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TRAVEL BUDGETS


CUT IT OUT T


More organisations are imposing travel restrictions for a range of reasons. But how do travel buyers go about enforcing them, and how effective are they?


RAVEL RESTRICTIONS TYPICALLY GO HAND IN HAND with high-stakes political tension. In 2017, US president Donald Trump stirred controversy with his travel ban on Muslim majority countries. The executive order, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018, prevented travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. Then there are the temporary travel bans enforced by governments to protect citizens. In April, such a measure was applied by the


Foreign Office in the wake of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka with the destination swiftly added to its no-go list. In these types of cases, business travel is impacted. In a survey conducted by the GBTA last year on the effects of Trump’s travel ban, for instance, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of US travel buyers said it had driven a reduction in business travel, while 37 per cent expected a decrease going forward. But the fact is, powerless against political strategy or the perils of international conflict, the impact on business travel is nearly always a reactive one. But what about travel bans enforced by companies? Counterintuitive as it might sound at first, it’s a growing trend,


say some experts, with more organisations enforcing temporary restrictions for employees on all but essential travel. Why? Well, awareness of “the toll that travel takes on employees, together with the cost, together with the environmental impact, all add up to a need to see if we can do this in a better, more efficient way”, says Click Travel chief executive Jill Palmer, who says she has “absolutely” seen an increase in companies adopting this strategy.


At the same time the concept has its critics, with many arguing the majority of travel bans are ineffective and unnecessary. So for those companies considering such a move, how might it work? And how can they ensure its impact extends into the longer term?


WORDS MEGAN TATUM 92 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 buyingbusinesstravel.com


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