It’s impossible to mitigate all risk from business travel. And, as companies expand to new markets, the risks for business travellers will only increase.
Threats to travellers come in different shapes and sizes, from political unrest and terrorism through to car accidents and health scares. The challenge for travel managers is to be prepared and ready to help – whatever the situation.
While 50% of surveyed travel managers said handling pressure is a required skill, 40% also recognised that dealing with issues remotely or briefing travellers is a major problem.
On top of this, many travellers simply don’t believe their organisation is prepared to help if an emergency happens when they’re travelling:
- 54% of travellers don’t have a specific contact number to use in an emergency when abroad
- 36% aren’t confident their organisation would give them the right information during an emergency when abroad
- 22% don’t even know who they should notify if a crisis does happen
So what can be done? Here are 5 ideas to help you prepare for times when business travel goes wrong – before colleagues even set foot out of the office.
#1 Offer training sessions for travellers
The purpose of training sessions is to inform all employees what they need to know about dealing with emergency situations. It’s an ideal time to communicate travel security policies and the latest guidance on communication. Sessions can also focus on specific issues. For example, if there are specific local risks from insects and wildlife, let them know before they travel, so they can spot the signs.
If employees can’t attend in-person training, record sessions and create e-learning videos that they can watch on-demand.
#2 Provide pre-trip briefs on current risks and threats
Send tailored short summaries of current risks before an employee leaves for a business trip. Even if they’re going to a low-risk destination, this information will ensure they know what to expect.
Send updates to travellers that are in the same location for more than a couple of days, in case there are any situations that developed while they’re away. If you have too many traveller to handle this on your own and you have a travel management company, work with them to make it happen. Or use a tool like booking.com/business to keep on top of where your travellers are at all times.
Even if the status of a location is the same, updated reports will reassure travellers that nothing has changed.
#3 Keep employee contact records up-to-date
If the worst happens, you need to be able to get in touch with employees. Keeping employee contact records up-to-date sounds obvious. But it’s the type of information that has to be ready, if an emergency happens.
To take this a step further, implement a traveller tracking system, so you know where all employees are staying, at all times. Facebook now has a feature called Safety Check, which is activated when a major incident happens. It allows people in the affected region to let their network know they’re safe.
#4 Give clear emergency points of contact details to your travellers
Share emergency contact details and consider reissuing this information for each trip an employee takes. It might feel like overkill for frequent traveller, but it means they’ll always have up-to-date points of contact.
Also, make it clear to all travellers how you plan to contact them in an emergency. As part of this process, include guidance on what will happen if there’s no available internet or mobile networks.
#5 Include travel security as part of your travel policy
Develop a travel security policy, which is included in the travel policy and communicated to all employees. Don’t just focus on travel security for risky foreign locations. Include guidance for domestic travel.
As part of this, include an incident management plan. This will allow you to plan for, avoid and respond to crisis situations.
Communicate and share your travel policy with colleagues by using the visual travel policy tool built by Booking.com for Business. It was created to help travel organisers communicate their travel policy effectively with colleagues, including all essential travel advice and guidance.