High profile terrorist attacks since November 2015 in countries and cities perceived to be "Low" travel security risk destinations - Paris, San Bernardino, Tunisia, Jakarta, Ankara, and Brussels - have naturally led to an increased expectation from Business Travellers and expatriates (and indeed, local employees) that their companies will fulfill their Duty of Care responsibilities toward them, and will look after them when they are on company business. A recent survey of HR professionals and Business Travellers (October 2015) conducted by the Collinson Group identified some concerning statistics which point to the fact that this is not the case, specifically:
Only 38% of HR professionals questioned say their firm conducts risk assessments before an employee travels to a high-risk area for business, and of those who do, 58% rely on a simple Google search.
19% had no corporate travel risk partner or travel management company (TMC) in place.
Over half (55%) think their TMC provides medical and security assistance for employees abroad if an incident occurs and over 40% think these firms handle crisis management and response, when in fact they may not
52% of HR professionals think they are wholly responsible for their company's business travel policy and 12% say there is a blend of responsibilities with no overall ownership
Global business travel is on the increase as companies seek further afield for business opportunities. The World Travel and Tourism Council reported in their Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism 2015 report that Business travel spending globally was expected to grow by 4.0% in 2015 to USD1,222.3bn, and rise by 3.2% pa to USD1,679.0bn in 2025. This is a significant upward trend.
In this context, best practice in Travel Risk Management means that companies actively embracing a Duty of Care for their workers should:
PREPARE their employees for travel through Travel Security Awareness Training and pre-travel briefings, and the organisation needs to be able support them through comprehensive Travel Security Policies and Procedures which ensure travel is assessed, authorised and implemented effectively and safely.
Have the capability to TRACK their business travellers and can COMMUNICATE with them at any point in time.
Monitor developing risks and ongoing situations and INFORM staff and managers in a timely fashion of relevant developing threats.
Be able to provide expert ADVICE and local support when necessary.
Being prepared to RESPOND should they need to get them out of danger - either through internal means, or through an integrated Security and Medical Assistance provider.
If companies cannot put their hands on their hearts, and state that they have a robust Travel Risk Management Program in place to support their employees, then now is the time to start putting one in place and to take full accountability their key assets - namely their people.