March 31, 2020

COVID-19: An update from our directors

I have never read, or written, the word ‘unprecedented’ so much, but no other word really sums up this extraordinary time we are going through at the moment. None of us in the industry could have predicted at the start of the year that the sporting calendar would be wiped clean, let alone the Olympic Games postponed. But this is where we are, and as we head into April we face uncertain times for all of us as we hunker down to combat the coronavirus.

At Travel Places we have made the decision to furlough a number of our staff, whilst maintaining a core group of travel specialists to respond to any incoming needs. This decision was not an easy one for us but helps us to support our staff and business in the long-run. Those staff that are furloughed are not forgotten about. We are implementing new, more informal ways to stay in touch through social media, as well as developing a dedicated staff wellbeing programme and even hosting an inaugural Friday night ‘pub’ quiz for our team and their families. Our core value of ‘teamwork’ is more important now than ever as we move forwards.

We have seen a lot in our 40 + year history. Whilst this is definitely a new one for us, our team certainly proved themselves reissuing more than 1,000 tickets and bringing home the teams and media crew from an Australian GP that was not to be. Our business processes are robust and our contingency planning kicked as the team worked 24/7 to provide clients with seamless travel solutions to bring their groups home safely.

We appreciate that for everyone this is not an easy time and there is a lot of uncertainty. The industry has been rocked to the core. Images of runways full of grounded planes and empty city centres fill the news pages, whilst video conferencing platform Zoom has made headlines by being valued at 50% more than all the US airlines put together. We are not alone in furloughing staff as we respond to the more than a quarter of the World’s population being placed into lockdown. Hotels, airlines, ground transportation –have all been hugely impacted. It is at this time, as an industry, that we must stand together and support one another through what are set to be a turbulent few months, impacting the sporting and travel calendar for the entire year. But, we must look to the future and look with anticipation to a fantastic year of sport to come – Tokyo 2020 Paralympic and Olympic Games will go ahead, albeit in July 2021; we will be on the track with the F1 and FE teams in 2021 and the sporting calendar will blossom again, and we will be there for it.

We will continue to keep you abreast of what is going on in the industry and are always here if you do want to get in touch about any of your team and group travel needs, or for support with your travel policy or operations in this rare downtime.

We wish you, and all of your teams the best and look forward to seeing you all at the track, pitch or airport in a few month’s time.

Matt & Nick Warren

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

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