An easy guide to mitigate business travel risk
What should companies be doing to meet ever-increasing duty of care obligations to mitigate business travel risk?
First published: 1 October 2019
Last updated: 7 March 2022
Whether it’s environmental, security, or health related obstacles, organisations are learning to tackle numerous and ever-changing risk factors. Duty of care obligations to business travellers have never looked more different and are now essential pre-requisites for every travel programme and its travellers.
According to a 2021 survey by Global Business Travel Association and Serko, seven in ten (71%) travel managers reported their company’s booking-related travel policies have become stricter due to the pandemic and 85% pointed to the need for access to integrated destination health and safety information. This underlies a significant shift from personalising the business traveller’s experience to rebuilding confidence.
Change is the only constant has never held truer. No longer are we merely talking about reducing traveller friction such as insomnia, depression, discomfort, exhaustion from travelling, it’s all about rebuilding traveller confidence and peace of mind in today’s landscape.
While every company’s risk appetite within its travel recovery blueprint will be different, there are measures which an organisation can take to mitigate these risks. Here are our top tips.
1 Re-configure your travel management programme
Incorporate input from HR, legal, and risk departments. Some companies use that input to establish training programmes to educate employees on the risks they face when travelling domestically or internationally. Others have used it to tailor their travel programmes to tackle the safe repatriation or health and safety of their employees. It is critical for companies to constantly monitor and finetune their policies to address the changing needs of travellers based on destinations.
2 Structure a travel risk management strategy
One of the biggest challenges many companies will face in 2022 and beyond is ‘compliance’ by travellers and ‘response’ during a critical incident. Whether it be changes to a country’s entry/exit restriction or an unforeseen obstacle such as a natural disaster, transportation disruption or virus outbreak.
The ISO 31030 published in September 2021 provides organisations with a common standard on how to build, implement and evaluate a travel risk management strategy. The standard includes guidance on how to implement an effective risk management policy, programme development, threat and hazard identification, opportunities and strengths, risk assessments, and prevention and mitigation strategies.
If the ISO 31030 is too daunting and complicated, here’s a simplified framework to help you get started.
Four Stage Travel Risk Management Plan
- Identify the risk - Risk varies according to location, environment and circumstance. Make sure the risks in each location your travellers visit is visible – not just the life-threatening ones. Just knowing where a traveller is does not mean you have a workable plan in place to help when things go wrong. Make it clear to the traveller what those risks are, what measures are being taken in the interests of their safety.
- Prepare your traveller - Prepare your travellers before they travel. Make sure they have the latest advice on vaccination requirements and where to get them. Educate them on potential health risks, how to prevent them and what to do if they do fall ill whilst travelling on business
- Traveller tracking - It is important that health response plans cover extreme eventualities such as a country closing its borders due to disease outbreak, but also more everyday risks such as traffic accidents and personal theft. Travellers need to know what action to take and the support they will receive in these circumstances.
- Communication and response - Response processes, communication channels and traveller perceptions of the available support need to be checked and reviewed regularly.
3 Digitalisation: a complement to the travel risk management strategy
Over the last two years, companies have had first-hand experiences in how the use of technologies through digital transformation helped to increase the efficacy of a risk management plan. It’s taught a lot of companies to increase reliance on automation tools rather than handle it manually.
Many new tools can now automate the delivery of critical entry/exit, testing, and other critical safety information directly to travellers, travel bookers, and travel managers in a constantly changing travel landscape. Speak to your TMC to learn more and implement them into your travel risk management plan.
If your travellers are still worried in spite of the redesigned travel programmes, risk management plans and available technologies that can help to support them, here’s a quick checklist to ease their mind in the preparation for any travel.
Business travel checklist
- Prepare – gather all items you will need to book your trip. What entry/exit restrictions exist in your destination? Do you need proof of vaccination or testing? Quarantine? Travel Insurance? Visa?
- Stay informed – What tools do you have to stay informed about disruptions to your trip? For example, do you have access to a mobile app to keep you informed about travel alerts in your destination?
- Have a plan – Have a plan on who to contact if you get sick, need to quarantine, or incur an unexpected incident or accident.
- Be patient and communicate – With airlines and hotels operating with less staff, travel disruptions like delays and cancellations are becoming more common. Plan for the unexpected, be patient, and overcommunicate with your business or your emergency contacts about how your trip is progressing.
- Have fun! – Traveling isn’t all hard work…once you’ve arrived in your destination safe and sound, have fun – enjoy your time with your colleagues, friends, or family.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help – if during your trip, you run into any problems, know who to contact and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Emergency contacts in today’s world include: Your TMC, your travel insurance provider, your travel risk provider (Crisis24/International SOS), or a dedicated embassy, consulate, government, airline or hotel hotline for assistance.
- Review – Once your trip has been completed, take the time to communicate with your travel manager on things that went right and things that you’d wish had been different to help your manager enhance their COVID-19 strategy.
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