The last holdouts from the era of pandemic-related border restrictions may have lifted, but preparing for international travel remains more important than ever. Inconvenient travel delays and last-minute changes are inevitable as the industry continues to cope with increasing demand within the leisure, corporate, and crossover markets.
Industry experts predict that global travel will reach new heights this year due to a surge in non-traditional trips. For example, travel managers noticed a 41% increase in bleisure trips in Q4 of 2022, with more travelers continuing to combine leisure experiences with business. After several years of event restrictions, employees are also seeking remote destinations for major sales meetings, conferences, and retreats. In fact, over half of employees say employers should use resources derived from remote work savings to finance company retreats farther flung from the corporate hub.
With a 30% increase in travel expected this year, business travelers need to be ready for a myriad of possibilities, such as flight cancellations, delays, and overbookings. To help you prepare your travelers for the busy season ahead, we've compiled a list of expert advice you can share within your organization.
Renew Your Passport Early
In another sign of the travel surge ahead, passport applications are on track to break records this year. This has resulted in processing delays as well as a pause by the U.S State Department of its new online renewal platform. While a wide-scale relaunch of the online application is expected later this year, passport holders must renew via mail in the interim, further lengthening the process.
Travelers should also double-check their passport expiration dates, as many countries require a passport to be valid for six months. To avoid this, apply nine months prior to expiration to allow for current processing delays, shipping time, and entry requirements.
Join a Trusted Traveler Program
Not making a flight due to extended security lines can result in missed meetings and disruption to key business goals. Depending on the class of fare booked, it can also impact T&E with unexpected rebooking fees. Joining a trusted traveler program can help mitigate this risk and streamline the travel experience. Plus, memberships last for five years and offer convenient benefits.
- TSA PreCheck allows for expedited screenings at more than 200 select U.S. airports. Members of the program get to use dedicated security lanes and avoid having to remove shoes, belts, and light jackets, as well as liquids and laptops from their carry-on bags.
- Global Entry is offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to expedite clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Global Entry members can use automated kiosks to bypass traditional customs and passport control lines, which can save time and hassle. Notably, Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck benefits.
- Nexus is jointly offered by the CBP and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and provides expedited processing for pre-screened travelers at designated air, land, and marine ports of entry. Nexus members are able to use dedicated lanes and kiosks to cross the U.S.-Canada border more quickly and easily.
In addition to trusted traveler programs, Clear is now available in 50+ U.S. airports and utilizes biometric technology to verify a traveler's identity, allowing them to skip standard security lines. While memberships carry a steeper price tag and only last for a year, Clear takes travelers quickly to the front of the line.
Get the MPC App
Gone are the days of filling out paper customs forms and waiting in line to do so. Instead, swift and seamless re-entry into the U.S. is possible with the MPC (Mobile Passport Control) app.
This helpful digital tool from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency helps assist international travelers move more efficiently through customs checkpoints when returning from an international trip. There is no added cost, and it’s even recommended if you already have a Global Entry membership. Download the app to use it at 33 U.S. airports as well as 4 domestic cruise ports and 9 preclearance locations.
Do Your Research
Information is power, and planning ahead can help reduce stress. With so many travelers returning abroad this summer, it’s vital to conduct targeted research as you plan your business travel or look to extend your work trip into a leisure experience. In a post-COVID environment, restaurants, team-building activities, and off-site meetings all may require advance booking to avoid crowds.
Your trusted travel partner can help lighten this load with timely information and itinerary details synced directly to your phone. At Direct Travel, our Direct2U mobile app serves as a mobile sidekick for travelers, storing important information and keeping you updated on the go. In addition to itinerary details, the tool provides destination guides, weather reports, and delivers real-time intelligence while abroad.
Although returning to international travel this year may involve a few hurdles, you can alleviate many of these by preparing in advance alongside your travel partner. Working with Direct Travel, you can be confident our team has you covered every step of the way. Our most important goal is to prepare you for a successful journey with personalized services and the best technology possible to facilitate a streamlined travel experience.