Companies have increased their risk assessments of business trips following the Paris terrorist attacks.
A session at the Business Travel Show in London, moderated by BBT editor Paul Revel, heard that clients had been re-examining their policies and duty of care responsibilities since November’s atrocities in the French capital.
Colin Pereira, head of high risk security for TV news broadcaster ITN, said: “A lot of businesses since Paris have been phoning us up to ask: how do you do this? How do you assess 30,000 trips per year?”
John O’Sullivan, managing director of TMC Key Travel, added that a survey of its clients had shown a “sensitivity about travelling to Paris or Brussels and about going to any big city in the UK”.
“The immediate change is that clients are looking to understand what the risk is and their duty of care,” he said. “They are also looking more longer term at the development of a plan which looks at what they can do to make a difference.”
One buyer said that since the Paris attacks the company had started doing assessments on every trip within Europe, which she said was “taking a long time and alienating staff”.
ITN’s Colin Pereira said it was important to distinguish between the “reaction to an emergency and understanding risk”.
“Organisations think that having a reaction to an emergency is a risk assessment but that’s not the case,” he said.
“Traveller tracking doesn’t tell you what the traveller is doing. You know where they are going, where they are staying and the flight but you don’t know what they are doing, unless they put it in an email.
“Risk assessments have to ask this question but traveller tracking and the emergency plan doesn’t do that. It’s too much hard work to ask these questions – that’s where the gap is.”
Matthew Judge, group managing director of the Anvil Group, agreed that travel tracking alone was “not a panacea” but one of the components of managing risk.
“People have become more aware of risk these days since 9/11 because it was the most significant event that we all got to witness first-hand through the media and was broadcast into our living rooms,” he added.
Judge said that travel safety policies had to be designed with “guiding principles” which takes into account the organisation’s duty of care responsibilities, as well as their individual “tolerance of risk” when employees travel.