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More security on business trips: how to minimise risks

Business trips to distant destinations are part of the daily work in many companies. The risks involved and the issue of security are getting more and more important

Due to the increasing number of terrorist attacks, our society is facing a growing threat, which is also reflected in current survey results.

A study of the Ipsos MORI Institute showed that 71% of the respondents fear terror attacks the most, followed by the Zika virus (49%) and civil unrests (46%). But travel management is not only influenced by violence, crime and political riots: even in politically stable countries, medical emergencies, natural catastrophes or strikes can require the support for the affected employees.

Therefore for companies, a professional risk management strategy is obligatory in order to prevent fears, to increase the safety of travellers, but also to reduce subsequent costs. These costs can be caused, for example, by cancelled contract conclusions, additional overnight stays or changes in bookings.

For projects in crisis areas, specific safety aspects must be considered. This is also becoming more and more apparent to the people in charge: in 2014, 74% of German companies were concerned with business travel security, it is now 81%.

In this context, according to VDR’s current Business Travel Analysis, companies are offering information concerning data protection on business trips, communication with travellers in dangerous situations as well as health and prevention programmes.

Support is also provided by big business travel agency chains who offer a variety of security services. The offer can include foreign travel insurances, relevant information about the destination, traveller tracking (localisation via GPS-positioning) and emergency communication with the travellers via SMS or e-mail. These services are usually supplied as an additional service so that customers can select individual security modules according to their requirements.

If you want to take care of the increase in travel safety by yourself, the following points should be considered:

  1. Risk management: Identify a person who is responsible for the employee's travel safety and create a clearly defined risk management plan.
  2. Early planning: Identify potential dangers in the target country in time and find out about reliable accommodation and transport.
  3. Awareness-raising: Inform your employees about potential hazards and provide guidance on how to behave properly in critical situations.
  4. Emergency plan: Prepare yourself for possible crises to be able to react in a co-ordinated and rapid manner. Maintaining communication and organisation of support is just as important as the involvement of the affected person’s relatives.

There is, of course, no insurance against travel disruptions, but a professional monitoring of business travel should be self-evident. Above all, current information and assessments of risk factors can form the basis for a successful business trip and the protection of employees and the maintenance of business activity.

In 2015, 32% of the decision-makers have changed their business travel plans due to such risk valuations. Also in the future, travel will be increasingly concentrated on security requirements. The recently published Travel Risk Map 2017 from Control Risks and International SOS helps organisations to better-understand the risks in the markets where they operate and work by providing a comprehensive overview of risks. Knowing the risks at a destination and making appropriate arrangements is the best way for a company to protect its employees and ensure business growth.

Martin Bauer, Regional Security Manager for Germany and Austria at International SOS and Control Risks, states: “The incidents this year have led to a growing challenge for travel to places that have previously been rated as safe. Measures taken to mitigate these risks must be appropriated and oriented towards the actual risk rather than the general perception.”

From professional prevention to the right reaction - companies have to prepare their employees for possible dangers and integrate security into their travel management more than ever before.

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