Donald Trump is embarking on a mission to make good his campaign promises.
You would have to be living in a bunker not to know that the American president has signed a 90-day executive order prohibiting entry by people holding passports from one of seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
It was quite a simple order with a far from slick implementation. The immediate aftermath of its clumsy execution demonstrated how far-reaching the repercussions might be.
There are some obvious consequences for suppliers. Airlines will bear the costs of administering the new entry rules, refunding fares for flights booked by those no longer able to travel to the US and re-doing flight rosters to ensure that vulnerable crew are shielded from possible detention.
The effects on corporate travel programmes are far from clear and could be very widespread.
It is not only the travel industry that employs people from the global labour pool. The technology industry relies heavily on skilled labour from the Middle East and Asia. Google immediately recalled all its employees that were travelling and ordered them back to the States. Better to be in the US for the 90-day period and working than stranded abroad and not working.
The move carries a huge human cost and could affect companies' recruitment policies, but think about travel policies. Job specs may change to exclude international travel. The general wisdom is that employers should not require employees who are citizens of the affected countries to undertake business outside of the United States because there is no guarantee that they will be able to get back in.
Business travel has always been undertaken to meet corporate objectives. Trump's move means that an external arbiter can decide who can or cannot travel on business to and from one of the top business destinations in the world.
But the responsibility for administering the new rules will rest with travel managers.
Requirements for traveller profiles and pre-trip approval processes will need to change and there will inevitably be duty of care implications. The detention of a business traveller certainly affects traveller welfare and well-being and probably opens up safety and security issues as well.
Such government capriciousness reinforces the message that there can often be external factors, out of the direct control of any company, which can affect travel cost — and policy. This new policy on its own demands that there be a mechanism in the pre-trip approval purpose to ensure that the traveller him or herself is able to travel. That means either circulating up-to-date travel information or holding personal data such as religion — remember that those from minority religions, ie Christians, in these countries were excused from this legislation.
There are both cost and duty of care implications of someone who the company might need, and expect to be able to, travel not being able to. This will add complexity to the process and possible cost because of the consequences.
It is where machine learning and AI could really help — not hinder, not replace — travel managers.