In light of the tragic terror attacks that occurred in Paris and California, let’s take this opportunity to revisit the importance of traveler security.
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 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 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. There have been attacks in London, Madrid, Mumbai, and most recently in Paris and Mali. We actively flew clients home during the Icelandic ash cloud that grounded flights across Europe and stopped passengers on their way to Alaska. Travelers have faced earthquakes, tsunamis, and the nuclear crisis in Japan, and more.
Large organizations are more likely than smaller organizations to include several features in their risk management protocols. These are pre-travel information to prepare travelers, automated communication about real-time risks, and local providers for medical and security services. These features may be related to duty of care.
Today, keeping employees safe 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 the number of their management team allowed on the same flight to mitigate any risk. While unpleasant to consider, risk is an important aspect of traveler 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 be visiting 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 stay 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 Co. 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.