Business Travel Risk Management Best Practices

Whether it's the recent wildfires in Australia, unrest in the Middle East or the ongoing development of the Coronavirus, on any given day, there are man-made or natural disasters in some part of the world. Catastrophic incidents are especially of concern to companies that have employees traveling to high-risk areas. However, risk management best practices aren’t only for high-risk travel. Proactive risk management is important because incidents can happen anywhere, rather unexpectedly. How can companies ensure that they are able to provide assistance to team members in need? And will business travel become riskier in the 2020s?

In a recent survey of professionals in the business travel industry, 51 percent said that travel risk was greater in 2019 than the previous year, and 47 percent believed that this would worsen in 2020. Security threats were seen as the greatest risk to business travelers, followed by civil unrest and geopolitical threats. More than half of respondents predicted a greater number of rescheduled trips due to natural disasters.

Today’s world is increasingly unpredictable. For companies that have traveling professionals, it is critical to have a robust risk management program in place.

What is Travel Risk Management?

Before diving into trends, it’s important to understand the foundation and definitions surrounding risk management and duty of care. Travel risk management is a comprehensive and proactive plan designed to protect your employees and your organization from a wide array of global corporate travel dangers and threats. A travel risk policy comprises a set of instructions and procedures to prevent harm to anyone traveling for company business and to mitigate the consequences of an unforeseen emergency. Companies need a risk management policy so that they can 1) communicate with staff in the event of a crisis, 2) fulfill duty of care obligations and 3) recognize and address the expanding range of dangers that come with increased business travel.

Contact Direct Travel to learn how we can help your company create a comprehensive risk management policy.

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What Does Duty of Care Mean and Who is Responsible?

In legal terms, duty of care is the obligation to not cause harm to someone, if it could have been foreseen and avoided. In corporate business travel, duty of care is a company’s legal and moral responsibility to their employees’ safety and well-being while traveling on company business. The person in the organization who overseas company travel — whether it’s the travel manager, a finance or procurement executive, an HR director or in some cases, an executive assistant — is the one who handles duty of care obligations. Since this important consideration has both safety and legal implications, the legal department and occasionally operations may also be involved.

What Should Be Included in a Travel Risk Management Policy?

To protect travelers and minimize company liability, key components of the policy should include:

Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Rules for pre-trip authorization
  • Preparation of travelers for their trips, customized to fit their needs for specific regions
  • Preferred or mandated travel partners (i.e. airlines, hotels, ground transportation) and booking channels with clearly stated consequences for non-compliance
  • Requirements for those traveling to high-risk destinations
  • Tools and resources available to travelers, with easy access
  • Identification of areas of concern
  • An effective way to quickly contact travelers, should an incident arise
  • Regulations regarding data management for sensitive company information, including procedures to safeguard data and if need be, mitigate data breaches and theft
  • Crisis response protocols for all types of emergencies, from lost luggage and missed flights to civil unrest
  • Procedures for communicating new information to travelers and, if needed, coordinating medical and evacuation efforts
  • Embassy phone numbers and other emergency contacts for each country and region where employees are traveling or working

During the Trip

  • Maintained visibility of travelers’ itinerary and travel plans
  • A strategy, such as support alerts and notifications, to inform business travelers about any specific and foreseeable dangers
  • Monitoring of threats in real-time and warnings of political unrest and potential terror attacks
  • An effective plan to deal with travelers’ medical emergencies
  • Information about air and ground travel, including measures to prevent lost property, stay in touch with suppliers and handle accidents
  • Notification of extreme weather events and natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes

Travel Risk Management 2020 Trends and Best Practices

Companies with robust global travel programs must be proactive in updating their strategy to anticipate and prepare for emerging risks of both domestic and overseas business travel. In the 2020s, there will be heightened concern in the areas of health, security and safety, both for traveling employees and for those who work abroad. These are the top 10 health and security threats that today’s organizations should be focused on.

  1. Geopolitical shifts that lead to challenges in travel and mobility
  2. Mental health issues are predicted to increase in importance
  3. Physical health of employees will require proactive measures 
  4. Cybercrime poses an increasing threat to companies’ security
  5. Climate change is forecasted to intensify environmental disturbances
  6. Infectious disease outbreaks are predicted to increase; due to climate change, urbanization, security instability and shrinking availability, and coverage of vaccines
  7. Bleisure travel popularity will continue to spark a debate as to whether leisure activities when combined with business trips should be covered under the umbrella of a company’s responsibilities
  8. New Millennial and Generation Z professionals will have different expectations, preferences and frame of mind regarding dangers
  9. High profile Duty of Care legal challenges are forecast to increase
  10. Start-up companies and small/medium-sized enterprises may find it increasingly difficult to meet their responsibilities to employees due to inexperience and limited resources

How can your organization prepare for what lies ahead, while continuing a travel program that is conducive to your business model? We strongly recommend that travel managers take immediate steps to update their risk management policy to reflect these trends and predictions.

How Direct Travel Can Help You with Your Travel Risk Management

With over 40 years of experience in travel management and corporate travel risk management, Direct Travel has the expertise to provide a range of corporate travel services to support companies and their employees. To protect your employees and support your organization, we offer our own Duty of Care services:

  • Comprehensive Travel Manager Dashboard
  • Corporate Traveler Risk Assessment
  • Access to Active Trip Disruption Statistics
  • Technology to Keep You Connected to Your Travelers

In addition, we partner with third-party vendors such as:

WorldAware – What is WorldAware? Formerly known as iJET, this company provides excellent intelligence regarding incidents occurring worldwide. You can monitor events, gauge their severity and communicate quickly with your people in that region during a crisis. This includes both awareness and analysis of developments that can impact your operations, accessible from any device.

ISOS – International SOS offers an integrated platform that includes Global Risk Management, with destination intelligence to provide assistance to business travelers; TravelTracker, with pre-departure information, traveler communication and management reports; and Manager Services, which lets companies handle all aspects of an emergency.

Focus Point International – The company provides worldwide assistance with health, safety and security on-demand advice, information and traveler tracking. They have fully-staffed 24/7 crisis response centers and global response teams, with medical, security, aviation and crisis response professionals in 130 countries.

Learn more about our TravelStack™ technologies and services for program management, cost savings, risk management and the traveler experience.

What Makes Direct Travel Unique in the Field of Travel Management?

At Direct Travel, we distinguish ourselves with the ability to create a unique solution for every organization. Smaller travel management companies may not have robust risk management programs, while the largest TMCs rely on pre-packaged solutions that might not be right for every company. By contrast, Direct Travel has the flexibility to recommend and implement a corporate travel risk management plan that’s custom made for your business.

Request a consultation to learn how Direct Travel can keep your team safe and your company protected from known and unknown travel dangers.