Lockdown diaries - Stephanie Rothman, Corporate Travel Manager
Stephanie Rothman, Corporate Travel Manager, lives and breathes global travel – which over the past months has ground to a standstill.
Contrary to what you might expect, this hasn’t meant that her work life has stopped. Far from it, in fact, as the travel world seamlessly moved into the digital sphere to regroup and plan for the future.
“I usually attend a three-day annual travel conference, which was scheduled to be held in Brighton this year – but instead of cancelling, the Institute of Travel Management created a virtual environment which was attended by 900-odd delegates. This included both travel buyers and travel suppliers – all of whom were catered for with phenomenal digital content. Although, as you’d expect, the opportunity to network with people was sadly missed.”
"As we move forward, I expect the travel industry will focus intensely on passenger safety, providing thorough pre-, during- and post-travel information and guidance, and climate change and sustainability"
A challenge like no other
Petrofac travel team’s duties weren’t completely devoid of expertly coordinating flights – a great challenge in the early phase of the pandemic was repatriating stranded colleagues in the face of ever-tightening flight restrictions.
“I would also like to thank my team in the UAE – Sandy Ishak and Elham Samra – who worked tirelessly to find repatriation flights for our colleagues in the Middle East, despite extremely limited seats and strict border controls – a task few travel professionals had ever had to face.”
As the travel industry licks its wounds and reshuffles its priorities, seasoned expert Stephanie believes the global travel landscape looks set to considerably change in the medium to long term.
“As we move forward, I expect the travel industry will focus intensely on passenger safety, providing thorough pre-, during- and post-travel information and guidance, and climate change and sustainability. We do expect a considerable decline in business travel at Petrofac, moving forward, and are currently planning what permissible travel looks like, and how this should be managed in our travel programme.
New skills for a 'new normal'
It’s impressive how driven and on-target Stephanie and the team remain – despite now working under a totally ‘new normal’. Like for many of us, her life has considerably changed under lockdown – and in some ways for the better!
“My day starts a little later now, as I no longer have the alarm buzzing at 5.30 am, which is a welcomed change! The occasional walk around the local park at the end of the day gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs, clear my thoughts and contemplate new ideas to implement to make life easier for our travellers.”
You may well relate to how Stephanie has had to dig deep to find ways of keeping her family engaged and entertained during a very unsettling period.
“We’ve been learning new skills – thanks YouTube! – and focused on the resources right around us, given then we can’t venture further afield. We found elderflowers and a lime tree in our garden, so we turned our hand to experimenting with homemade cordials, which was both rewarding and delicious."
"Isolation has brought new perspective of societies’ behaviours and how incredibly important it is to create a healthy environment for mental wellbeing"
“The caveman in my husband has been released – and he has experimented with making Biltong (cured meat), a South African delicacy, as well as Boerewors (a sausage) spiral for braaiing (barbecueing). His efforts have – surprisingly – turned out to be far better than what’s available from retailers in the UK!"
“Amongst these activities I’ve found a new skill as a barber, as there was no time to waste with my husband starting to resemble a woolly mammoth.”
For Stephanie, lockdown has been a period of great change, introspection, hard work and discovery. To sum up her experience so far, she reflected:
“Isolation has brought new perspective of societies’ behaviours and how incredibly important it is to create a healthy environment for mental wellbeing. It’s been touching and inspiring to see how relentlessly colleagues have been working to achieve our company objectives, and families have been brought together in enclosed capsules where we have learnt to share and have found new ways of enjoying family time.”