the benefits of traveler tracking systems are clear to many multinational
companies, effectively setting up and using such a system can be tricky. The
devil is in the details, especially when companies first implement a tracking process
in conjunction with their agencies, according to panelists speaking during a
November webinar conducted by risk management firm International SOS and the
Association of Corporate Travel Executives.
of multinational travel programs that use multiple service providers to support
travelers in far-flung and often dangerous locations in particular should
ensure those providers can handle the complexities of doing so, according to International
SOS group executive vice president Tim Daniel.
pretty rare that a company has one travel management company that does all of
its travel bookings all around the world," Daniel explained. "The
irony is that sometimes it's the smaller, less-centralized TMCs that are
booking the trips that are more dangerous because they are in the outlying
parts of the world."
engineering, construction and services company KBR uses more than 20 agencies
to serve travelers visiting more than 140 countries, according to travel services
director Darcy Taylor. "Our first step, whenever we go into a new
location, is to go out for bid for the travel agency," Taylor said.
"In our request for proposals we stipulate the technical capabilities they
must have to be part of our organization. In those technical specs we identify
how they are going to feed the data to us so we can get it to International
SOS," which provides a traveler tracking system.
KBR chooses a travel agency for a particular location, it schedules a meeting with
technical support groups from that agency and International SOS. From there,
the latter "starts working directly with the travel agency to make sure
the data is being received properly," Taylor said.
company Hess Corp. also sends travelers to many remote places around the globe,
but unlike KBR it uses one TMC worldwide, according to Hess global travel
manager Nicki Leeds.
said that while such a setup sidesteps some problems regarding data feeds, traveler
tracking still is addressed contractually. "It's part of our service-level
agreement in our contract that it has to be done," she said. "We were
having challenges with some countries that weren't using HRG to come on board.
When we say this is something that has to be done for traveler tracking, it
really doesn't give them much space to argue.
culture is that safety is first," Leeds continued, "so much so that
our bonus structure depends on it, for everyone in the company."
to RFPs with information on traveler tracking capabilities is standard for Frosch Travel, a midmarket TMC that claims
more than 1,000 clients and partners with International SOS. "It is
something that we have become more involved in over the past 18 months or
so," said Frosch corporate travel director Brett Leslie. "Ninety-eight
percent of the RFPs we receive from potential clients have a section pertaining
to travel security, risk management, etc. It is crucial to have processes and
partnerships in place to make sure we can deliver solutions properly.
us, it's not so much having a box solution for the way data will be
passed," Leslie continued. "It's working with each client to
understand their data requirements. How do we need to queue things up in the
PNR so that the information is properly sent over to International SOS, and can
it be queued to individual travelers for alerts, etc.?"
added that it's important to be sure "at the time of booking that the
proper information is being tracked." That includes proactively building
traveler profiles, and, for new employees, capturing "as much information
as possible during the hiring process and working to set up back-office data
the integrity and thoroughness of those data feeds is a critical, never-ending
task, according to panelists. "It takes a lot of ongoing discipline and
attention" and is "definitely a team effort," International
SOS's Daniel said. He noted discrepancies between booked and ticketed
transactions, and issues with airlines' online check-in processes, which are "not
universally reflected in these [traveler tracking] systems."
feeds should be "checked daily," said KBR's Taylor. "You can't
set it up initially and expect it to run on its own. There are so many moving
parts, especially in a large organization. A very small thing can put up a
hiccup in the data."
suggested that travel managers run tests with their own information: "When
you book a trip for yourself or someone on your team, follow the whole process
through to make sure that it is coming out on the reports correctly."
what Leeds and her team at Hess does, in addition to auditing the International
SOS traveler tracking system. "We can get into trouble with changes—segments
entered manually by the agency," she said. "Do they go back into the
queue where they need to be?"
acknowledged the challenges related to changes made by travelers at airports.
"I wish I had a great answer; I am certainly searching for it," she
said. "We try to educate the admins of those travelers to communicate that
back to the TMC so the TMC can make the proper adjustment, but it certainly is
added that training travelers to communicate changes themselves also is vital.
"It's one thing to do all the back-end work, but at some point the
traveler has to let us know," he said. "Just as we have a duty of
care, they have a duty."
the TMC side, the key components at Frosch, according to Leslie, are "an
in-house automation team that can keep a constant eye on the processes, and
also aligning yourself as a travel management company with a quality-control
system in your mid-office that can be trusted to capture the data." When
important information is missing, he said, the QC system must recognize that
and trigger a process that kicks the booking back to an agent "before it
goes over to International SOS."
panelists also addressed thorny issues related to travelers' phone numbers and
tracking via mobile devices.
want to mandate phone numbers in profiles but I run into privacy laws outside
the United States," Taylor said. "There are countries that say you
cannot, even if a company-purchased phone, require an employee to put the phone
number in the profile. We have been working with legal to determine where is
that balance. Changing culture takes patience and time. Once we implement
something like that, it has to be a global policy."
also referenced that balance when discussing mobile phone tracking. "When
people are not in trouble, they want their privacy. When they are in trouble,
they want to know why we didn't figure out where they were and do more to help
them," she said. "You have to figure out what that balance is within
your culture. Hopefully we are moving toward making it a little bit easier to