As restrictions ease, vigilance on travel is still advised | Business Travel News

When it comes to navigating the maze of international travel requirements and recommendations, one card can often lead to a dead end.

Joe Metallo, global head of travel services and general risk at Argonne Labs, witnessed this firsthand during a trip to Italy. Following advice from the US State Department and his travel management company, he knew that, being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, he was allowed to enter the country. Once there, however, he realized that “fully immunized” meant the most recent dose had been given within six months. He saw an Italian customer on a train who had received a full dose but no booster in the past six months, being escorted and not allowed to board again. He later learned that hotels were also turning away guests who were not up to date with their vaccinations.

“I could imagine a foreign national in that situation, where they were stuck and couldn’t get back on the train,” Metallo said during a recent Business Travel Show America panel. “[You can see] what’s required, but sometimes it’s disjoint between what’s required to get in and what you can do when you’re there.”

Focusing too much on entry conditions and neglecting return conditions is another common mistake, said Spencer Brace, head of growth strategy for meeting location analytics platform Troop. In a recent event, he saw a traveler who had met the requirements to enter a country but did not realize he had a quarantine requirement when he returned home.

Of course, there’s no shortage of resources providing this information to travelers, said Robert Reynolds, chief technology officer for travel management firm Adtrav. Online booking tools provide multiple sources of information, most airlines specify entry requirements and third-party data sources also monitor them, aggregating data from governments and other resources around the world. However, employees may see outdated or conflicting information.

“There are a lot of sources that have popped up, but it’s fluid, and it’s up to the sources to follow,” Reynolds said. “They won’t be perfect.”

As such, manual effort remains “absolutely necessary” to adhere to restrictions, Metallo said, particularly for multinational travel programs with travelers of different nationalities and traveling from different countries of origin. Sometimes travelers end up erring on the side of caution, which means they can take and pay for tests that aren’t necessary.

“I would have preferred to spend the money on a test rather than find myself in a situation where I cannot enter a country and have to be quarantined,” Metallo said.

The confusion is further compounded by the fact that requirements can also change quickly, as Brace saw in a recent event in South Africa that happened days after the country lifted PCR testing requirements. Covid-19 for entry. With the timing tight, travelers were unsure if this news would spread through the travel ecosystem. Even if no testing was required, would staff throughout the journey be aware of the change, or would there be friction? Fortunately, the carrier – Virgin Atlantic – sent a message beforehand alerting the trip to the change, which eased the spirits, Brace said.

Whatever system a company puts in place, the key is to make sure they are aware of the requirements as early in the process as possible, Reynolds said.

“Travelers don’t like to be surprised,” he said. “If there is something the traveler or is required to do, making sure they see it early in the workflow is key.”

As governments lift restrictions, companies create policies

At this point, even though Covid-19 rates continue to rise in some parts of the world, the broader trend, at least in Western countries, continues to loosen, not tighten, restrictions, Tom said. Watson, senior director of operations for International SOS. The aforementioned vaccination requirements in Italy, for example, have since expired. Even so, there remains a gap between guidelines and requirements, with health agencies recommending different levels of caution where travel is permitted. As such, companies set their own policies beyond strict travel requirements.

At Argonne Labs, for example, travelers to countries with Level 3 or 4 State Department advisories — which take into consideration factors other than Covid-19 — should meet with the travel team to get specifics. additional advice in order to travel, Metallo said. Other companies may require pre-departure travel testing, although not mandatory if the traveler is required to be tested for the return trip, to reduce the risk of stranding or stranding. quarantine.

To that end, Covid-19 becomes just part of the overall risk assessment that can be put in place for any trip around the world, Watson said.

Ultimately, however, part of the burden will still have to fall on the individual traveler to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on requirements. But Reynolds said regular communication is key to maintaining traveler confidence.

“It’s about making sure they have multiple sources of information and that it’s as comprehensive as possible,” Reynolds said. “It’s very important that you feel that the organization cares about the process.”

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