Where risk was once something companies only had to manage in well-defined hot spots, now it can occur anywhere, whether travellers are in London, Las Vegas or Lima. It constitutes not just terrorist activity but disease, extreme weather conditions, civil unrest, road traffic accidents and more.
Terrorist attacks in formerly low risk cities such as London, Brussels and Paris tell only part of the story. An outbreak of Zika virus, flu or even measles could be enough to lay an employee off duty, preventing them travelling and, depending on where they are, leave them undiagnosed and/or untreated.
Now, no one would summarily dismiss weather as a risk but in 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull brought the world to a standstill – largely because no one had a Plan B and it was unexpected, unprecedented and unplanned. Some 20 countries closed their air space between April 15 and 20, affecting around 10 million travellers… and it all started with a small eruption on March 20, rated at just 1 on the volcanic explosivity index.
Complacency is also a killer – travellers who think they are immune because they have been travelling for their company for decades have not encountered any threat to date and anyway, their employer will look after them, so no need to worry. Traveller behaviour is a potential risk factor, whether they are over-confident, lacking in confidence or breaking the law.
The latter may be inadvertent, as British visitor to Egypt Laura Plummer discovered, when she was arrested on suspicion of drugs trafficking because she had 290 Tramadol tablets (pain killers) in her luggage, brought to the country for her partner, who had back problems. The drug is available on prescription in the UK but is widely abused by drug addicts in Egypt and is banned. She claimed she did not know. Ignorance is no defence.
In short, risk is a many-headed dragon and managing it is not only a complex task, it is part of an organisation’s duty of care to its employees.
As the risks surrounding business travel are highlighted through daily coverage of world events and incidents, employer duty of care and employee concerns combine to accelerate travel risk management to the top of the agenda.
The white paper deals with all the above, looking at high-risk destinations and what companies can do to mitigate those risks. In addition, it emphasises that travel managers are not alone – they can and should turn to their TMC, who is there to provide essential support and knowledge. It is their area of expertise.
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