Thomas Jefferson once said: “With great risk comes great reward.”
Nothing is truer in today’s business travel environment. You can hardly open a newspaper today without hearing about political unrest or natural disasters happening somewhere in the world. Companies requiring that employees travel to other countries must have strong travel security programs to protect both personnel and corporate information. The term is duty of care in travel risk management. Duty of care is a critical and ever changing aspect of business travel. Duty of care is about managing risk for the entire business trip. There is only one way to eliminate the risk of business travel, but, since staying home is typically not an option, duty of care strategies are an essential part of your travel policy.
Sending employees to foreign countries on behalf of business can result in lucrative new markets and offer exciting experiences for the traveler. Since 2001, however, there have been a number of international incidents, for example, attacks in London, Madrid, Mumbai and Boston. We actively flew clients home during the Icelandic ash cloud that grounded flights across Europe in 2010, and volcanic ash that stopped passengers on their way to Alaska. We’ve faced earthquakes, tsunamis and the nuclear crisis in Japan, just to name a few.
Keeping employees safe now involves much more than it did even a few years ago. It starts with having a mechanism for knowing where your traveling employees are at any given time. Similarly, companies should have in place a communication plan when faced with possible emergency situations. Many firms limit how many members of their management team can be allowed on the same flight to mitigate any risk if something were to happen to that one flight. While unpleasant to consider, risk is an important aspect of travel for which every company must be prepared.
Following are just a few guidelines to consider when implementing a duty of care plan:
Have your traveling employees read the U.S. Department of State’s country-specific information for each country they will visit to get information about the availability of medical facilities, U.S. embassy locations and other safety, health and logistical issues they may need to know about. It is also a good idea for them to register their visit to places of concern with the U. S. Embassy in that country of travel. I did that a few years ago when I traveled to Jordan. I never needed to use it, but the peace of mind was priceless.
Technology is important when it comes to being able to be in touch with traveling employees 24/7/365. For communication purposes, make sure all mobile devices have backup batteries and power chargers. There are some powerful travel device chargers available now, such as Power Monkey eXtreme.
Working with a travel management company that has access to a 24-hour service is also important when faced with trying to find traveling employees in times of emergency, just in case that technology fails for some reason.