Travelling to any new or unfamiliar destination carries a degree of uncertainty. As companies continue expanding into global markets corporate travellers are finding themselves coming face to face with the unexpected on an increasingly frequent basis. For this reason travel managers, now more than ever, are looking to their TMC to provide the assistance and support required to keep their people safe.
Today we are looking at 5 potential threats your travellers may face, and suggesting ways you can be better prepared to deal with them.
Political unrest and the outbreak of war.
No secret has been made of the fact that relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War. Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Palestine …the list of potential hot-spots goes on. Tension is increasing between Qatar and its neighbours, and the ongoing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Yemen is turning the Middle East into a smouldering tinderbox. Then there’s the threat of random terror attacks - areas previously considered safe are no longer immune to the threat of terrorist activity. A survey carried out by Ipsos Mori in October 2017 found that 58% of all changes to business travel itineraries were made due to security risks. Political unrest and the outbreak of war is something business travellers have always faced, so this isn’t a new phenomenon, however the speed at which situations can escalate now places additional pressure on travel managers.
What you can do:
Firstly check the foreign office website before confirming your trip. It rarely happens that a single event triggers an all-out war. The foreign office constantly monitors situations around the world and will advise on any risks or threats to travellers. No one can predict exactly where and when a terrorist attack will take place, however in order to be better prepared it is essential that you know exactly where all of your travellers are. In the event of an emergency you should to be able to identify those who might be affected immediately. Take advantage of the latest traveller tracking technology which will enable you to instantly locate your people, speak to your TMC for more information.
Hostility towards visitors and tourism.
Tourism and excessive commercialism has created a backlash in places where locals have been marginalised and priced-out of their home towns and cities. In some countries land has been confiscated to make way for tourist resorts leaving farmers and unskilled workers with no way to support their families. Unfortunately it’s not always obvious to locals who the tourists are and who is visiting on business, this has led to hostility towards all visitors in some places. In areas where commercialism has given way to job creation, such as the building of new factories or plants, and where locals have benefitted from a positive economic impact, business travellers are welcome. The introduction of companies such as Air BnB has seen investors buying up properties in cities all over the world. Investors then rent the properties to tourists, offering an authentic ‘live like a local’ experience. This demand for property has driven prices up to the point where locals can no longer afford to stay. Cities across Europe have faced protests from locals against gentrification, evidenced by the increasing amount of anti-tourist graffiti adorning the walls.
What you can do:
Avoid resort style accommodation options as these are generally favoured by leisure travellers and should be avoided in areas where tourism isn’t welcome. Avoid renting holiday homes or apartments, for the same reason. Instead choose business class hotels when confirming your accommodation, this will make you less of a target and will provide additional benefits such as a business centre and 24hr security.
Lone female travellers.
The GBTA recently polled travel managers to find out if female travellers were considered to be at greater risk when travelling than their male counterparts. 69% believed women do face a far greater risk than men, and yet of all those questioned only 18% had corporate travel policies specifically addressing this issue. One company polled claimed that it didn’t differentiate between men and women in its travel policy as this might be considered sexist, another said it might suggest they don’t take the safety of their male staff as seriously as the safety of their female staff. However, we are not talking about staff safety in the office, or how a business treats its staff in the workplace. We are talking about the very real risks women travellers face that men are far less likely to encounter. It is less likely that someone would follow a man back to his hotel room and then try to force their way inside. It is less likely that a unlicensed taxi driver with sinister intentions would try to pick up a man. It is less likely that a thief would target a single man, if a single woman was in sight. That’s not to say these things would never happen to a man, just that it is less likely. So it’s not sexist to say that women travellers face greater dangers when travelling, it’s just a sad but factual reality of the world we live in.
What you can do:
An immediate overhaul of your existing travel policy will allow you to include considerations such an increased focus on location of hotels booked for female travellers. How will your traveller get from the airport or station to the hotel? Has a transfer been arranged? Is the traveller happy to utilise public transport, or to find their own taxi? Does the hotel have an on-site restaurant or will your traveller have to go out to eat? Your travel policy shouldn’t restrict personal freedoms or discriminate, but it should take into account the unique challenges that your female travellers may face. If you are currently working with a TMC your account manager will be able to help you make amendments to your travel policy, strengthening your duty of care considerations.
We have already published several features relating to cybercrime, outlining various ways that corporate travellers can protect themselves when they are out of the office. Cybercrime continues its meteoric rise and we don’t see any signs of it becoming less of a problem. For evidence look no further than the sophisticated malware campaign now known as ‘Dark Hotel’. The software targeted luxury hotel chains and was designed to access the devices of executives from global companies staying there.
What you can do:
Ever heard of travelling incognito? The cybercriminal can only target you if you make yourself visible. Switching off the blue-tooth facility on your device immediately makes it harder for others to find you. Don’t log on to public Wi-Fi - we’ve all done it in a bid to avoid data roaming charges, but as you sit scrolling through social media sipping that venti cappuccino the hackers are potentially targeting you from remote locations. You can get more information on how to beat the cybercriminal here.
Lack of information
We were surprised to discover that a recent Mantic Point survey found that over 50% of business travellers claimed they hadn’t received any pre-trip information. It’s not just travellers suffering from lack of information, 80% of companies surveyed said they do not use GPS-enabled data for tracking employees meaning they have little to no visibility of where their people are, and only 20% of travellers said they had regular meetings and updates on their company travel policy.
What you can do:
If you are currently using a TMC then your account manager will be able to discuss the latest technology available to ensure your clients receive all their travel documents and any essential information prior to their trip. Traveleads has an app that allows travellers to keep their electronic travel documents in one place. The app also includes local destination information and useful travel tips. We also offer the latest traveller tracking technology – not to be confused with spyware technology, we’re not following your, or recording your every move, but in the event of an emergency it will help us locate you. We also offer fun , interactive travel workshops, where one of our experts will meet with you and your travellers to discuss ways in which you can make business travel an altogether more enjoyable experience for everyone.
The safety of our travellers is our number one priority. We use the latest technology and carry out regular reviews of our emergency processes to make sure that in the event of a crisis our teams are always on hand to deliver the assistance, support and care that your people rely upon. If you are an existing Traveleads client and would like to arrange a review of your travel policy please contact your account manager. For new accounts please contact firstname.lastname@example.org