How to Explain Risk to Business Travelers

Educating travelers about risks on the road is an important part of duty of care. An engaged traveler is an aware traveler. It's often easy to forget that the conditions we experience in our daily lives are not representative of life in other cities and countries.

When travelers go on business trips, they may face confusing laws and customs as well as possible personal safety concerns. Understanding the unique risks that accompany each business trip is the first step in promoting a strong duty of care policy. What are the best ways to have such conversations with your employees?

1. Don't get shrugged off

Often, for myriad reasons, travelers don't want to talk about the subject of risk. It's not only a dry subject but also one that many travelers believe they are already familiar with. As a result, efforts to advise travelers of potential risks can turn into nothing more than a box-checking exercise.

That's the opinion of self-defense professional and frequent business traveler Tony Willis. Speaking with Business Travel IQ, Willis noted that, in his experience, busy business people often don't want to take the time to sit down and really listen to a risk assessment. They assume they already understand the risks and just want to sign the paperwork so they can move on.

2. Tell a compelling story

To capture traveler attention, HR leaders and travel stakeholders need to craft a narrative that facilitates the goals dictated by policy. A scenario-based presentation is more likely to stick with travelers, compared to a presentation of dry facts and statistics. By using stories to convey travel risks, employees can imagine themselves in the scenario and therefore retain the information more easily.

3. Provide educational materials

On the road, risk can come in many forms, including illness, physical violence, acts of nature and terrorism. Travelers must be made aware of the unique risks that accompany each trip. For example, members of the LGBTQ community may need to exercise caution when entering countries where LGBTQ discrimination is common. According to our partner, Mantic Point, over 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality, and punishments vary in severity.

Meanwhile, female travelers face increased risks of violence compared to men, even in the U.S. Therefore, traveling women may need to consider different transportation options. For example, it may be safer to rent a car, compared to taking a taxi or using a ride-sharing service.

To keep everyone informed, travel managers should deliver detailed travel safety information to travelers well in advance of their trips. Companies should also update documents regularly so that they describe current conditions in frequently visited destinations. When a last-minute trip appears on the schedule, HR can simply forward the relevant information. This approach also gives travelers time to make special arrangements and ask follow-up questions long before departure.

A travel management company can help you to develop a strategy for increasing traveler engagement with risk assessments. For example, the communications described above can be automated. For more information, check out our Trip Brief.

Managing travel risk responsively

Stories make travel risks more relatable, but they are more difficult to collect than putting together a slide deck that lists potential risks. HR, travel managers and travel management companies should work together to leverage existing traveler data and craft stories that speak to relevant risks. That said, these travel stakeholders should always consider the privacy of the traveler whose story they're recounting. The stories should not be so specific as to divulge personal information about travelers or make listeners uncomfortable. The goal is to share enough that your audience is engaged, informed and ready for their upcoming trip. 

To learn more about managing travel risk, check out our Navigator blog post: Travel Crisis Management: Preparing for an Emergency.

Travel Crisis Management - Preparing for an Emergency Blog Post