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Coronavirus: Corporate travel agents plot safe return to business trips

SYDNEY – Corporate travel agents are using the coronavirus-induced lull in bookings to work with companies on how to get their staff out of Zoom videoconferences and safely back in the air.

They are launching new tools to provide on-the-ground information about local mask requirements, social distancing regulations and quarantine rules, as well as details of hotel, airline and ground-transport hygiene.

Travellers are moving away from cheaper online bookings to seek counsel from experienced consultants amid a slow but growing rebound in the corporate travel industry, which normally accounts for US$1.4 trillion (S$1.95 trillion) of annual spending.

“I am seeing a trend now starting to pick up… We can Zoom or Microsoft meetings but nothing beats the face to face,” said Ms Jo Sully, regional general manager Asia-Pacific at American Express Global Business Travel.

“I think it will be a gradual recovery in terms of that. People will maybe think ‘Should I just do this via Zoom?’ but the overall response is people will go back to travelling for meetings,” the Sydney-based executive said.

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