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Blog 12 November, 2021 Back

The role of travel risk management (TRM) is more important than ever

Becky Malcolm

Anvil-Group-Riskmatics-Traveller-Tracking

TRM is a comprehensive, consistent and proactive approach to protecting your people and your organisation from travel risks.

The new ISO 31030 Travel Risk Management Guidance adds much needed definition in this area. Aimed at any organisation who has travelling employees, the guidance lays out explicitly what should be expected of organisations with their duty of care provision for the health, safety and security of their travelling workforce. It covers risks to everything from data, business continuity and reputation to legal, financial and HR operations.

As we settle into new ways of doing business, the attitude of travellers has changed, instead of thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ it’s now ‘it might happen to me’.

People travelling on business, whether international or domestic, can be faced with unfamiliar situations that have different risk profiles to those of their normal location. Natural disasters, disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, terrorist attacks, civil conflict, crime and cyber threats can threaten the safety, security and health of travellers.

Pre-planning is now vital.

There is far greater emphasis on the pre-trip due diligence process before travel starts, to understand the various elements of the trip and how organisations are going to mitigate risk at each of the key stages. From anticipating and assessing the potential for disruption, developing response plans and then communicating anticipated risk exposures to travellers as part of “duty of care” to employees.

Organisations will need to look far more closely at the destination countries their travellers are visiting. Regions previously deemed ‘safe’ travel zones may now present a potential health risk in a way that they didn’t before, and organisations need to allow the time to understand the situation fully and undertake additional due diligence measures prior to any trip commencing.

This includes looking at the mental and physical health of an employee before they travel. Have they been vaccinated? Have they had Covid-19 and if so, how has it affected them? Do they have other health conditions which could now put them in a higher risk bracket for travel?

Travel itself is likely to be more stressful or increase anxiety levels for many individuals. Even the act of moving through airports and transport hubs, or dealing with some of the controls now in place are likely to cause increased anxiety for people who may have previously travelled with very few concerns.

We explore how these adjustments impact the overall corporate culture, and some of the most important areas executives need to be mindful of as they explore work from anywhere policies and impacts to travel and meetings policies/budgets.

Firstly whose responsibility is TRM?

Is it the security department, HR, or a specialist business travel manager?

Everyone in the company has a role to play, from senior management, who should demonstrate ownership and be accountable for travel risk management, to employees who need to make themselves aware of company policies and processes as part of a “duty of loyalty”.

How to create a travel risk programme

The ISO 31030 standard covers travel from when it’s authorised, including mode of transport to response if something does go wrong: whether a natural disaster or act or terror, or (more often) a traffic accident or illness. Initially organisations are expected to adopt the standard to revamp (or create) travel risk management programmes within their businesses before moving towards certification.

If something goes wrong and an employee suffers loss or harm as result, it is likely that the employer organisation will be asked ‘did you follow the principles of the Travel Risk Management Guidance?’ The implications of disregarding or not having consulted its recommendations may be that a company will be judged not to have met its obligations responsibly.

The important thing to remember is that a travel risk management programme doesn’t just deal with the major incidents or cover your people in high-risk areas. A travel risk management programme will also help you prepare for and mitigate against far more common occurrences such as travel disruptions, road traffic accidents or medical-related incidents.

All organisations with travelling employees should have a policy in place. The core components of an effective travel risk management programme can be separated into three main areas or stages – pre trip, active trip and post trip.

It is all about being prepared. A solid risk management programme goes far beyond considering how to deal with an incident should it happen. It needs to encompass both proactive and reactive measures and needs to start well before a journey has even been booked.

As a travel manager, why not take the lead and help organise a cross-department team to review the implications and response within your company.

Employee wellbeing is an integral part of a strong employer brand. Extending that care to when employees are on the road is a fundamental part of looking after your workforce.

Organisations need to understand the impact that the past 18 months may have had on people’s physical and mental health in general. Underlying physical and mental conditions may have deteriorated due to the limitations in treatment availability. For instance, have they suffered from any physical or mental health conditions that they haven’t been able to have treated properly due to the restrictions in NHS or other health services that haven’t been operating in the same way due to lockdown restrictions?

Employers also need to be acutely aware of everyone’s personal situation. For instance, if employees have suffered bereavements of close family or friends, they may still be coming to terms with the loss and potentially not having been able to grieve properly due to restrictions.

All these things matter because the health environments in the countries that people may be travelling to may also be now very different, with restricted levels of services, and facilities not being accessible or available as they were prior to Covid-19. Should travellers find themselves in need of treatment for general health conditions or for conditions brought about by some of these additional Covid-19 related stressors, travellers could find it more difficult to access treatment whilst away.

There will also need to be health surveillance during the trip in the form of a regular check in with travellers to understand whether the traveller is feeling well and healthy, creating an open channel for travellers to communicate back to an assistance provider that they’re feeling OK. One of the things we’re aware travellers are fearful of, is that they may develop some sort of symptoms and be afraid of declaring them because they’re worried about being quarantined overseas and not being able to get home. It’s therefore essential that there’s an assistance plan and a medical emergency response plan in place for each trip and traveller, to enable swift and appropriate action to be taken to assist in these cases.

Organisations need to allow enough time to go through all these processes before every trip that’s undertaken. There’s an awful lot to think about and to mitigate but that’s where travel risk management providers can help. TRM providers such as Anvil help steer organisations through all these critical stages and can automate many of the processes to ensure that even organisations without internal resources can confidently and effectively navigate a safe return to travel.

GBTA Convention 2021

Visit us in person, if you are looking for guidance and advice on building or revamping corporate travel risk programmes for your organisation, come and see us at the GBTA convention, Orlando next week 17-19 November - Booth #1707.

The GBTA Convention 2021 is the largest annual gathering of business travel and meetings management professionals in the world. The Anvil team are available all 3 days to answer questions and demonstrate our award winning Riskmatics® technology tool.

Our highly-evolved risk management system delivers 360 degree threat awareness and dynamic intelligence on volatile incidents, mapped against your critical assets, so you can take informed action. Incorporating traveller tracking, threat awareness, incident alerting and emergency communications, this sophisticated response system is powered by comprehensive, real-time global data from thousands of reliable sources. How you tap into that data – and your view of the world in which you operate – is customised to create a solution that uniquely fits your specific needs.

Riskmatics_Map

We are pleased to see the ISO 31030 guidance also notes that heat maps are a useful way to quickly and visually communicate the likelihood of organisational risk to leaders.

Understand what’s involved in setting up an effective travel risk management programme with our comprehensive guide. Travel Risk Management 101

Anvil are co-hosting a Travel Risk Management Bootcamp: Understanding and Implementing ISO 31030

The final training dates are 1 &2 December 2021.

For further information on setting up or reviewing your TRM, and to learn more about the new ISO 31030 standard, speak to one of our experienced team directly on +44 (0)20 7938 4221 or via enquiries@anvilgroup.com

To register for the GBTA Travel Risk Management Bootcamp: Understanding and Implementing ISO31030 click here