Over 70 delegates registered for ABTA’s Webinar on ‘Dealing with Covid-19 in the heat of the moment’ hosted on 15 April.  This session focused on some of the immediate challenges companies are facing in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic, including refunds, cancellations, insurance claims and duty of care.

Some of the advice given by our panel of experts Abel Alemu, Regional Manager: Southern Africa – Ethiopian Airlines, Andrew Hosking, Operations Director – Tsogo Sun Hotels, Andrew G. Kelly, Senior Security Manager: Global Operations – Coca Cola Africa, Jason Veitch, Head of Travel Insurance – Travel Insurance Consultants, Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director – Flight Centre Travel Group, Lloyd Barkhuizen, General Manager Corporate Sales – Flight Centre Travel Group, Pascalle Albrecht, Head: Commercial Card, Service & Lifecycle Management: Card Issuing and Payments – Nedbank Limited, Shalini Patel, Team Leader –  Uber for Business, includes:

1. Don’t panic about cancellations and refunds – you have time
Due to the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, many suppliers are making concessions and extending deadlines for dealing with refunds and cancellations.  Within the airline industry, it is estimated that 80% of travel is being postponed to a later date, with 20% of customers requiring cash refunds.  Both air and hotel suppliers are increasing travel validity from what used to be 6 to 12 months, to now up to 18 to 24 months.  If you are struggling to get hold of suppliers – with many reducing their staff numbers and all working remotely – you will have time once everything has settled down to make your changes, request refunds etc.

2. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ – Speak to your suppliers
It is tempting to listen to a variety of channels, social media etc and assume that a ‘blanket approach’ is being used for debt holidays, insurances, refunds etc.  This is simply not true.  Our experts encourage clients to have conversations with their various suppliers and to see what concessions they are eligible for.  Most companies are going out of their way to assist their clients, but a blanket approach will rarely be used, thus finding out how your suppliers are approaching the pandemic and what your options are is of vital importance.

3. The face of insurance will change for good
The unprecedented nature of this pandemic has required insurance companies to re-assess what kinds of cover they offer.  Under standard agreements, and depending what policies you as a company or your travellers have taken out, insurance claims will be paid out where there has been a physical loss.  However, moving forward, it is suggested that insurance companies will remove any and all cover related to pandemics in order to ensure their own sustainability.  Should their be a resurgence of the virus in coming months, insurance companies will simply not be able to withstand the financial burden placed on them.

4. Find ways to re-purpose services
In order for suppliers to support their client base, and to keep bringing in income where possible, the re-purposing of services is becoming necessary.  Airlines are offering cargo services on passenger flights and ground transportation is being used for deliveries and to support essential services.  As an example, Ethiopian Airlines is bringing shipments of medical goods weekly into South Africa, and Uber for Business is delivering essential goods, and transporting essential workers to and from hospitals, banks and so on.
If your business model requires some changes in how you deliver your services, consider reaching out to your current service providers to see if you are able to use them in a re-purposed manner.

5. Band together to reach your objectives
There are still many travellers ‘stuck’ away from home and there are various initiatives where companies are coming together and combining resources to get chartered flights to bring stranded travellers home.  The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as well as TMC’s are making great strides to assist companies to get their travellers home.  Consider reaching out to companies who may have similar shared objectives to your own to share resources needed to successfully reach your objectives.


If you missed this webinar, you are able to listen to it online HERE.
This resource is free of charge for ABTA Members and non Members pay R 250 ($15).


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