Mental health and wellbeing in business travel IoD leads the way on this important topic

On Monday 18 February experts in the travel and hospitality industry came together at Melia Whitehouse Marylebone to discuss mental health in business travel. From early evening around 40 leaders in the travel industry mingled over Pinot Grigio, Merlot and a sumptuous buffet.

Around 7pm the panel commenced, consisting of Julie Murphy of Nippon Airways, Christopher Babayode of NoJetStress, Clive Wratten of the Business Travel Association, Martine Holland-Robinson ACE Travel, Gianni Salvadori of Melia Hotel, mediated by David Clare from the Business Travel Network and chaired by Elisabetta Faggiana, Director of Unexpected London.

Each of the panelists contributed so much to the topic and it was one of those panels where the mix was extremely complimentary, with each person offering a different perspective on issues and questions raised, and providing fresh insights into topics ranging from travel policies, sustainability, the image of business travellers in your organisation, how team structure can help and ways to get the most out of your travellers without ruining their work-life balance.

Martine Holland-Robinson, Head of Sales and Marketing at ACE Travel Management, talked about how TMCs can reward good policy & guide companies towards more responsible travel structure. Clive Wratten imparted some of his more than 25 years’ experience in the travel industry, more specifically by giving insights into Andy’s story, an ex client of his, through a very explicative video on the issues that most business travellers face both personally and work-wise. This brought to life the reality of being aware of your traveller’s needs. Clive’s mantra ‘prevention is better than intervention’ resonated with all. Julie Murphy outlined the significance of face to face meetings as relationship-building exercises that business travel enables, and the importance of being super organised, so that travellers are good to go the moment they step through their front door. Christopher Babayode, an ex-crew member for BA and now a travel wellness expert, raised the controversial point that recognising that there is a problem does not make us worse, but makes us better at managing it. Ignoring stress is not the key to success, as he explains in his book No Jet Stress. Gianni Salvadori, head of Business Travel and MICE Sales for UK, France and Italy, spoke about how working ‘abnormal’ hours can impact on your relationship & wellbeing. He also spoke about the challenges he faces in terms of making companies understand the importance of ‘Bleisure Travel’, namely the possibility to offer add-ons to business travellers to improve their wellbeing and reduce stress levels!

The questions and interaction from the audience was energised – what about online meetings? Great for some things but sometimes face to face meetings can’t be replaced. The juxtaposition between glamour & stress was also addressed. Not having to choose between the planet and your people was a great realisation by busting the apparently popular misconception that business class isn’t green. Not true!

David Clare facilitated really well with all having a fair say and bringing out the best of the conversation. In the audience were experts from all fields from nuclear energy, to insurance, to airline companies, to wellness specialists, all looking to learn how to pack wellbeing into the bags of their travellers. From what I can gather, no one went away empty-handed!

This event was organised by the Chair of the newly launched IoD Travel Special Interest Group, Elisabetta Faggiana of Unexpected London. Elisabetta with her committee Sarah Williams and Jahan Khan, is organising the next event of How to keep secure and safe, that could not be more relevant in this time in history, which will take place on 20th April at the beautiful Royal Lancaster Hotel at Lancaster Gate.

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