It’s thought that 85% of travel programmes now include risk management protocols. This stat is no surprise when you consider the increase in security risk across the world.
In the UK alone, there were 304 terrorism arrests in the month to March – the highest since 9/11. Figuring out who’s safe to travel and who might be at risk is an increasing challenge for every risk manager.
Risks that define travel policies
Some risks are so significant that they can shape the travel policy itself, for example the threat that emerged in 2016 from the Zika virus. Travel managers need to familiarise themselves with the tools and policies required to protect business travellers and deal with any repercussions for one particular gender.
It’s a similar story with the geopolitical environment. Turkey, for example, last year experienced its worst summer in twenty-five years for tourism following a military coup.
These elements all lend to the perception of increased risk, which demand travel policies become more dynamic and capable of adapting should the unexpected happen.
The 5-point checklist for dealing with increased travel risk
Despite the various risks faced by business travellers, the tactics required to reduce them remain largely unchanged. You simply need to apply modern thinking to standard policies, as we’ve done below in our 5-point checklist for dealing with increased traveller risk:
1. Encourage employees to take health precautions
If your travel policy is flexible enough to address area-specific health threats, employees will need to be equally proactive in taking their own precautions. Ensure travelling staff have access to the health information they need before travel so that appropriate vaccinations can be undertaken.
2. Develop an evacuation policy
The risks faced by travellers are increasingly unpredictable, which is why businesses are starting to implement evacuation policies for dealing with emergencies. Employees need quick access to the appropriate contact numbers, and those at home left with the detail they’ll need if something goes wrong.
3. Embrace foreign cultures
The smallest hand gesture, a pointed finger or use of a certain phrase may land travellers in hot water if they haven’t done their homework on cultural differences. To mitigate risk that stems from potential culture clashes, travelling employees need to be given the time to research how clients or suppliers in other countries do business.The ability to immerse oneself in a foreign culture will greatly reduce travel risk.
4. Understand the specific needs of your travellers
Zika is an example of a travel risk that affects a tightly-defined demographic, but there are other airborne viruses and cultural differences that will pose a greater risk to specific individuals.
Once a general risk assessment has been undertaken, travel managers need to dig deeper and identify potential risks that might impact pre-existing medical conditions, personalities or faiths.
5. Raise awareness about cyber security
Travel risk also resides within the digital realm, and employees must understand the importance of being vigilant against cybercrime while travelling. A study by Trustwave discovered that 38% of data breaches occurred in hotels, so encourage the use of firewalls, VPN tunnels and ensure staff keep all of their devices up-to-date.
The world is changing, and so is business travel risk. Is your travel policy dynamic enough?