With travel restrictions easing in some parts of the world, some business travelers may be itching to get back on the road after months of confinement. But before they actually will be ready to step foot on a plane or train or spend the night at a hotel, both corporate travelers and those at the company responsible for their well-being must feel fully comfortable with the decision.
Understanding the significant role travel intelligence will have in helping travelers and travel managers make informed decisions so they can confidently and safely resume their business travel activities, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has launched a travel briefing platform called Travel Vitals™. The dynamic web-based tool provides clients and travelers with pertinent information related to COVID-19 so they can assess the risks and make adequate preparations before, during, and after booking a trip.
Instead of having to scour the web and cobble together data from various resources that may not be so reliable, Travel Vitals lets travelers obtain vetted information on various components of a trip and have questions related to quarantine measures, mask requirements, travel changes, and suppliers’ safety protocols answered in a matter of seconds.
How to get started
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Paris from Frankfurt but want to do some research before making a commitment. Using Travel Vitals’ search tool, you can add one by one the different components of the planned itinerary, such as the country, airport, airline, rail carrier, hotel, and ground transportation provider. Once you’ve entered all the elements, you click “Search” and – voilà – all the information for the different segments appears on a single results page, grouped by category.
When at the planning phase, we recommend first reviewing the country information to see if there are any entry/exit restrictions that may impede travel from your point of origin. According to information pulled from Travel Vitals on Oct 2, 2020, France does not have restrictions for travelers arriving from the European Union and about 20 other countries, but does require visitors from many other locations, including the U.S., to either undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival or present a negative COVID test before departure. So in this scenario, a three-day business trip from Frankfurt is feasible, but it might not make sense if you were coming from San Francisco.
Under France’s summary, you can also see its COVID-19 risk level (high), the current hot spots (Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Paris), and if there are any flight suspensions (no).
Next, you may look at the air carrier information to see if there are any changes that could impact your flight experience. Let’s say you’re traveling with Air France. Through Travel Vitals, we can see that the carrier has a reduced flight schedule until Oct. 24, 2020, it’s gradually resuming its regular meal and beverage service (but you still may want to bring your own), that it has introduced a fully flexible cancellation policy, and that you’ll be required to wear a mask on the plane. There’s also about a dozen safety and cleaning measures listed that Air France is taking.
Once the flight has been figured out, you can check out the hotel details. Let’s say you’re staying at a Hilton. On Travel Vitals, you can see how it is protecting guests through its CleanStay program, that it is offering free changes and cancellations on reservations, and that it is extending its loyal customers’ 2020 member status through March 31, 2022.
Delivering trip-specific information
Because Travel Vitals has been integrated with the Amex GBT Mobile app, chat, and online booking tools, GBT travelers with a booked trip can obtain itinerary-specific information in these channels without having to conduct their own search. Our travel counselors are fully trained on the tool, so they too can look up trip-specific information on your behalf and then share the link of the Travel Vitals results page via chat for you to have handy anytime.
Now let’s say you’ve gone ahead and booked that trip to Paris. In Amex GBT Mobile, you’ll see a Travel Vitals button on the home page that leads you to tabs for each segment of your trip where you can access the latest updates.
For instance, you may click the Country tab to see if France has imposed any new travel restrictions since you’ve booked the trip. Under the Airport section, you can see that all flight arrivals and departures are taking place in Terminal 1 of the Frankfurt airport (FRA) and that some of the terminal parking lots are closed. Scrolling through the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) details, you discover that you’ll have your temperature taken upon your arrival.
Travel managers can also use the tool for planning and duty of care purposes. We’ve integrated Travel Vitals into the trip audit process to trigger alerts to managers when trips are booked to high-risk destinations, and it can also retrospectively trace past trips to areas experiencing a spike in COVID cases to provide post-trip alerts about possible exposures.
Our “information investigation” team carefully compiles the data available on Travel Vitals from hundreds of sources, including government agencies, airports, airlines, rail companies and stations, hotels, and ground transportation providers. Country and regional information is supported by Riskline, a leading travel risk intelligence provider.
The information is reviewed for quality by our Incident Management Response team, which has been providing risk information and coordinating the local response for our clients since the onset of COVID. Because travel guidance and advisories are constantly evolving, we update much of the information daily and display the date when the data was “last verified.” We also share the original source in case users wish to do their own research and due diligence.
We wish to do everything we can to help get the world moving again, whether you are a client of ours or not, traveling for business or leisure. This is why we have made Travel Vitals open and free to all users. So, whether you’re booking a trip soon or dreaming of one in the future, go ahead and give Travel Vitals a try.
For the best experience using Travel Vitals, we recommend that GBT travelers download Amex GBT Mobile and use it on the app.