Corporate travel is an essential part of modern-day business with (US) $1.3 trillion spent globally on it in 2016. It poses a number of unique challenges for companies of all sizes though. And perhaps the most important one is keeping your employees safe.
Whether you’re an organisation of 10 or 10 million, there’s a good chance you’ll have had employees travelling domestically or internationally on company business. Depending on the structure of your organisation, safeguarding traveller welfare might fall to HR, a designated travel manager or even an entire travel management department.
Keeping your corporate travellers safe is one of the key tenets of successful travel management, but it isn’t always a simple task. Global threats change perpetually, and the fast evolution of travel management technology means the role of the corporate travel manager is always changing – so, how can the modern corporate travel manager effectively manage risk within your company?
Take Ownership of Your Duty-of-Care
When your organisation sends an employee on business travel it is responsible for their well-being, and this is known as your duty-of-care.
Although there are a huge number of techniques, tools and methodologies to help manage travel risk, the very first step is accepting your responsibility for your travellers' safety. Only once you've owned your duty-of-care can you move on to actually protecting your travellers.
In the current age of uncertainty, keeping travellers safe is dependent on such a huge range of ever-changing factors that even the most experienced travel managers can struggle. This is why the use of travel risk-management software has quickly spread across the sector.
Understand the Safety and Security Risks of the Trip
Extreme weather and terrorist activity are becoming much more frequent risks, and understanding these threats can go a long way towards keeping your travellers safe.
When planning any business travel you should perform a travel risk assessment to ensure you are aware of any specific threats travellers may encounter during their trip, whether they’re the result of extreme weather, political instability or simply issues endemic within the location. You'll then need to brief travellers on these risks before the trip and educate them on best-practice in a crisis situation.
The heightened risk inherent in 21st century business travel has awoken in businesses the realisation that they need to know where employees are at any given time and especially during a crisis. After all, if you don’t know where your travellers are, how can you help them in the event of an emergency?
This has led to the proliferation of sophisticated tracking tools and effective emergency communication platforms being implemented as part of corporate-travel policy, ensuring business travellers are never on their own.
Address the Issue of Traveller Anxiety
Given the changing face of the world around us, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that business travellers are feeling increasingly anxious about leaving the office – a phenomenon dubbed "permanxiety" by industry thought leaders. A 2016 survey from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) found that over half (56%) of business travellers were moderately to severely anxious about a terrorism threat during business travel.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by travel managers.
A recent survey by Skift showed that 28% would be happy to increase their spend within 10% of the hotel rate cap if it meant keeping their travellers safe during their trip. And another 11% said they’d be willing to do so within 25% of the hotel rate cap.
This stat should help ease anxieties about whether businesses have their best interests at heart when it comes to safety and security, but emergencies can never be fully avoided, and travellers know this.
Proactive travel risk-management can equip travellers with the right tools, educate them about best-practice in emergency situations and raise their awareness of the risks involved in each business trip before they depart, as well as helping them stay safe and alleviating anxieties they might have.
Prioritise Making Business Travel Accessible to Everyone
As well as taking time to evaluate the risks of every business trip, you should also be evaluating any issues that may arise from a traveller’s health and ensuring you can meet their needs. Although this is important for all travellers, it’s especially pertinent to examine how you can make business trips easier for employees with disabilities.
A large aspect of this will revolve around ensuring flight and hotel bookings are made with any potential difficulties in mind to help alleviate any anxiety travellers with specific needs might face. This may involve contacting providers directly, but platforms like Accomable are becoming more prevalent and offer far greater insight into the accessibility offered by hotels and airlines.
But ensuring business travel is inclusive and accessible to everyone isn't just about choosing the right hotels and flights though. You’ll also need to take steps to communicate with business travellers using methods and best-practices that are proven not to exclude anybody.
Although Airbnb have been criticised for neglecting the needs of differently-abled travellers in the past (a Rutgers University study found that Airbnb hosts are more likely to reject travellers with disabilities), they are taking steps to correct this issue by partnering with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to make their site and app easier to use for the visually challenged.
Make Use of the Technology Available
There can be no doubt that technology is driving drastic change within the business travel industry, and this is especially evident when it comes to rapidly evolving risk-management processes.
Every couple of years some tools available to corporate travel managers are rendered redundant as newer solutions are developed. Now, GPS trackers, employee check-in systems, weather updates, city guides and emergency communication functionality are all regularly utilised – and often integrated into a single travel management app.
At Mantic Point we specialise in creating business travel management solutions that are optimised for the needs of your business. Our mobile applications are available in your company’s branding and help to keep your staff secure and alert to potential issues wherever they are in the world – with functionality that includes GPS tracking, electronic risk-briefings, real-time itinerary updates and integration with your existing risk-management tools.