The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

GBTA Risk Committee
GBTA Risk Committee
GBTA Risk Committee's Blog

Minimizing Risk for Pregnant Travelers

Pregnant travelers face numerous considerations that most travelers do not need to bear in mind. However, with planning and preparation, pregnant women can safely travel to most locations. Expectant mothers should schedule an appointment with a travel medicine specialist at least four to six weeks before travel. The travel medicine practitioner may need to collaborate with the obstetrician to coordinate care and ensure the best travel plan. For women in their third trimester, or those who will be overseas during their third trimester, consider locating a medical facility at the destination that can manage pregnancy complications, delivery, caesarean section, and neonatal problems.

Pregnant travelers, like all travelers, should ensure that they have health insurance that covers them while they are abroad. Be sure the policy covers pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and care of the infant if the baby is delivered overseas. Evacuation insurance, including coverage for pregnancy-related complications, is also recommended, especially if traveling to a remote area.


Because some vaccines carry the risk of side-effects that could potentially affect the fetus, carefully review the risks and benefits of each immunization. Ideally, all women who are pregnant should be up-to-date on their routine immunizations prior to pregnancy. In general, pregnant women should avoid live vaccines and becoming pregnant within one month of having received one; however, no harm to the fetus has been reported from the accidental administration of these vaccines during pregnancy.

If not previously received, the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended during pregnancy to protect women and provide antibodies to the newborn. This vaccine should be given in the second or third trimester. Pregnant women traveling during the influenza season at their travel destination should be vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine. This can be administered in any trimester and is especially recommended for those with chronic diseases and an increased risk of influenza-related complications. Individuals should consult with their physician before obtaining any vaccination.


Malaria can be much more serious in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. Malaria during pregnancy is associated with many complications including high rates of maternal and fetal mortality. Due to increased risk of severe disease, pregnant women should avoid or delay travel to malaria-endemic areas. If travel is unavoidable, expectant mothers should take precautions against mosquito bites and consider prophylactic medication.

Zika virus transmission can occur between currently infected pregnant women and their fetuses; research suggests Zika virus infection during pregnancy may result in “congenital Zika syndrome,” which describes a pattern of conditions found in babies infected with Zika virus in utero. These include microcephaly (an abnormally small head) and damage to the developing brain, eyes, muscles, and joints. Babies born with congenital Zika syndrome may not display all these conditions.

Pregnant women should take strict precautions against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects in areas that are endemic for arboviruses such as dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika virus, and tick-borne encephalitis. Preventive measures include use of bed nets, use of insect repellents, and wearing protective clothing.

Pregnant women are also more likely to acquire respiratory diseases and urinary tract infections. These illnesses may also be more severe in pregnancy. Pregnant women should ensure they are taking basic health precautions such as good hand hygiene.

Food and Water Safety

Pregnant women may be more vulnerable than non-pregnant women to dehydration after developing traveler’s diarrhea or other gastrointestinal infection. Pregnant women should strictly maintain hand hygiene and make prudent food and beverage choices. Pregnant women should only eat food that is cooked and served hot, and avoid cold food or dishes that have sat at room temperature. Expectant mothers should not consume undercooked meat or fish, unpasteurized dairy products, or anything containing ice. Only eat fresh fruits and vegetables that you have peeled and washed yourself. Drink only bottled and sealed beverages. Carbonated beverages are considered safer. Do not use iodine-containing compounds to purify water, as they could cause negative effects to the fetal thyroid. If diarrhea develops, drink plenty of safe fluids.

Environmental issues

Pregnant women may be more affected by air pollution than non-pregnant women. Additionally, as body temperature regulation is less efficient during pregnancy, temperature extremes may cause additional stress and heat stroke or heat prostration, or harm to the fetus. High temperatures may also cause fainting. Pregnant women should seek air conditioned facilities during extreme heat.

Travel to altitudes of 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) is usually safe, if ascent is gradual. A remote location and the possibility of dehydration pose a greater risk for the pregnant traveler. Planned travel to altitudes above 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) should be discussed with the travel clinic physician and obstetrician.

Transportation Issues

Some airlines have rules restricting travel toward the end of pregnancy. Know your airline’s restrictions. Some airlines require a letter from a medical provider stating that the woman is fit to travel and with the expected delivery date to confirm the length of pregnancy. Generally, international flight is not recommended after 35 weeks and domestic flight after 36 weeks. Some contraindications to airline travel during pregnancy include anemia and a high-risk pregnancy. While flying, pregnant women should wear the seat belt low around the pelvis; move around frequently, stretch, do isometric leg exercises, wear graduated compression stockings to help improve blood circulation; and drink non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration.

Most cruise lines restrict travel beyond 28 weeks of pregnancy, with some restrictions as early as 24 weeks. Some cruise lines require a letter from a medical provider stating that the woman is fit to travel and with the expected delivery date to confirm the length of pregnancy. Pregnant women should check their specific cruise line’s restrictions. Pregnant women on cruises should be aware of the risk of motion sickness, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disease, and the risk of falls on a moving vessel.

Looking Ahead: 2019 Travel Risks

With 2019 rapidly approaching, as the holiday season winds down, another year of corporate travel begins. Is your organization maintaining its Duty of Care legal obligation? Here are four items to think about for the upcoming year:

  • 24/7 healthcare and security support for your mobile workers
    • In order to operate and grow your business, your employees must travel and work internationally. This means they are often faced with environments that they are unfamiliar with. This level of uncertainty puts them at risk. Even a minor health or security issue, if unchecked, can quickly escalate into a more serious problem. Furthermore, your ability to respond to these risks, can ultimately impact your workforces’ happiness and morale.
  • Automated crises response
    • You know your people are affected by an incident.  You are immediately concerned about them. But you are not in the office. What do you do?
  • Address mental health issues
    • Life as a mobile worker can bring unforeseen stress and strain. Dealing with the complexity of business travel or life abroad can impact your mobile workforce's health and wellbeing. Having an emotional support service to your people when they are traveling or based in a foreign country is an integral part of an organization’s global risk management program.
  • Communicate with impacted people
    • Terrorist attacks, extreme weather, civil unrest. In a crisis, knowing where your people are and ensuring their safety can be a challenge. Having a Travel Risk Management partner can provide support in these critical times.

Having a Travel Risk Management partner  robust travel risk solutions that help organizations protect their people, meet their Duty of Care requirements and save money.

When Natural Disaster Strikes: Be Prepared and Stay Prepared!

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes don’t take travel schedules into consideration. Whether you are close to home or halfway around the world, it is important to always be prepared for when a natural disaster strikes.  

When a natural disaster occurs, infrastructure will be impacted and it can take days (if not weeks) before regular operations begin to stabilize. Businesses may be closed, fallen objects may block roads, air traffic may be halted, and power may be out in your area. Here are ways you can prepare yourself for when an emergency happens, whether close to home or while traveling.

  • Make a plan. Be sure to have an emergency plan in place that includes contact numbers for all family members, as well as an established meeting place should you be separated or unable to return home. Take into consideration needs that are specific to your family like medication, family pets, etc. when creating a plan. If you are traveling, attempt to evacuate in advance of an impending storm if possible. Waiting until the last minute to evacuate can lead to scarce flights options, a shortage of hotel rooms, and a dearth of rental vehicles. If you are unable to evacuate, be aware of the emergency plan at the hotel, meeting room, conference center, etc. and be prepared to follow that plan if necessary.
  • Stay in touch. Know how to quickly get in touch with your colleagues and loved ones and make sure they know how to reach you. Maintain a coordinated communication plan if you are separated and be sure to share plans should you need to move to a new location.  
  • Stay informed. Whether disaster strikes at home or while you are traveling, identify reputable, up-to-date news sources for the latest information. During an emergency, information can change from one minute to the next. Look to local agencies or news outlets for current response plans, closures, or evacuation information.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Make sure to have a well-stocked emergency supply kit on-hand to accommodate your family for up to three days and don’t forget to prepare a kit for your car, too. If you are traveling and unable to evacuate, stock up on water, nonperishable foods, and basic first aid supplies to keep in your hotel room.

On December 4th, 2018, the GBTA Risk Committee will be hosting a webinar focused on natural disaster preparation and response.  Please join us for additional information and practical strategies you can implement to be prepared and stay prepared when natural disaster strikes.

Travel Risk Management and Sustainability...Connecting the Dots

By GBTA Risk Committee and GBTA Sustainability Committee


How organizations manage the health, safety and security of their employees on business travel is not only part of their Duty of Care legal obligation, but also bears heavy influence on their GRI sustainability score. Corporate sustainability is an organization’s activities that demonstrate their work towards social, occupational and environmental concerns in business operations.

Having a Travel Risk Management program and partner not only provides robust travel risk solutions that help organizations protect their people, meet their Duty of Care requirements and save money, but it also helps to meet sustainable development goals and GRI reporting requirements.

It is important to work with a TRM partner, implement a holistic program, and report on how you are protecting your employees by providing solutions in a global environment; such as health consulting, promotion of worker health, and assisting employees with health and safety events while traveling.

Connecting the dots starts with understanding the lingo!


Key Sustainability Terms for a Holistic Travel Risk Management Solution:



Sustainable Development Goals




Sustainable Development Goals in Good Health & Wellbeing


Sustainability Report

How an organization reports what they've done to achieve goals




Global Reporting Initiative


GRI 403


Global Reporting Initiative on Occupational Health & Safety




Sustainability Accounting Standards Board




Sustainability Grading System



Food for thought:

“One out of every eight dollars under professional management in the United States in involved in socially responsible investing. That $3.07 trillion represents a huge pool of money that is being invested in companies that have been found to be sustainable.” – John Friedman (Huff Post, September 2017)

Do you know your company’s Sustainability goals and score?

The Risks and Rewards of Letting Technology Take the Wheel

Self-driving cars, no longer part of the future, will soon be here to stay.  According to Curbed, at least one rental car company plans to have driverless cars as part of their offering in the not too distant future.  With the addition of robotic driven vehicles to fleets, the corporate transportation landscape will dramatically change.

Many are hailing this innovation for its safety and convenience factors.  For those travelers arriving after a long haul flight, a self-driving car is a viable option. Another benefit allows for the driver to become the passenger and conduct business while on the road. The self-driving car would be a natural choice for the non-driver, a traveler unfamiliar with the area, or one that is ineligible to drive a rental vehicle.

How will self-driving vehicles impact ride sharing and black car ground transportation?  Theoretically, the driverless vehicles cancel the need for driver alcohol and drug testing, training and background checks.

Eventually this technology will impact the way companies manage rental car, fleet and ground transportation policy.  Insurance costs and rental car rates will be impacted.  VentureBeat predicts automakers will assume much of the liability.  The consensus is still out.  While the number of accidents are anticipated to decline and insurance premiums decrease, the estimated downturn in the volume of insurance purchased by individual drivers could adversely impact the insurance industry.  What additional liability will a corporation take on as driverless vehicles become part of their transportation program?  All factors to consider.

This is a very interesting evolution in transportation to witness, as the futuristic world of George Jetson becomes a world closer to reality.

Negotiating the Unique Concerns for Business Continuity and Risk Management When Senior Executives Travel

There are unique aspects and intricacies when C-Suite executives travel on business.  This entry is dedicated to providing a short overview of how Corporate Travel Managers can apply best practices to their own Executive Suite's business travel. 

There are vast differences between Executive Suite travel and other business travel. Just a few of the additional considerations include Executive family members, level of profile, recognizability, kidnap and ransom (K&R), and increased tendency to go off-policy. The challenges and inefficient resource utilization resulting from this behavior often causes travel managers to pause and reevaluate their own strategy. Let's uncover some reasons for non-compliance and review the effects of non-compliance that some of our travel manager audience might recognize. 

Causes of Non-Compliance with Travel Policy:

  • Minimizing the seriousness of threats
  • Personality, “The Commander’
  • Disagrees with risk assessment due to past experiences
  • Too busy
  • Special services, such as Executive Protection, are too expensive or draw too much attention

Effects of C-Suite Non-Compliance with Travel Policy:

  • Rogue booking results in absence of travel data and limits, or eliminates, communications and access to location intelligence
  • Last-minute travel detail discovery, or sharing, stresses multi-department resources who must quickly pivot to provide advice, secure immigration documentation and executive protection, perform hotel/destination safety assessment, and implementation of IT risk mitigation elements, etc.
  • Non-compliance by executive level increases likelihood others might embrace non-compliance

How Travel Managers Can Improve Compliance

  • Document concerns and behaviors (maintaining confidentiality)
  • Share concerns and behaviors with policy-abiding executive travelers and ask them to help you with the conversation
  • Have a conversation. The conversation will be better received if conducted citing genuine concern for traveler/other staff and family well-being and safety, as opposed to a hardcore discussion citing non-compliance
  • Conduct policy and resource training with the Executive Suite and their travel arrangers. Schedule regular EA check-ins
  • Host a Travel Risk Road Show to introduce Risk Intelligence and Security, Emergency Response and TMC partners and showcase their services (food and small giveaways will bring the crowds)
  • Promote, promote, and promote the program some more, using organization communication channels

In a later entry, we will share some proven strategies for mitigating these compliance risks, and for improving policy compliance amongst your company's Senior Executive group. The GBTA Risk Committee's resources include expertise negotiating these challenges from the perspective of Executive Protection, Corporate Travel Management, and Private Aviation. 

Evaluating a Travel Risk Management Program

If you or your company are new to the travel risk world, the vast amount of information available and the increasing number of companies that offer travel risk services can be overwhelming. Whether your organization currently offers a travel risk management program or is looking to create one, the below advice will help when it comes to evaluating it.

Begin with what you know – your company culture.

  • What policies and procedures will be accepted readily?
  • What policies and procedures will you need to push from the top down?
  • Does your company need to ease into a travel risk program?
  • Is your leadership all-in for creating a program?

Seek out mentors, colleagues, subject matter experts, and build a network of people you trust. Be their student, be willing to ask questions, listen, and admit you don’t have all the answers. Understand upfront travel risk management is about more than travel – it’s legal, human resources, health, security, finance and much more. Include these groups from the beginning. All of the viewpoints are different, and they all need a seat at the table. 

Every company is different and their approach to travel risk management will be different. Take the ideas that are a good fit for your organization and weave them together to create a cohesive program. As you do so it is important to have either an internal or external team of people to ensure the thread used to construct the program together is solid. Whether this team is an army of one or fifty, the important thing to remember is the employees, their families and the company are all counting the threads to hold when they need it.

GBTA also offers the Travel Risk Management Maturity Model™ (TRM3™), a free travel risk management evaluation which was created by some of the top travel risk management subject matter experts. Once you have completed the assessment, review the results and consider the organization’s internal acceptance and challenges of the results.

The TRM3™ is free to GBTA members and can be found here. Please contact the GBTA Risk Committee at if you have any questions.

Managing Kidnapping Risk

American organizations are at risk of kidnapping around the world – it’s vital they manage the risks.

Hostage US estimates that around 200 Americans are kidnapped overseas each year. Some are taken by criminals in countries such as Mexico and Brazil, some are taken by terrorists in the Middle East, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, while others still are detained by hostile regimes, such as Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. While many would be surprised to learn the scale of the problem facing American citizens, the exposure for American organizations is even greater, with some confiding they experience a dozen or more every year. 

Most cases don’t make the headlines; negotiators often opt to keep the case below the radar to avoid increasing the value of the hostage and to limit the number of phishing attempts by third parties keen to get a cut of the ransom payment. 

The types of organizations impacted have changed over the past decade or so. It used to be the case that journalists and aid workers could count on their mission to keep them safe – not anymore. Journalists and aid workers are taken alongside engineers, contractors, tourists and business executives. 

All organizations need to do the following:

  • Identify your risks and ensure you have the correct security and mitigation policies and mechanisms in place
  • Ensure travelers to medium- and high-risk locations receive detailed security advice about where to stay, how to travel, how to behave – and that they know who to contact should they experience a problem
  • Regularly train your crisis management team in how to respond in the event of a hostage incident
  • Train your HR and security teams together with legal and corporate communications in how to liaise with and support the hostage’s family during the incident
  • Audit your resources to ensure you have all you need to effectively support the family
  • Create a return to work plan for any member of staff or contractor returning from captivity – getting this post-release phase right can make all the difference to a former hostage’s chances of a smooth transition back to life and work
  • De-brief after the hostage incident has concluded – what did you do right, what would you do differently next time, and what lessons can you share with colleagues and partners to help them learn from your experiences

Kidnapping is a low-frequency, high-impact crime. It affects a broader range of American enterprises than ever before. There is much you can do to prevent it from happening, but if and when it does, it pays to be prepared. 

Safety and Awareness Support for Female Travelers

Nearly two-thirds of travelers today are women, reports the George Washington University School of Business. Many of these women travel solo for business, with the numbers doubling in the past five years. 

Today, all travelers face increasing risks but women specifically may face their own unique situations. Organizations must adapt to support the increase in women travelers and may need to provide additional training measures to adequately prepare and support women travelers so they can safely and confidently conduct business.

Organizations and employers should provide women travelers with appropriate travel safety and security advice specific to female travelers including:

  • Information on health concerns such as traveling during pregnancy and stress
  • Confidence and assertiveness training
  • Methods for coping when away from family
  • Proper clothing and accessories
  • Cultural and etiquette education for women
  • Geographical awareness and support to limit exposure to crimes against women
  • Emergency contact details, and communication channels and potential challenges
  • Airport arrival and departure times

In addition, the option to refuse to travel to a destination where the risk exceeds the traveler’s tolerance level must be offered and accepted.

While the majority of business travel experiences go off without a hitch, organizations should identify that female travelers may have different travel needs and be prepared to provide the appropriate level of care and support for those traveling alone or with other women.

The Korean Peninsula - How to Prepare for the Olympics

The following post is written by Matthew Bradley, Regional Security Director, Americas, International SOS on behalf of the GBTA Risk Committee.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing, there is much excitement around the globe, but also an underlying uneasiness, as Pyeongchang is only 50 miles away from the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea. The recent political tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have sparked many questions for the safety of those attending the Olympics and organizations sending their employees. Here are five key strategies for preparation if you find yourself at the Olympics:


  1. Stay Aware of the North Korea Threat: Tensions have cooled lately, but this will likely last only for the duration of the games. The underlying drivers of tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain unchanged:
    • North Korea has intensified its provocative actions since leader Kim Jong-Un took power in 2011 and Pyeongyang remains committed to advancing its nuclear and missile delivery capabilities.
    • As such, tensions will remain high on the Korean Peninsula throughout 2018.


  1. As always, Remain Alert for any Terrorism Threats: So far there have been no specific threats against the Olympics – either from international terrorist groups or their sympathizers. Although the high-profile nature of the Winter Olympics has led the authorities to increase the terrorist threat alert, the country is not high on the list of Islamist extremist targets, and South Korea has strong anti-terrorism capabilities.


  1. Be Alert to Social Unrest: High-profile events such as the Winter Olympics present an attractive platform for special interest groups to highlight their concerns, but  there are currently no specific protests planned during the Games. It is important to have access to reliable local information to know if demonstrations are planned. 


  1. Stay Vigilant to Avoid Petty Crime: As with all international travel, foreigners can be targeted for petty and opportunistic crimes; such as pick-pocketing or purse snatching in crowded areas. While South Korea is generally safe, it is important to remain alert to your surroundings. Additional police officers will be present around the Games, with designated crime prevention zones around the venues.


  1. Pre-Arrange Transportation with a Local Driver: It is important to pre-arrange a car with local driver, as well as utilize the free shuttle buses around Games venues.
    • When hiring taxis, it is useful to have the destination name written in Korean. You should prepare some cards with common destinations like the Olympic venues and your hotel in advance.
    • In the event of a road accident, it is best to remain at the site and let the driver report the accident to the police and insurance company.
    • Travelers should phone emergency contacts to request any support required.


Although overall risks in South Korea during the Olympics are low, organizations should provide security training designed to help their travelers mitigate, manage and respond to daily risks and situations described above. It is important to establish sound security protocols that allow for efficient preparation to protect travelers. Following these simple mitigation measures can ensure a safe and enjoyable time at this sporting spectacle.