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The ever-changing role of an EA

by Steve Banks, Chief Commercial Officer

Building an ever-closer relationship to understand Execs’ own anxieties and concerns has always been fundamental to an EA’s role. But, as new risks emerge and wellbeing becomes more important, the role has been transformed to be a more perceptive, trusted and pre-emptive planner and researcher.

Understanding the ‘risk appetite’, of both the company and the individual, and their attitude to travelling is even more vital. The role has become more aligned to know more about personal preferences and professional decisions to put Exec safety and wellbeing at the top of the priority list.

Health and a greater focus on work-life balance have added new variables to every trip. Travel risk has shifted from on-trip to pre-trip. Pre-Covid, risk centred on a traveller visiting an unfamiliar destination with travellers unsure whether to catch a cab or walk to the hotel. Now, the questions centre around whether it is safe to travel at all and the appetite for it. From international red travel lists to face masks and testing, Execs need to be armed with accurate information about what to expect if travelling. The personal circumstances of travellers, combined with unique trip requirements manifest as decisions for EAs, like which hotel will an Exec feel safe, whether to take a lateral flow test or who to shake hands with at a meeting (if attending at all).

While EAs are often depicted as incredible multitaskers, they don’t need to work alone to offset the risks of modern travel and meetings. We pre-empt challenges with upgraded technology: our Covid-Shield highlights hotel’s and venue’s Covid policies and resource hubs with vital guidance and information before-and-during trips.

The power to react effectively holds equal value. Travel is so fast-paced and fluid that travellers need more support than technology and there’s no substitute for human experience, expertise and knowledge. A modern EA must seek out information but can count on their TMC to give answers at the end of the phone.

Everyone is different, whether it’s attitudes to vaccines, Brexit or the preferences for in-person meetings over virtual. An EA perspective doesn’t only have to respect it, but must work within that. The key is to understand an Exec’s needs, harnessing the support of travel and meeting management solutions.

If you want to come and discuss the changing role of the EA or Travel Manager, we're exhibiting at the Business Travel Show on 30 September and 1 October. Find us at stand BTSD150!

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