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Ash Cloud Blows Smoke All Over Travel Industry

September 20, 2010 By: Melanie Gretchen

FimmvörðuhálsIn a recent survey of 372 U.S.-based corporate travel managers, 85 percent reported that their organizations were affected by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland in April, when canceled flights to and from Western Europe led to stranded passengers, extended hotel stays and canceled meetings. A majority of 86 percent said the ash cloud reminded them of the unpredictability of their employees' travels and said it will affect their business continuity planning.

Last week, International SOS, the international healthcare, medical assistance and security services company, in conjunction with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), a trade association, conducted the survey via a webinar, following a joint briefing released this month about the organizational challenges faced by corporated travel managers at the time and strategies that can be implemented in the future that may raise similar challenges.

The survey found that 33 percent of the respondents— mostly corporate travel managers with additional representation from security, human resources, business continuity and other functional areas— rated the financial impact to their organizations and associated travel disruptions as "moderate" to "significant."

Since then, 20 percent of the respondents have enabled or increased their ability to access on-demand, real-time information on people traveling for their organizaitons, including travel dates, flight numbers, lodging plans and itineraries. Although 55 percent said their organizations had systems in place prior to the event, 25 percent said their organization does not have a real-time travel data system in place.

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