One of the most effective ways a business can help protect its travelers is by having a clear risk management policy in place. When employees follow the procedures, the company is better equipped to identify potential threats, keep track of where team members are located, and communicate with them during critical moments.
Although risk management tools and policies should be in place at the organizational level, there are also steps an individual traveler can take to protect themselves. Here are tips to share with your team to ensure they have smoother, safer, and more secure business trips.
Make a Checklist
Companies often have a risk management checklist that includes direction on pre-trip preparation, information about air and ground travel, and what to do in the event of a crisis. If your organization does not have a similar resource, consider creating one. It can be reviewed with travelers prior to their trip as a way of protecting them and minimizing company liability. A risk management checklist is a powerful tool to share not only with the travelers themselves, but also with any involved team members so that everyone is on the same page with trip details.
Verify (and Backup) Documents
Remind your travelers to renew their passports early, because some countries will not accept a passport if it expires within 6 months of the travel date. It is also best practice to take a photo of passports, confirmations, and any other important travel documents. If anything is misplaced or compromised, having a photocopy of the document will speed up the replacement process significantly.
Compile a List of Contacts
A traveler should have multiple ways to contact their supervisor and those involved in the trip planning process. This contact list could also include any business partners or clients they are going to meet with on the trip, as well as hotel information and any transportation services.
Beyond company contacts, provide travelers on international trips with the contact details for the nearest embassy or consulate. Most are available for emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Prep Any Devices
Encourage travelers to download the latest versions of company-approved mobile apps, complete with login information so they can access data quickly and seamlessly. They should also store a copy of their itinerary directly on their device for easy reference. A team member in an unfamiliar location might also consider downloading a map of their destination for use offline.
All standard precautions for digital safety should be followed on business trips regardless of location. This may include reminding travelers to keep company devices password protected, fully charged, and physically in their possession or in a safe storage area.
Pack the Essentials
A traveler needs to feel fully prepared when packing for a business trip, but they should also only pack what they need. Leave behind items that could be compromised, such as extra credit cards, unnecessary equipment, or excess business materials.
When choosing luggage, verify they have suitcases that lock and suggest they use the lockbox in their hotel room if they need to store valuables. Putting a tracking device such as an AirTag in each piece of luggage or equipment adds another level of comfort and security.
Lastly, extra chargers, cables, and portable batteries are worthy items to pack because they provide the traveler with an added sense of support and protection.
Don’t Stray from the Plan
Reiterate the importance of booking within policy to ensure employees stay in reputable and approved hotels. For example, this could look like utilizing the company’s designated car service rather than a ride share app.
Travelers should avoid deviating from their confirmed itinerary whenever possible. If anything in the schedule changes or if they find themselves in an unexpected location, it is important they alert the appropriate company contact immediately.
Stay in Communication
Remind travelers to communicate with team members while on the road. This is especially important if they, as mentioned above, need to deviate from the approved itinerary or if they run into any sort of dangerous situation. Encourage them to loop in a friend or family member as well. They might consider sharing their phone’s location with a few key contacts for an added layer of visibility.
Be Vigilant and Pay Attention
Travelers should avoid drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. One way to accomplish this is to focus on learning local cultural nuances. Not only is this a sign of respect, but it is vital for maintaining employee safety.
Team members should travel in groups whenever possible, but this isn’t always an option. Safety becomes even more critical if an employee is traveling solo or is a member of a group that could face unique obstacles when traveling on their own. This may include racial or ethnic minorities, women, or members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Business travelers should also follow all the “standard” travel tips such as locking their hotel room door, keeping their belongings on or near them, and never leaving their luggage out of sight. This advice is always recommended but is even more important when traveling to an unfamiliar or potentially unsafe destination.
Safety in Numbers
While there can always be unexpected hiccups along the way, following these tips ensures a traveler is set up for success and stays as prepared as possible.
Another way to ease the burden of risk management is to have a trusted travel partner in your corner. At Direct Travel, we provide risk management tools and support for teams of any size. We create a custom policy that fits your team’s unique needs, so you don’t have to handle the burden of risk management alone. Get in touch with our team to learn how Direct Travel can help keep your travelers safe and protected.