If you’ve ever felt stressed or anxious about business travel, you’re not alone. In fact, experts have come up with a new term to describe this very common phenomenon – Permanxiety.
Coined in 2017 by global travel industry platform Skift, permanxiety refers to a permanent state of anxiety widely experienced across the world. An almost collective sense of dread around anything from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, climate change, political uncertainty, financial concerns, crime and personal safety.
Travel has a unique way of amplifying one’s anxiety. The Global Business Travel Association reports that flight delays, lost luggage, language barriers, technology failure (for example, being unable to set up devices or get connected) and personal safety (including accidents and injury) are just some of the concerns facing business travellers.
Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller, identified five of the top ‘stress triggers’ for corporate travellers – and helps with ways to overcome them.
1.Travel admin – and curveballs
More and more business travellers are turning to tech when making their travel bookings. Interestingly, however, while the majority of business travellers enjoy the ease and convenience of modern booking tools, a 2019 SAP Concur study found that a surprising number of business travellers are still going out of their way to get a direct human connection – with more than a quarter of business travellers indicating that they would rather rebook cancelled travel arrangements over the phone than online.
Desai is not surprised. “While making the initial flight, accommodation and transport bookings might be quick and easy, it actually takes a considerable amount of time to cancel and rebook flights and adjust one’s entire itinerary (including shuttles and accommodation) when plans change. Unfortunately curveballs are a reality with business travel – and more and more travellers would like a ‘human’ on the other end of the phone to unravel bookings and mitigate the knock-on effect of a rescheduled meeting, delayed flight or unexpected event.”
This is where reputable travel management companies (TMCs) really come into their own. Find one which offers hassle-free, online, end-to-end booking – with travel professionals who are in your corner to offer the best advice (and speedy, personal intervention) when things go wrong.
2. Airport Anxiety
Airport anxiety is an unfortunate reality, with concerns about flight delays, lack of sleep, jet lag and fear of flying keeping many a traveller up at night.
And while it is hard to ease some of the ‘pain points,’ for example, queues at customs and immigration, there are ways to ensure your airport experience is a lot more bearable. Chat to your TMC about airport lounge access (an ancillary service provided by many TMCs), which will allow you to pass the time in comfort.
Many airlines also offer priority boarding at a nominal fee, meaning you can board, find your seat and stow your carry-on bag quickly and easily. This might seem like an unnecessary expense, but even securing space for your hand luggage in the cabin close to your seat can ease a little airport anxiety.
This year, Corporate Traveller introduced a handy chatbot called Sam:] to keep travellers informed and reduce their anxiety. Sam:] is programmed to keep travellers updated at all times, from weather updates at the destination, to information on the traveller’s departure gate, flight time changes and where to collect baggage.
3. Fear of the Unknown
Often business travellers will arrive in a new city feeling a little unsure and out of place (which is further compounded if it’s considered a ‘high-risk destination’). Chat to your TMC about recommending safe and convenient accommodation (either close to the airport or central to your business meeting/conference needs), organising car hire or transfers – even arranging a meet and greet at the airport for added peace of mind.
In this scenario, travel apps such as Sam:] can be extremely useful as they can help travellers navigate an unfamiliar city. Wherever you are travelling, Sam:] will provide you with a useful city guide complete with practical information and advice on anything from typical prices and exchange rates, tipping customs, weather alerts, maps and information on popular tourist attractions.
4. Work Pressure
Meeting new people, jitters before difficult presentations or pressure around securing new business can all add to the stress of business travel. But it doesn’t end there. The SAP Concur study reveals that as many as 1 in 3 business travellers are most stressed after a business trip, saying that post-trip admin (including catching up on emails and filing expense reports) is the most stressful part of any trip.
Finding a travel management partner with convenient cost/expense management tools will go a long way to ease this stress, ensuring that travel expenses are reconciled and reimbursed quickly and easily and that employees are not left stressed and out of pocket!
Of course you can always postpone the nightmare of post-trip admin by combining business with leisure. It’s no surprise that ‘bleisure’ travel is booming. Bleisure allows travellers to explore the world, make the most of their long-distance travel, enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation and hopefully return to work refreshed and ready to tackle their next challenge.
5. Personal Safety
Safety remains top of mind for business travellers across the globe. Travellers are looking for maximum booking flexibility in their online tools, not only for convenience, but also so they can change their plans if they feel unsafe, unwell or uncomfortable. Sadly the SAP Concur report shows that at least 58% of travellers have changed their accommodation at some point because they felt unsafe.
Again, look for an integrated, comprehensive travel tool that meets all your needs, including safety alerts, location-sharing functionality, flexibility and trusted advice in times of need.
Travel insurance is becoming increasingly important as we head into 2020. Rather than treating travel insurance as an afterthought, interrogate your options, ensuring that you are effectively covered in the event of an accident, illness or unplanned event.
Desai agrees: “In 2020 TMCs are going to have to offer their clients so much more than convenience and competitive rates. We’ll have to meet all our client’s needs, including comprehensive travel insurance, sound advice and 24-hour live support.”
SAP Concur has predicted that business travel is not about to get any easier as we move into 2020. The good news is that with the right travel partner, knowledgeable support, clever tech and a few nifty hacks, permanxiety can be avoided.