The violence and looting across large parts of London and the rest of England has not put corporate travellers off taking to the road, according to industry chiefs.
After speaking with a number of travel management companies, consensus says that business travellers in the UK are unlikely to cancel or postpone trips.
Chris Thelen, CEO of Chambers Travel Management, predicted business travellers would take the past days’ events in their stride.
“Paris had its own form of this a couple of years ago,” he said, “and in the States the same thing is happening in Philadelphia.
“I think it’s becoming a little more commonplace, and most business travellers become really resilient to these things. I think they get more concerned if they hear about airport closure. Life goes on.”
Amanda Kotenko, American Express’ head of client management for business travel in the UK and Ireland, reported few shockwaves from the events.
“I have not had any feedback, either directly from customers or from my team that there has been any evidence of any meaningful changes to plans,” she said.
The timing is fortunate in terms of business travel, however, said Kotenko: “It’s August, whcih is the quieter period of the year anyway, so that would diminish any impact.”
There could be more of an impact on inbound business travellers coming from overseas, suggested Kotenko, alhtough “it might take a little bit longer” to see, she said – “we’re not seeing or feeling any evidence of that right now”.
This sentiment was echoed by Chambers’ Thelen who was speaking to ABTN whilst on a business trip in the US: “There is some concern here that it is as widespread as it is.”
On the operations side, some impact is being felt by American Express as it’s offices are in Croydon, one of the epicentres for Monday night’s looting.
“We’ve put the necessary measures in place to look after our people,” said Kotenko, but business has so far continued as usual, despite the unrest in the area.
Hogg Robinson Group too has seen an impact on operations, taking the decision to send staff from its Holborn offices home early yesterday afternoon and from its offices in Leicester.
Ian Windsor, HRG’s managing director, told ABTN: “We had an evening shift in Leicester due to work through to 10pm. Instead we arranged for cars to pick them up at 6pm, and we managed the rest from our home working team.”
According to Windsor, clients have been taking the unrest very seriously: “They’re trying to be aware of what the security aspects are, and asking questions about transport and hotels.”