Business travel

Safety first – Tools at your fingertips

As the business travel industry finally begins to emerge from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, we take a look at the practical resources available to organizations to keep these responsibilities under control – both pre-travel and on the road. .

A plethora of tools and resources are currently available to organizations, and one of the first steps is to determine which of these services are best suited to the type of trip – and the level of risk – taken by travelers.

“There are many technical tools on the market, especially when it comes to centralizing route management, traveler tracking and communication,” explains Suzanne Sangiovese, Director of Sales and Communications at Riskline.

Pre-trip options include services such as briefings for travelers and expert advice on destinations, which are designed to point out potential health, safety and security concerns. Many suppliers produce “risk maps” covering countries and regions so that users can assess the level of potential danger to their employees.

Healix, for example, recently launched its Sentinel Protect subscription service offering tailored, proactive risk intelligence, analysis and reporting, which was developed to “mitigate risks before they become problematic.”

There are also medical tools to make sure employees are ‘fit to travel’ and whether they need to take any vaccines or medication before traveling to certain destinations – a factor that became even more important at the time. of Covid.

“Employees should be empowered to take responsibility for their own safety, receiving all the information and advice they need before travel,” says James Wood, Head of Security Solutions at International SOS.

Travel tools are the other key element, where travelers receive the latest medical and safety advice on the road, usually via a smartphone app, as well as access to 24/7 emergency hotlines. 7 to help them, if necessary.

When an incident occurs, such as a terrorist attack, civil unrest or natural disaster, tracking capabilities allow travelers in a designated area to be quickly located and contacted. This can take the form of “push” messages to travelers, via an app, so they can respond to the push of a button to say they’re okay.

In extreme circumstances, services may also extend to ground assistance and passenger evacuation assistance, which are typically provided by security specialists.

Being able to locate travelers who may be affected by a safety or health incident is essential as part of the duty of care.

TMCs are in a vital position to help customers locate their travelers in an emergency, often working hand-in-hand with a security specialist, as they would need to have the travel data to be able to find travelers quickly, provided they have booked through the tools company.

Identifying potential risks before travel and within the booking process itself becomes a more important part of TMC services, alongside assistance to travelers on the road.

Shelley Mathews, Managing Director of Sales, EMEA, at CTM, explains that the TMC uses maps to assess the level of risk in destinations before travel.

“The more responsive side is sending alerts to the travel manager, booker and traveler if something happens in a place they are or are going,” she adds.

“We’re doing more on the proactive side by posting risk levels and alerts in the booking flow, so travelers are informed before they book and trips aren’t unnecessarily booked.”

Just knowing where your travelers are is a key part of improving due diligence and a compelling reason for employees to book through the kind of corporate booking tools offered by TMC and others.

One of the most difficult decisions for organizations is whether to hire a specialist security provider – often their TMC will have an existing relationship with one of these companies, which can make the process easier.

“If you have the necessary bandwidth and level of expertise in-house, you may be able to implement and manage your own travel risk management (TRM) program, especially if you have a manageable number of travelers who travel primarily to stereotypical “safe” destinations. “Regions”, explains Matthew Judge, general manager of the Anvil Group.

But even if an organization believes its employees are traveling almost entirely to “low risk” destinations, serious incidents can happen anywhere.

“I wouldn’t suggest that a company only involve specialists if it is traveling to high-risk destinations. Crises and risks, big and small, can happen anywhere – the pandemic has shown us exactly that.” , adds Suzanne Sangiovese of Riskline.

Chris Job, director of risk management services at Healix, advises organizations to involve security companies “as early as possible to design and develop a comprehensive program” to assess risks to travelers, before deciding whether a relationship continue is required.

“Companies can then assess which of these risks they are willing to tolerate without any security provisions and engage with a specialist security provider for the risks that need to be addressed,” Job adds.

For organizations that don’t think the services of a security specialist are appropriate, affordable, or necessary, there are plenty of free resources available in this area.

These include updates and detailed advice from national and international organizations, such as the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. . The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides information on a global scale.

There are also live tracking apps for consumers that can potentially be used by businesses, though obviously not backed by professional risk management support.

Several security companies offer free publicly available content in the form of blogs, webinars, and white papers, which can be useful in helping organizations assess their level of risk and take practical steps to mitigate them.