We asked you, our customers and business partners across the globe, what your travel arrangements and business travels, in times of pandemic, look like. Here we share all of your stories and experiences to you and your peers across all industries and businesses.
INTERVIEW WITH MARIKA BILÒ
Marika Biló, travel manager at Loccioni
Loccioni integrates ideas, people and technology in the development of automatic measures and quality control systems to improve the quality, the efficiency and the sustainability of products, processes and buildings. Among the most important customers there are Daimler, Ferrari, Ford, Bosch, Whirlpool, Airbus, RFI, Enel, Leonardo, Eni, Eon, Pfizer, General Electric. To improve their processes and products quality and to develop joint innovative projects, local offices are established in Germany, US, China, Japan and India.
The pandemic resulted in border closures and strongly affected business travel. What changed in business travel planning for your company?
Marika: Our way of working is always to book business travel well in advance, both for greater control over travel costs and better internal organization. Now, this is no longer possible and travel planning is happening in real time, and we must keep the entry rules of the various countries under control, unfortunately, restrictions seem to be changing hour by hour.
Have you continued to travel these past months? Are you traveling to the same extent as before or did you adapt your travel arrangements to the new conditions?
Marika: It is undeniable that a video conference cannot replace an in-person meeting, especially when it is necessary to lay the foundation for a new project. During this time, however, the number of people in the company who travel has changed, fewer are traveling for business meetings. The only employees traveling are those making a service repair or installations from scratch. In addition, if you have to move to neighboring countries, the use of a car is preferred. Car travel is more flexible and avoids the unfortunate last minute flight cancellations happening due to the health emergency.
What is the fundamental requirement for your company to be able to travel safely?
Marika: In general, air travel is not dangerous; airlines are required to use disinfection devices on board, such as HEPA filters to ensure the air is sanitized. As well as, implementation of distance measures during all phases of travel. The same measures that we have to observe during our daily life on public transportation, in stores, and restaurants, etc. Our business travelers would appreciate the opportunity to take a COVID test before returning home to their loved ones in peace and quiet.
What are the main challenges in your job as travel manager in this time of crisis?
Marika: It is all a challenge; I already expect several changes while planning a trip. Obviously, the greater flexibility, to change the date of travel is useful, but sometimes it is not enough and for this reason now we choose rates that allow the refund. It would be nice to have more planning flexibility and be able to work more systematically.
How have the Lufthansa Group companies met your company's travel needs during this period?
Marika: Our company's travelers leave from two airports, Bologna and Rome they feel they can count on a greater choice of schedules and destinations. With Lufthansa we feel confident regarding last minute cancellations or irregularities that are inevitable during this period.
Your company is registered as a PartnerPlusBenefit. If you were to mention an advantage today, what is the main one in your opinion?
Marika: During this period, as well as in normal times, I consider the use of points to purchase additional flights to be the main benefit, for us it is also useful to cover indirect costs. Moreover, the program is simple and does not require an investment of time, which especially today, is a valuable asset.
INTERVIEW WITH ERIK ILLIG
Erik Illig, Managing Director at Wilhelm Textiles India Pvt. Ltd.
Wilhelm Textiles India Private Limited is subsidiary of Werner Wilhelm GmbH, Germany. It is an Indo-German joint venture and is in operation since 1995. Wilhelm Textiles India Private Limited, with a very extensive product mix for footwear, automobile, sports goods, home furnishing and other specialized technical applications, serve over 750 customers spread all over the globe. During the last years company has been awarded multiple times, for example in 2018 by Dun and Bradstreet as the best SME in India in Textile and Garment Sector, and first with the coveted Rank of the CLE Export Award in segment shoe components other than uppers.
The factory in Gurgaon is managed by Mr. Erik Illig and a core team consisting of experienced German and Indian experts who ensure the conversion and compliance of European quality standards commercially as well as technically.
How was your experience travelling with Lufthansa Group Airlines during this Covid-19 period?
Erik: Knowing that you can trust the airline, especially in this ciritical periods is essential. With Lufthansa I am sure that protocols and procedures are respected without shortcuts. The professional stuff, the extensive measures to ensure sanitization and the food protection kits made me feel very secure. One can tell that the Lufthansa staff has interiorize the procedures and follows them strictly, as all steps from check-in, boarding, seating until de-boarding were well organized and followed all safety measures.
How was the experience different from travelling prior to Covid-19?
Erik: I personally felt that things were even more organized than usual. Though social distancing makes the queues appear long, but they were moving faster. Also, the additional check-in counters ensured a speedier process. I believe that because everything was so systematic and organized while ensuring the safety, the whole process seems much more smooth and faster than what I was expecting.
Why is business travel important for you and your company?
Erik: While in this virtually advanced world video conferencing is a great help, but cannot replace entirely the important personal contact with customers and colleagues. And so, to ensure partnerships and a strong connect with my clients, travel is crucial even during this uncertain times.
Your company is registered as a PartnerPlusBenefit. If you were to mention an advantage today, what is the main one in your opinion? Any suggestion if you may have?
Erik: The biggest benefit of the PPB program that we enjoy is the free flight based on our tickets. Our preferred awards are award tickets and upgrades. While we really appreciate the benefits of PPB on Lufthansa, we feel that Swiss should be better integrated, as upgrading of non-status passengers and lounge vouchers are not available with them.