down the street.” Amit said about London, while in Turkey “most people wore masks indoors, but not everyone. It didn’t seem to be too strictly enforced.” mentioned another business traveler.

Are you planning on more flights?

“Not at the moment,” mentioned the CEO, “more so than the concerns around health and safety is knowing that an employee will need to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Israel, so we will only agree to it if there is an urgent need.” 

Similarly, the other travelers we spoke to were more worried about quarantining on return to Israel than they were about the safety risks.

“I was initially concerned about catching COVID but after travelling I understand that if both you and the providers you use both take proper precautions, traveling doesn’t have to be worrying to you. On the other hand, who wants to quarantine for 14 days.

Luckily, Israel has just recently announced a list of Green countries from which quarantine would not be required in Israel. Baby steps but we’re moving forward. 

Are you ready to travel?

Every week presents new travel restrictions and easings of those restrictions, new updates on Covid-related regulations within different countries, studies and information on risks associated with travel, etc. What we’ve learned from talking to those traveling in today’s climate is that different companies have different levels of tolerance to risk (of any kind). That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to work with a travel provider who can give you the most up-to-date information in real-time and help you plan according to what you’re comfortable with. 

Do you want to see firsthand how TravelSuit’s travel management platform deals with Duty-of-care and all else? Just click here.

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