How do you track your travelers in an emergency?

In today’s climate, with heightened terrorism threats and natural disasters an all too frequent reality, being able to track your travelers quickly and effectively has never been more important. The risk of an emergency situation when traveling is ever present, so it is crucial not just to know where your employees are located, but also to have a process for contacting them and changing itineraries quickly when necessary to keep them safe.

The increasing popularity of sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak poses a challenge to any business trying to take reasonable precautions against foreseeable risk as part of duty of care requirements. You can’t stop the unthinkable happening, but you can put processes in place to show that you have done your best to protect your employees. One of those processes is ensuring the necessary visibility of your travelers.

The leading corporate online booking tools available to the market now continue to increase their content and competitive prices as well as regularly improving user experience. This means you don’t have to compromise in other areas in order to ensure full visibility of employees.

Key areas for consideration include:

  • Your duty of care
  • Employee tracking versus privacy
  • Ensuring two-way communication
  • Combining online and offline bookings for full visibility
  • So what is your duty of care to employees?

Duty of care is always a priority, especially when it comes to your employees traveling on business. It is strongly advised that you ensure both your business and employees are appropriately insured for any eventuality. This can be challenging as, unlike when an employee is in their home country, when abroad, an employee can be considered ‘at work’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the trip.

Most importantly a business must consider the risks that your employees might face in a particular destination, taking time to explore how the profile of the company or the traveler might add to the risk level. You then need to put considered processes in place to mitigate as much of the risk as possible and to educate the employees on every area that may become relevant.

A basic requirement is that you are able to proactively assist your travelers whilst they are abroad, which of course requires knowing where they are.

What if my travelers don’t want to be tracked?

Whilst many still see GPS tracking as a privacy issue, in 2014, a PwC survey of 10,000 professionals worldwide indicated that 30% would be happy for their employers to have access to their personal data. Remember: express written permission should be granted in all cases for full transparency.

One form of useful tracking that attracts no controversy is itinerary tracking. If you are using a Travel Management Company (TMC), they should feed all bookings whether online or offline into a central portal to give you complete visibility of your employees. The best TMCs will also provide this combined visibility for your international offices.

If GPS tracking is met with resistance and itinerary tracking is not comprehensive enough for your requirements, other options include a requirement for travelers to ‘check-in’ when they have arrived at various points, such as the airport or hotel. There are an abundance of apps and check in programs available but central visibility is key. This type of service should also be underpinned by an emergency response team.

Ensuring two-way communication

One key challenge with online is that your travelers may not speak to a travel expert at all in the run up to, or during, their trip. So how do you know that they have received the necessary advice?

A combination of approval processes for high risk areas, destination guidelines and proactive situation alerts are required to best equip your employees and protect your business.

In the event of a crisis, simply alerting your travelers won’t be enough. It is therefore critical that behind any good online booking tool you have a robust 24/7/365 service to support your travellers when they need it most.

A single, consolidated system

The best option to ensure continuity is to have a single system that you, your traveler and your TMC can access, collating all data from online and offline bookings and easily allowing a single report to be quickly exported with all of your travelers and their locations.

An advanced online system also means risks can be considered ahead of time, as well providing immediate alerts in real time. Some systems will surface key information on an app for travelers to keep them easily informed on the move and to provide an easy method of two-way communication.

What next?

If you would like support from an expert to conduct a Travel Risk assessment or to evaluate whether you are using the best travel tools for your business we’re happy to help, just get in touch.