Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, the Zika virus. The world has been hit by international disasters and occurrences in recent years. But the business goes on to keep the economic wheel turning, and the statistics support that. A study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that business travel spend in 2015 was a record-breaking US$1.25 trillion. A further 5.8 percent growth is projected by 2019.
The onus is on companies to keep their travellers safe and to implement a risk management plan that will minimise risks for the traveller, execute contingencies that will not disrupt events, and manage costs for the organisation.
To ensure safe travel, Bertrand Saillet, general manager of FCM Travel Solutions South East Asia, shares important guidelines.
1. Travel risk management for your organisation
Collaboration among departments such as HR, legal, security and procurement is crucial in ensuring a comprehensive duty of care policy that addresses the social and ethical issues of responsible travel management.
Questions to ask include:
- Are there policies that have been clearly spelt to protect both the traveller and the employer if something untoward were to happen?
- Are other external organisations that are part of this programme that can complement crucial aspects of this programme, such as travel arrangements, medical assistance, accommodation, transportation, etc.?
- Are employees able to easily access the information in this programme and are they aware of how it affects them?
- Is there a system in place for organisations to track their business travellers while they are overseas as an additional measure to monitor the safety of their travellers?
2. Educate your business travellers
Travellers may not also be privy to the do's and don'ts involving an overseas business trip. It serves the company well to include online awareness courses on general travel risks, how to avoid and reduce medical risks, specific country preparation and intercultural training as well as pre-trip destination risk assessments among others.
3. Use technology to your advantage
One emerging trend is the use of mobile apps to help business travellers access real time information regarding their trips. Saillet adds: "For example, upon leaving the airport and getting onto a taxi, a travel management mobile app could possibly tell the traveller what roads to avoid, to ensure smooth travel to their next location. Travel apps such one from FCM Travel Solutions allows participating clients' employees to "check-in" at a location, so the company is able to identify where their employees are which could be crucial in high-risk locations.
4. Moving Forward in Business Travel
This requires companies to keep up to date with new sensitivities as travellers are more aware of their rights to protection. Travel management policies should be reviewed to ensure robust risk management plans.