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The COVID-19 pandemic came with a lot of adjustments. With all the uncertainty around travel restrictions and health risks, Google’s data shows that 57% expect flexible bookings, changes or cancellation options. The uncertain health atmosphere of COVID-19 means there may be airline-initiated cancellations, fluctuating risks of contracting Covid-19 and strict quarantine laws may also come into play, which may necessitate an extended trip and more cost. 

But for business travellers, the need for travel flexibility extends beyond the current uncertainty. Deadlines, client meetings and work schedules can change at a moment’s notice – it’s important that business travel flexibility gives travellers the ease of change while keeping costs manageable.

Throughout the pandemic, travel service operators adjusted their cancellation policies temporarily to give more travel flexibility. There are also more long-term innovative products in the market now to meet traveller demand for more lasting travel flexibility beyond COVID-19.

What is travel flexibility? Why is it important to businesses?

Travel flexibility is the term used to describe a level of control over travel bookings. These include flight schedules, hotel, and train accommodations as well as car rental. This level of control permits post-booking changes in travel dates or cancellations. Usually, these changes come either free of charge, or with small fees. Sometimes, it may need other conditions that make it easier for the traveller to change plans. 

This option has become the favourite of business travellers. Before, now, business travellers have been penalized for abrupt rescheduling and cancellation. Yet, constant rescheduling and cancellations from clients or business associates are common occurrences. As such, travel flexibility is so important to businesses and business travellers. Travel service operators offer options and packages to accommodate some of these changes.

1) Flexi tickets or options offered by hotels and airlines

Although flexible options were not so common, they were available to premium customers and passengers. When booking a flight, travellers are typically presented with more than one ticket rate for the same flight. The more expensive ticket option usually comes with additional perks such as refunds if you cancel your trip. 

The same goes for hotels. You can choose between the standard room rate or the more expensive ones. The standard room rate doesn’t allow you any refunds while a more expensive flexible rate allows you to cancel and get refunded within a certain time period. 

The disadvantages however include more expensive options, the cancellation process can be tedious, and policies may be complicated. There are hidden charges in the refund policies. Cancellations are usually restricted to bookings within a specific period and re-booking is only permitted within a certain period. Sometimes, refunds can be restricted to credit points and not cash.

2) Covid-19 flexible airline and hotel policies

Historically, flexible options are hard to come by. But, as a result of the pandemic, most travel service providers are offering some level of flexibility in their services. 

Some hotels offer change-fee-free cancellations for reservations made within a certain period or window. Other hotels favour customers with certain subscriptions or loyalty with cancellation. 

Airlines have also evolved new flexibility. Some airlines offer waivers for change fees within a certain window, while others offer validity for all tickets within a certain period extending beyond the initial booking date. Furthermore, some airlines offer to permanently eliminate change fees, while others charge the fare difference. Also, some airlines offer a one-time cancellation without a change fee, while others offer cancellation of at least two hours before departure plus converting your ticket into a transferable voucher that never expires. Some airlines offer ticket validity for another airline after cancellation without a change fee.

While these flexible policies present exciting offers, they come with a few downsides. Some basic economy tickets are not eligible for changes and are constrained to certain time-based booking policies. Also, cancellations may not necessarily mean automatic refunds with associated financial stress.

Sometimes, it takes a while to process the refund and some payment aspects of your bookings are not guaranteed refund. Getting refunds can become problematic if the booking was made through some online travel agents. Essentially, the difference in the cost of airfare is not refunded.

3) Cancel for any reason with TruFlex

travel flexibility truflex

TruFlex allows you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours before your trip for up to 50% cheaper than traditional flexi options. Once you click cancel on your travel booking, you get an instant 80% refunded in cash. For people who have a dependency on external factors beyond their control, TruFlex is ideal. With cash, you get true flexibility to re-book on any route, date, airline, and travel provider.

Anyone can use TruFlex but it can only be applied to bookings made via TruTrip. If you need to cancel your trip, you can do so with a single click on the app. Alternatively, you can cancel by talking to our support team through email, chat, or phone call. Upon cancellation, your claim is processed automatically based on the information already provided – no additional forms to fill which is a relief for business travellers on the go.

As for cost, TruFlex is offered at a small subscription fee of SGD 20 per month for a whole company plus 12.8% fee (taxes inclusive) on each travel booking. Refunds are made to your account instantly from either the full amount recovered from providers or 80% of pre-paid, non-refundable, amounts or deposits. The final settlement amount is dependent upon how quickly the airline or hotel decided. This can extend from 3 to 10 business days. 

For full information about TruFlex and T&C, read more in this article or this FAQ section.

Travel flexibility and more for business trips

At TruTrip, we cover everything you need to make your business travel better including risk alerts, up-to-date travel restrictions, Covid-19 test bookings, automated travel policies and more. We’re always keen to hear about your travel needs – book a demo or sign up for a free trial to see how we can help improve your business travel programme.

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