Travel Risk Management Challenges for Small Programs and Large Ones Too!


Managing travel risk is important for all organizations, regardless of size. Investing in a Travel Risk Management (TRM) program helps your travelers avoid problems, ensures help is available if your travelers need it, and protects your organization from financial loss in the event of something happening.

Essential Elements of a TRM Program

While the elements of a TRM program are largely the same for all organizations, smaller organizations are more likely to struggle to understand the importance of a TRM program and have more challenges identifying an “owner” for it.

Most smaller organizations do not have a dedicated function or position responsible for travel, security or risk management. Instead, these responsibilities are divided up and assigned to individuals who have other core responsibilities. And often, these responsibilities are only assigned when there is a senior level champion, possibly the CEO, driving the need for a TRM program and securing buy-in from across the organization.

Once a passionate champion is identified, buy-in secured, and responsibilities assigned, the hard work begins. Before even beginning to develop a travel risk management policy, the organization needs to have a business travel accident (BTA) insurance policy in place. The BTA ensures a company has financial protection should an event occur and, just as important, assists its travelers when they need it. These two essential elements are core to any TRM program; if a BTA is not in place, the organization should obtain one and communicate to its people what the policy covers and how the BTA policy provides for assistance when it is needed.

With a BTA policy in place, an organization has the foundation for a basic TRM Program centered around response and financial protection. The next steps are to build out the program, to consider the tools and processes needed to help your people and your organization avoid problems, rather than just being ready to respond to them.

Some areas to consider as you build out and mature your TRM program, include:

  • Documenting policies and procedures – As part of your planning process, you need to define overall strategy, link policies to organizational goals and be sure to integrate your TRM program with your local crisis management plans and organizational emergency plans.
  • Training – Continuous development of team skills and knowledge is critical and should incorporate traveler training, travel advisor training and crisis management team training.
  • 24×7 monitoring – Forewarning is the best defense to mitigate the impact of an event. With around-the-clock monitoring of events and the ability to deliver near real-time alerts to those potentially affected, your organization and its people are best equipped to avoid or prepare for problems.
  • Incident response – Your employees need to have someone to contact day or night for help in cases of emergencies. An optimized TRM program should include a single emergency hotline backed by experienced crisis management and security experts and a service that is equipped to respond to support mitigation strategies globally, including traveler evacuation.
  • After-action review – Following any incident, it is critical to perform an after-action review to evaluate the incident, whether it could have been prevented, the effectiveness of response, and whether modifications to policy, procedures or mitigation strategies is needed.

Essential Elements of a Travel Risk Policy

A travel risk policy needs to address the three essential elements of a TRM program: 1) help the organization and traveler avoid problems; 2) provide help when the traveler needs it; and 3) protect the business from financial loss. In addition to addressing these, the policy needs to address its scope, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all those involved, including the traveler.

Here are the essential elements of a travel risk policy that should be addressed.

  1. Policy Scope
  2. Policy Aim and Objectives
  3. Roles and Responsibilities
  4. Travel Planning and Approval
  5. Travel Risk Assessment
  6. Incident Reporting
  7. Insurance

Overall, the objective of a travel risk policy is to help keep an organization and its people safe from harm and risk. By implementing the essential elements of a travel risk policy outlined here, you can help ensure the health, safety, and security of your travelers while protecting the organization legally and financially.

To learn more about the challenges small organizations face and to better understand considerations for building and maturing a TRM program, you can download this short article on Travel Risk Program Essentials from WorldAware.

In addition, “What Should be in a Travel Risk Policy?” posted August 16, 2019 in Security Magazine is a more detailed article on writing a Travel Risk Policy.

 

The mission of the GBTA Risk Committee is to educate and inform GBTA and its members as to the necessity of integrating risk management into their global travel and meetings programs.

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