Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Concur’s Jon Richardson on implementing an effective travel risk management strategy
In today’s global economy, business travel has increased exponentially and with it the risks to employees. Business travellers are not immune to world events and as such, travel risk management has become an essential part of any corporate travel policy.
While major events dominate the news agenda, whether they are rallies in Istanbul or attacks in Tunisia, employers and employees can often get caught out by the every day. Take for example Julie Hamp, formerly of Toyota, who requested that her US-based sister send some pain medication to her in Japan. She was subsequently arrested as the medication in question is illegal in Japan and resigned from her role.
Companies often have plans in place for the ‘big stuff’, as of course they should, but duty of care legislation is far more wide ranging. Keeping employees safe is no easy task, especially when you have no control over the environment they are working in, as is commonly the case with mobile workforces and travellers.
In many situations, such as an employee running out of vital medication while on a business trip, time and communication are of the essence. Providing efficient and intuitive communication channels allows the employee to alert you of the problem so that you can take measures to ensure that the required medication can be sourced and delivered to them.
If your organisation can’t join the dots and make the right connections, your business risk is rapidly increasing with each passing minute. Many travel policies focus on enforcing corporate guidelines; are you staying in an approved hotel, within the budget limit dictated by your role/seniority and so on? Of course it is important to manage this expense, but avoiding operational and physical risks through applying an effective travel risk management strategy often is far cheaper than having to deal with the aftermath of an incident.
To do this effectively, however, it is essential to know where an employee is staying, their flight times and schedule while travelling. If all you know is that Joe Bloggs is flying to Schipol airport in the morning, what will you do if you need to contact Joe? Do you have his contact details or those of his hotel? Or will you need to wake HR in the middle of the night in order to obtain the number?
Extrapolating the problem out is that if you fly into Schipol, within an hour you can be in three different regions of the country. Where’s Joe? Do those different municipalities have variances in relation to Joe’s heart medication?
My point is that threats come in all different shapes and sizes. Life is unpredictable, and issues that are easily managed at home, such as running out of medication, can become very complex when we are travelling due to language barriers, access to medical professionals and cultural differences. All of these obstacles can cause the employee a significant amount of stress which in turn can create another range of issues.
That’s why data and insights are so important when it comes to proactive travel risk management. Effective risk management isn’t about crossing the creepy line and knowing an employee’s every move. It’s about having the right data and being able to use it in a way that is smart, proactive and also empowers employees to make the right choices when they are in an unfamiliar setting – something Julie Hamp would surely testify to. When it comes to ensuring employee safety, it’s the little things that matter.
Jon Richardson, Risk Messaging Specialist, EMEA, Concur