Businesses Not Prepared for Winter Travel Chaos

With travel chaos hitting Scotland today, UK businesses are being urged to look at their travel management plans for over the winter months.   In January 2013, less than an inch of snow caused over 300 delayed flights in a single day at Heathrow airport and it has been previously estimated that effect winter weather can cost the British economy up to £500m per day so contingency plans are vital.

The cost of finding solutions to these situations can often be crippling and costly to a business, both in terms of valuable staff time wasted and the difficulty in finding the time or the resources to source viable, inexpensive travel alternatives.   Franc Jeffrey,  CEO of Dunfermline based EQ Travel Management who has helped several companies to avert weather chaos disruption, said: “As part of our daily routine we monitor global events and activity so we can respond quickly when major disruptions to travel occur. This ensures our travellers make it to their destination or can be evacuated as quickly and safely as possible.”
The weather doesn't just affect global business travellers; previously EQ have faced challenges when bad weather has forced the cancellation of UK internal flights, leaving clients facing lengthy delays or being stuck overnight. Because they receive automatic flight updates they are able to immediately rebook individuals onto later flights or recommend travelling by train if the weather conditions are very unpredictable.   On the odd occasion they have also booked hotel accommodation, when the snow has ground the country to a halt with the advice of ‘essential travel only’.   The key is, because they have systems in place, they can often do this before the travel issue become public knowledge, therefore finding solutions before the rush starts.
While working with a travel management company doesn't protect businesses from major disruptions, it does ensure that valuable time and money saved, having experts dealing with the fall out, not your staff.    Imagine the impact on your company productivity if office staff are tied up making alternative arrangements for travel and accommodation?
Franc also highlighted how the safety and well-being of employees in these situations is a worry for businesses.  He added: “During severe weather situations it is important for companies to know where their staff are and that they are safe.  Using real time travel management reports, we can help companies to track employees and are able to assure businesses that they are safe in these locations. Additionally, this ensures companies remain compliant with European Duty of Care legislation.”
 If your company needs to send employees on trips during the winter, there are ways to lessen the stress of missing an important meeting because the runway is closed at Heathrow. Here are four sanity-saving tips that might come in handy while travelling this winter:
1. Book flights wisely: Choose an early morning flight. That way if your flight gets cancelled you have the entire rest of the day to find an alternative flight. And if possible, pick an airline / airport with lots of flight options—the more the merrier when you positively have to get to an important meeting.
2. A Must-Have Phone App:Any app on your phone or tablet that displays a 7-Day Forecast is a godsend and one not to be trifled with when planning business trips. Trust me, if your business involves being in the air a lot during the winter, it is way more important than your Fantasy Football app. Don’t wait until a storm hits to start making alternate plans—you knew seven days ago what was coming! It was right there on the app. Stay ahead of the weather system game and make your contingency plans as far ahead as possible.
3. The domino effect:Always remember that even though its 68 degrees when your flight lifts off at LAX in mid-January, chances are the weather is going to be a whole lot different when you land at Edinburgh. It’s this Jekyll & Hyde weather pattern that must keep you on your toes, because the weather that allows you to take off can soon become the weather that doesn't allow you to land. Be aware of the weather in all the cities on your itinerary. A good Travel Management Company will keep you constantly updated on weather conditions with alerts to your phone, tablet or laptop. Some airlines will even address customer service issues on their social media pages or Apps
4. Allow Time:Finally, for business travellers trying to get somewhere in unpredictable winter weather one of the best suggestions is to allow plenty of time to get where you are going. Yes, it might cost a little more money to book a flight the day before or put an extra night in a hotel room on your company credit card. But weighed against the option of missing a meeting with a client to finalise a deal, it’s an investment well worth taking. And if you do find yourself stranded in an airport, turn it into your temporary office.  Plug in your laptop, grab a Starbucks Latte Grande, and conduct business while you watch them de-ice the wings of your plane (on second thought, maybe skip that part). Above all remember that jumping up and down at the ticket desk will not win you friends.
Inclement weather will always be a concern to business travellers. But by being pro-active in how you handle the situation, or by enlisting a travel management company to do the legwork, you’ll find yourself handling all the adversity thrown your way.

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