The Five Pillars of Travel Risk Management

Over the past three weeks, we’ve witnessed an array of devastating attacks, from the Manchester Arena terrorist attack which killed 22 people and wounded 116 to the twin attacks in Tehran that left 12 dead and 42 injured. If your business travelers found themselves in the face of these tragedies, would you be able to contact them or guide them to safety? A sound travel risk management program would have an all-encompassing duty of care strategy and crisis management process to identify the business travelers involved in these situations and protect them from harm.

The GBTA Europe Risk Committee recently convened a webinar to introduce the essential building blocks of a travel risk management program and outline the liabilities which may follow from an organization’s failure to fulfill duty of care responsibilities. Duty of care encompasses a range of responsibilities the travel manager must assume to protect their business travelers from harm. Although this certainly applies to unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters and the aforementioned attacks, managers must also prepare travelers to mitigate more commonplace risks like laptop or passport theft.

The five pillars of travel risk management consist of the following:

  1. A business travel health, safety and security policy. Most companies already have a safety and security policy in place, but every company needs a specific set of policies around business travel.
  2. Travel safety and security information. Companies must base their advice off of reliable travel information, both of which should be relayed to travelers before they embark on a trip.
  3. Restrictions on travel to higher risk countries. You must have a plan for controlling travel to high-risk countries. Companies may define high-risk differently based on their corporate risk appetite.
  4. Knowing where your people are. In the case of a safety, security or health incident, you must be able to reach out to your travelers to ensure their safety and offer support.
  5. An incident and crisis management plan for when things go wrong.

One challenge that companies face is getting high level management involved in ensuring compliance. Committee members suggested educating senior level management on the high risks associated with travel, since the responsibility falls on them to ensure employees have the right level of information and are safe at all times. Furthermore, senior management should be informed of the risks that they themselves would be prone to in case something happens to an employee while traveling abroad.

Another key issue is managing risk in the case of travel to challenging environments. The GBTA Europe Risk Committee recommends having an exception management process to govern the way risk is managed in these situations. After initially evaluating the risk, you should be able to identify mitigation measures and determine whether the risk has been obliterated or reduced significantly. In the event that there is a remaining risk component, employers must be proactive in disclosing the associated travel risks to employees. There must also be firm acceptance and acknowledgment from the employee in such cases.

Travel risk management is ultimately about doing the right thing by protecting your most valuable assets. An overview of travel risk management (TRM) and why every organization needs a TRM program is available for GBTA members here.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

  • Balancing Traveler Satisfaction with Program Compliance (Tuesday, June 13 – 2:00 PM ET)
  • Hotel Rate Auditing: Don’t Leave Money on the Table! (Wednesday, June 14 – 10:00 AM ET)
  • Insider Tips to Maximize Your Convention Investment (Thursday, June 15 – 11:00 AM ET)

The full schedule of webinars is available here.