Keeping your travellers as safe as possible is a travel manager’s priority. Yet with ever-evolving challenges, from geopolitical events and the effects of climate change to cyber security and the threat of misinformation, how can you keep one step ahead and achieve peace of mind that your travellers are safe and secure?

Our latest webinar Beyond Duty of Care – ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your global workforce takes a look at global health and travel security trends, what organisations should consider when assessing risk, why travel risk management is important and how to integrate the ISO 31030 standard into your travel risk management strategy.

Reed & Mackay’s Senior Vice President, Global Strategy and Consulting US Deanne Dale was joined by risk management specialists International SOS Regional Security Director Northern Europe James Wood and Regional Medical Director EMEA Consulting Solutions Dr Anthony Renshaw, to delve into the finer points of travel managers’ responsibilities around duty of care in business travel.

Intelligent information

International SOS conducted an IPSOS Mori poll to determine what factors would impact critical decision-making in travel risk management in the next 12 months.

Top of the poll was the access to reliable, trustworthy, apolitical information and how best to share that information with colleagues.

“Analysis informs your planning and should be forward leaning as well as reactive,” Wood says. “Do you have reliable trusted information, is the company investing in resources to get that information? Do you understand the risk exposure based on profile and locations of operation? And then it’s about how you disseminate that information to both your company’s C-suite and to employees.”

Geopolitical risk mitigation

From the war in Ukraine to protests and activism across different parts of the world, plus secondary and tertiary effects of the pandemic, travel health and safety is continually evolving. A key piece of advice Wood and Renshaw give to travel managers is to plan for the unexpected and have contingency plans in place; travellers are now looking for more support. From ensuring early warning systems are in place to educating employees on risks, work towards building a culture of care.

Keeping reality in check

“When you survey the average traveller, their perception is based on what they see in their newsfeed and perhaps they’re not aware of realities on the ground,” Wood adds. “For example, did you know that for every security-related incident reported there were seven health-related incidents?”

How can security risks be assessed in a destination? Consider whether it’s low, medium or high for both security and medical risk. Renshaw explains further: “Our learning from the pandemic is that the state of play is not the same in one part of a country as in another,” he says.

Keeping on top of cyber security is also becoming a recognised reality. This is where education of your travellers is key. Ask questions such as have they considered the Wi-Fi available, whether they’re using hotspots and consider where they are charging devices in publicly accessible places.

Climate change

Wood and Renshaw point out how climate change has come up for the first time in recent years for travel managers assessing risk factors.

“Climate change and other forces are increasing health risks with wide-ranging impacts,” Renshaw says. “And more than half of the survey respondents reported they were factoring climate change into health and security plans over the next 12 months to some or a great extent.”

Health mitigations

International SOS recommended that travel managers consider the risk to travellers’ mental as well as physical health, taking steps towards best practice for mental health promotion. These include elements such as understanding the working conditions within your organisation and focusing on upskilling line managers with the knowledge, resources and conditions to manage stress in others.

duty of care

The panel was asked for its advice on how much should organisations be responsible for duty of care to those employees embracing the trend of ‘work anywhere’.

Wood agreed it’s a challenge and a trend that continues to grow. “As well as presenting organisational challenges around tax implications, it’s also raising questions around health and safety, what are those obligations and with whom do they sit,” he says. “It’s a challenge that has yet to be codified, but key factors will be education, information and continued support from organisations.”