The world is a different place than it was just a few short months ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to focus more on the key priorities of ensuring the health and safety of their employees and maintaining proper levels of support for their customers. Visibility, traveler safety and security, and enhanced travel management services within this changing environment are crucial. When unexpected events arise, knowing where your travelers are and being able to communicate with them is the top priority. Whether your business travel is mostly domestic, or if you have offices around the globe, risk management is a topic you can’t ignore.
Understanding the duty of care in the context of corporate travel is essential for developing effective travel policies, ensuring compliance, and ensuring traveler safety. Preparation, prevention and communication are key. Here are a few tips to bring your corporate travel management program up to speed.
- Preparation and Prevention. Determine the level and type of risk prior to the trip. The difference between the steps you’ll take after a tsunami, during a pandemic, during political demonstrations, critical events in bordering countries, or other disruptive crisis events are considerable and bear a little thought beforehand. Risks can change, often dramatically, while an employee is on a business trip. This was evidenced during the coronavirus pandemic. Imagining the different situations will help you assemble various resources that might be important, but aren’t obvious, like corporate insurance policies or legal representation contact numbers.
- Assemble Emergency Profiles for Each Employee. This file should contain emergency contact numbers (multiple), health information (blood type, chronic conditions, prescriptions), contact information for their primary physician, and a digital photograph of the employee. Since many of these items are of a sensitive nature, the file will probably have to reside behind your HR Department’s firewall and only become available on a selected basis during an actual emergency. The important thing is that it be there should you need it!
- Create a Crisis Management Team. Many corporations, especially larger ones, will already have one in place. If not, as the Travel Manager you are in a perfect position to help your company pull together the needed elements. When unexpected emergencies arise, you want the people and resources in place to react quickly to protect your employees and company assets. Include members from Human Resources, Security, and Senior Management, if possible, to make sure you have access to sensitive files when they become crucial to supporting an employee in the field. Define each team member’s responsibilities in a crisis and make sure all team members have home phone numbers listed because emergencies don’t always occur during business hours.
- Partner With a Corporate Travel Agency That Provides Robust Duty of Care Service. Having a first-class Duty of Care program in place will be a welcome addition to your arsenal of resources when a crisis develops. Among the services which you should expect are pre-trip travel alerts based on the destination of travel, emergency event notifications, immunization/entry document notices, flight change alerts, and traveler tracking and monitoring while abroad. It is important to make your travelers aware of any risks beforehand, and provide updates and key instructions for avoiding risks. When illnesses or mishaps happen, your corporate travel agency should partner with you and ensure your traveler is secure. Note: Duty of Care services are often optional and firms with domestic-only travel frequently decide to skip the cost of implementation. With the current state of affairs in the world we expect many firms will be taking a fresh look at these valuable services, even if they don’t travel to high-risk destinations.
- Consider Additional Partnerships which Make Sense Based on Your Travel Profile. If you have employees based in high-risk locations, extra precautions might be warranted. Medical evacuation services are one example and can be procured by contract, or through travel insurance coverage. There are also numerous Crisis Management Consultants who focus on mitigating damage to a firm’s reputation when services have been disrupted, or a mistake has been made by an employee during the early days of a crisis. While these services can be beyond the purview of a travel department, having included them as an option in your crisis response plan can prove beneficial when an emergency happens.
- Communication and Evaluation: As your company grows or changes, so will your travel and risk management strategies. Demonstrate the company’s level of commitment to their employee’s well-being by communicating changes in travel policies and helping them to understand prior to any trip. Make the time to reassess and reevaluate your Duty of Care program for your employees. With the number of unforeseen risks entailed in business travel, taking the time to review and update safety policies is essential in protecting your travelers. By protecting your employees not only are you showing them you care, but you are protecting the company as well.
TEPLIS TRAVEL provides a proprietary Duty of Care solution that features WorldAware Trip Briefings and Security Alerts which are matched against passenger name records and GPS locations to deliver crucial information right before or during the trip. Our Traveler Tracking technology can search for individuals or groups of travelers, drilling down to the country, city, or neighborhood level, and utilizing GPS tracking of each traveler’s cellphone to pinpoint their exact location on a map.
For more information about our Duty of Care program, contact your Teplis representative at (404) 843-7460.