Disruptions have always been present in the travel industry. These events that include flight delays and cancellations, have often been caused by equipment or technology-related issues, overbooking problems, or weather-related conditions. Rolling into 2022, we saw an increase in the number of disruptions occurring globally in the post-pandemic era – more than at any time in our history. This was the result of a faster-than-expected recovery in air travel clashing with massive staffing shortages at airports and airlines, including ground crew, and at hotels after deep cuts occurred during the pandemic. As a result, travelers have had to relearn how to function in a very different travel landscape with growing pains across many sectors of the industry marked to continue well into 2023 and beyond.

Revenge travel – the tip of the iceberg

Data from the flight tracking app Flightaware.com indicates that flights were almost twice as likely to be delayed last year compared to 2021. While revenge travel is boosting ticket sales, capacity among the six largest US airlines is currently below 2019 levels. This has created a perfect storm in which airlines have less flexibility to rebook passengers affected by delays and cancellations. To that end, travelers have had to deal with growing pains that include last-minute flight changes, property closures, staffing shortages, and erratic health/safety information across the globe. Now what?

Disruption management solutions that can save the day

Fortunately, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) launched a series of solutions designed to provide clients and travelers with disruption management assistance, including data insights that help business travelers navigate delays and cancellations, resulting in a smoother travel experience.

Mark McSpadden, vice president of product strategy and user experience at Amex GBT, said: “As business travelers get back on the road, companies are putting more stock in the end-to-end travel experience. They want to reduce travel friction while giving employees more autonomy to plan, book, and modify trips. Amex GBT has prioritized developments that expand our unique proactive assistance services. These tools deliver actionable information and more convenient ways for travelers to stay connected to everything they need at every stage of their journey.”

Q & A – Managing travel disruptions in 2023

To help businesses navigate these changeable times, we recently hosted a webinar, How to Manage Today’s Complex Travel Disruptions, that focused on the reasons behind this turbulent period and solutions available that can help travelers and travel managers in 2023. Many questions were asked by viewers throughout the presentation.

Below are the top three that resonated with our audience.

1. What does the Proactive Traveler Care™ in-trip assistant experience look like?

When a traveler experiences a disruption, a notification is sent via Proactive Traveler Care if:

  • The flight delay is significantly delayed.
  • The flight is canceled.
  • The traveler’s flight delay will result in a missed connection.

It’s important to note that Proactive Traveler Care begins monitoring flights 24 hours before departure time. After the initial notification, subsequent notifications are triggered based on flight information that comes our way via our vendor.

If the traveler’s flight status continues to change, or if one of the above scenarios occur, additional notifications are sent.

These notifications are sent based on the channels the traveler has noted in their passenger name record. If the traveler has the Amex GBT Mobile app, email, and SMS, they will receive the notification across all channels. If we only have the traveler’s email available, the notification will be sent via email. This well-rounded channel coverage makes the solution foolproof so that communication to the traveler is always consistent.

Overall, this tool provides a simple and efficient solution that reduces stress and provides a tremendous amount of peace of mind before the traveler even begins their journey.

2. What is your forecast for 2023 regarding already increasing airfares?

At a high level, this information comes from the partnership between local government agencies and airlines. We have already seen reactions to the current environment and the need for many pilots to be hired over the next decade.

Increasing airfares are currently being addressed by different airlines while they continue to attract talent in the industry with lucrative offers. Amex GBT is working closely with airlines on capacity and the current political landscape, alongside the return to travel.

We recently launched our annual Airline Monitor 2023, which dives much deeper into the forecast and trends of airfare movements on key business routes.

3. Will Amex GBT continue to roll out new disruption management solutions as needed in the future?

Amex GBT was the first company to create Travel Vitals®, an online repository of information and advisories providing clients with trip entry and exit requirement information. Travel Vitals details are integrated into the Amex GBT Mobile app to keep travelers informed throughout their journey.

In the future, we will continue to roll out solutions based on what the needs are within the travel landscape. If warranted, we would also expand our current channels to meet the evolving needs of clients.

To further support you during these times of disruption and continued growth, we recommend viewing the full version of our recent webinar, How to Handle Today’s Complex Travel Disruptions, where you’ll learn the latest disruption management solutions plus planning tips and protocols to have in place for the year ahead.

To find out how we can tailor a disruption management program to meet your individual needs, please contact us.

Webinar: How to Manage Today's Complex Travel Disruptions

Learn how to best manage your travel program in today's environment.