The Travel Industry Is Battered, But That Hasn't Stopped It From Helping Out
There is a growing list of charitable efforts around the industry to help frontline workers and those in financial distress. In just the past few weeks, various parties announced new programs, including one from the world of corporate travel.
American Airlines said professional services giant Deloitte donated credits from canceled flights to help fund an AA cargo-only flight transporting medical gowns from Shanghai to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
In the lodging industry, several providers are helping to house first responders and healthcare workers. Egencia's Helping Healthcare program includes three months of free travel management services for healthcare providers and access to special discounted hotel rates. It is running in 25 countries. The American Hotel & Lodging Association and Google, meanwhile, teamed to help hotel owners promote special accommodations for frontline or essential workers. AHLA previously announced the Hospitality for Hope initiative, through which more than 17,000 properties volunteered to meet special housing needs.
Hilton and American Express partnered to donate up to 1 million hotel room nights to medical personnel "on the frontlines fighting Covid-19." Amex also announced a $1 million contribution to World Central Kitchen, which prepares meals for frontline workers staying at Hilton properties. With Amex's support, World Central Kitchen also is working with local restaurants to get involved in meal prep and help hire back staff. More info here .
American Express also organizes the Stand for Small coalition . The program gives small U.S. businesses various services, tools and expertise. SAP Concur joined and is contributing complimentary 30-day access to its Expense and Invoice products.
Travel Leaders Corporate redeployed some of its corporate travel advisors to help New York State schedule Covid-19 testing. By the end of April, more than 120 of them were handling phone calls and emails from residents who had coronavirus-related symptoms.
It's business as usual across all divisions at Hertz despite a bankruptcy filing. That's according to Hertz Global Holdings, which cited Covid-19 and an uncertain used car market for the Chapter 11 proceedings. A financial reorganization, according to the company, will best position it for "what could be a prolonged travel and overall global economic recovery." The filing does not include franchised locations or operations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
STR expects a minimal rebound in U.S. average daily hotel rate in 2021, recovering less than 2 percent from the projection for 2020. In the lodging data firm's latest forecast, ADR falls by 22 percent this year to $103, which would be the lowest annual figure since 2010, and inches up to $105 next year. "ADR recovery is never V-shaped," said SVP Jan Frietag during an STR video update. That helps explain why some corporate buyers are unwilling to extend current negotiated rates to 2021.
More airlines announced safety and cleanliness programs. United is working with Clorox on disinfection and medical experts from Cleveland Clinic on "new technologies, training development and quality assurance programming." The airline plans to conduct by June electrostatic spraying in passenger cabins before every flight. JetBlue extended through at least July 6 its policy to block middle seats in rows where parties are not traveling together. It, too, plans electrostatic aircraft fogging starting in June.
Several corporate booking tools now display "Covid-19-related airline service features." That includes Australia-based Corporate Travel Management's Lightning online booking tool. It brings in the information from ATPCO’s Routehappy, which collects data from more than 100 airlines, including American, Delta and United. Attributes relate to airport and cabin cleaning, health screening, inflight hygiene and booking flexibility. According to The Beat, other systems providing that info via ATPCO at corporate travel points of sale are TripActions, Serko's Zeno, PSNGR1 and the Sabre Red 360 agent desktop.
Gant Travel and TripActions separately built unused airline credit functions. Gant is offering self-service access to its FlightCreditMiner platform for "any company," including non-clients. The system determines credit values for all unused tickets and applies correct airline waiver codes "regardless of [a company's] TMC or how they got their unused ticket," according to Gant. "We created a simple means to deliver real-time waiver information for any corporation’s unused tickets by uploading a simple spreadsheet into our portal." At TripActions, reporting for admins now shows which canceled or unused tickets have waiver credit, including those in the names of employees no longer at the client company. Travelers are reminded of unused credit when shopping, and TripActions automatically applies it at the point of sale.
EasyJet announced plans to restart flying on June 15. The schedule will include mainly domestic flights departing from 21 European airports.
Oversight Systems reported three consecutive week-to-week increases in airline spending among clients. For the week ending April 13, air expenditures increased 147 percent from the prior week. Subsequent weeks saw a 53 percent and then a 2 percent sequential increase. "Because airline spend is a harbinger of travel activity, this is a very early indicator that T&E spend could be rebounding," according to the spend management firm.
HRS is arranging day use of hotel rooms. According to the corporate lodging specialist, many such options have been made available at certain downtown and airport properties. Through its MeWork program, now available globally after an initial rollout in Germany, travelers book through an online link provided by HRS. The company considers properties with enhanced safety and hygiene protocols and business services like high-speed WiFi and printing. Properties offer their usual nightly rates but make them valid morning to evening. HRS said it adds no fees. Corporations do not need to be HRS clients to participate.
Compiled by the editors of TheCompanyDime.com