Business travel is an important strategic lever for organisations of all kinds. Face-to-face meetings help secure new business, build teams and show a commitment to existing customers, which helps retention.
However, a business trip entails far more than just getting on an airplane. And in today’s climate, this also means that an organisation needs to have a travel security programme in place.
For the organisation, asking people to leave their loved ones comes with moral and legal duty-of-care obligations. For the employee, taking on any business trip requires a level of trust that the organisation takes their well-being and security seriously and has plans in place to mitigate or avoid risk.
The entire organisation is responsible for travel risk management. The travel manager’s role is to spearhead the development and management of the duty-of-care policies and plans aimed at traveller security that also addresses their safety concerns. This requires two interrelated efforts: 1) creating those plans and 2) communicating this business travel advice to travellers.
Egencia can help when it comes to travel risk assessment and mitigating high-risk travel.
Understanding travel risk tolerance and duty-of-care obligations
One of the travel manager’s first steps is to work with organisational stakeholders to understand the firm’s risk tolerance when it comes to business travel. Risk tolerance is more than weighing whether it’s a high risk to get on an airplane when a natural disaster, like a hurricane, is threatening a coastal zone.
As part of travel risk management, risk tolerance is a broader management concept. At a high level, it’s a framework for determining business travel risk assessment and how much risk is acceptable to achieve a desired outcome. For instance, entering an entirely new market is a riskier investment than incrementally advancing in a sector where you enjoy a strong established position. However, the upside reward could be substantial. How much risk are you willing to tolerate? Working through these issues and developing ways to mitigate the risk and amplify your strengths helps to create a strategy for making decisions. That includes deciding whether the risk is too high and that your time would be better spent focusing your efforts elsewhere.
Travel risk tolerance tailors this concept to corporate travel, creating a gauge for evaluating whether a trip should be taken. It also dovetails with an organisation’s duty-of-care obligations. This tolerance gauge can vary between individual business travellers.
For instance, a region with higher pollution may pose a greater risk to someone with a respiratory condition than another employee. You can mitigate the risk by sending one employee versus another. It can also involve systemic issues, such as monitoring areas that have experienced some civic unrest or other safety concerns. What conditions would constitute an acceptable risk of travel to that region? How are these considerations built into your corporate travel policy? These assessments need to include domestic and international travel and strike an appropriate balance between risk involved with business trips and business growth.
Traveller security policies use risk tolerance factors to understand, track and react to levels of risk in the world. Travel managers need to augment these policies with concrete plans for what to do in the event of an emergency to help their travellers stay safe.
Against that backdrop, travel managers need to communicate these policies and procedures to travellers as a foundation for building the required trust that the organisation stands behind the corporate travel security measures that are put in place. The first step in that communication is surveying your business travellers to understand their needs. Broad-based concerns and needs can be built into the travel risk management framework. Individualised concerns can become part of traveller profiles and data points when evaluating a specific business trip.
Travel managers should use all available means of communicating policies to employees. Interactive forums — like presenting at staff meetings — offer the opportunity to gather feedback, in addition to other one-way channels. In many cases, duty-of-care policy communication can be built into the booking tools so a traveller can be reminded of security policies and mitigation efforts within the context of an intended trip.
Egencia helps with duty of care at every step
Egencia brings extensive experience and resources in travel risk management that can help with setting risk tolerance frameworks and duty-of-care policies. Egencia can also help travel managers put traveller security guidelines into practice and keep travellers informed in real time of events and developments around the world.
Our booking tools can flag business travellers for any non-compliant bookings and guide them to compliant choices. That interface can also communicate appropriate traveller security information about a destination or itinerary. Travel managers can set the company’s duty-of-care policies in one place and instantly apply them across every booking channel.
Once a trip is underway, Egencia can push alerts to travellers to keep them informed of events and relevant information that can impact their plans. In an emergency, travel managers can locate their travellers with our Traveller Tracker for all travel booked through Egencia. That view can extend 30 days into the past for a specific travel destination to assess any safety concerns that could cause potential traveller impact from a retroactive discovery, such as a late-emerging public health issue in a region like coronavirus.