For all its many stops and starts, 2021 brought with it rapid growth for corporate travel, continued resilience in the face of uncertainty, and robust planning for the future.
While COVID-19 and the emergence of new variants remained at the front and foremost of concerns for businesses, it shifted from the uncertain and reactive responses of the year prior to a strategic and progressive path forward for resuming travel. From resetting expectations with road warriors to tips for returning to the office safely, travel managers prioritized preparing their teams for the new norms ahead while making sure their travel programs were nimble and forward thinking.
As you reflect on the year and ready your business for 2022, review these key insights from our most popular articles of 2021:
International Borders Reopening to Travelers
When borders closed due to COVID-19 in March 2020, few could have predicted for just how long these closures would last. Companies from across the travel industry formed groups to advocate for the reopening of international borders, which finally came in June 2021 as countries across Europe reopened to vaccinated travelers. However, one of the most awaited border reopenings took more patience, with Canada welcoming back U.S. travelers in August and the U.S. following suit in November. Our articles monitoring which countries had reopened—and exploring the corresponding requirements for travelers—consistently ranked among our most widely viewed and shared, demonstrating both the demand for international travel and the importance of providing travelers with timely information.
Traveler Report: Flying Abroad with Delta and Air France
Although travelers were ready for international borders to reopen, they were still uncertain of what to expect. Would new testing and vaccine requirements be challenging to navigate? Would social distancing rules complicate the airport process? Direct Travel’s East Region President Sam DeFranco answered many of these questions for readers, providing an inside look at the new world of international travel on his trip to Paris with Delta and Air France. As part of his journey, Sam documented his experience in photos and shared insights about testing, face coverings, crowd sizes, and the response from locals. His behind-the-scenes account showed that, despite the changes, much of the world was ready to welcome travelers back for business.
What Vaccine Certificates and Health Passports Mean for Travel
One of the most important keys to travel resuming came in the form of increasingly available, highly effective vaccines. Due to the rapid speed at which they were developed and deployed, initial confusion and uncertainty was expected. For travelers, new requirements restricting travel (largely international) to vaccinated individuals meant navigating the language and expectations of health passports and vaccine certificates. Early on in the conversation, we outlined exactly what vaccinated travelers should expect and the ways in which immunization records might be displayed before traveling. The topic demonstrated the need for travelers to stay informed and have access to reliable and trustworthy sources of information.
5 Trends to Watch as Corporate Travel Takes Off
Just as travelers had to adjust to the changes reshaping corporate travel, travel managers found themselves scrambling to adapt their programs and business goals to meet the moment. Our article tackling the latest trends in the booming marketplace explored the topics shaping (and still shaping today) the business travel climate. Issues like sustainability and greener travel programs have joined more traditional topics like trip approval and improved mobile offerings to create a new list of priorities for the future. Review these trends as you go into 2022 and evaluate the areas you may need to revisit and revamp.
Signs of the Travel Rebound Now In Progress
A recurrent theme of 2021 was the search for reassurance and resilience in the face of uncertainty. Although, significant progress has been made since 2020, the surges and subsequent plateaus in both COVID-19 cases and business recovery have made it easy to lose sight of the considerable growth accomplished. Direct Travel has provided progress reports on travel recovery throughout this past year, including our article breaking down the positive indicators of the current travel rebound. Signs like increased vaccination rates, higher travel volumes, and the easing of travel restriction all point to a new road ahead.
While the business world traditionally evaluates performance in terms of sales cycles and fiscal years, the results of 2021 show that the COVID-19 pandemic and travel’s corresponding recovery must be evaluated on a strategic, long-term scale. Undoubtedly, 2022 promises more growth ahead, with a bright New Year offering opportunities to celebrate the progress made and continue building for the future. Reminder if you haven’t already, to subscribe to Direct Travel’s Corporate Travel Newsletter to stay connected to the latest business travel news.