Despite the increased attention corporations are paying to their travelers' safety and security as a globalized economy, geopolitics and instability converge, experts remind companies that safety and security have as much to do with mundane threats as with terrorist attacks. Whether a hurricane, a city center bombing, the flu or exhaustion, work with HR and risk/security departments to have plans in place, to open communication lines with travelers and to keep your travelers educated.
I. Get Started
A successful TRM program will include a well-communicated and comprehensive policy, consistent training of new and longer-term employees and support from corporate security.
- Develop a vision for the TRM program and set objectives. Consider the role of the TRM program in the company's and travel program's overall goals and decide where TRM should sit within the company's risk management program. Goals could include:
- A more comprehensive approach to ensuring travelers' safety and security.
- Better understanding of the levels of emergencies, plus creation of response protocols for each.
- Increased visibility into travel in higher-risk areas
- Increased ability to track every traveler on the road.
- Better communication with travelers during emergencies.
- An effective plan to handle travelers' medical emergencies.
- Closer compliance with duty of care regulations in the countries to which your company travels.
- A comprehensive approach to limiting the risk to the sensitive company data that travelers hold.
- Build a network of stakeholders.
- Identify a senior executive or manager to champion the program. Doing so will raise the visibility among senior management and lend credibility to the developing program throughout the company.
- Coordinate with corporate security, HR, the legal department, the compliance department, corporate communications, IT and frequent global and domestic travelers.
- Consider a council of stakeholders, with representatives from each involved department, that meets regularly to discuss and assess developments in the TRM program.
- When incorporating travelers into the discussions, ensure that international travelers are represented, including those who are not based in the company's home country. Also ensure that male and female travelers are represented, as well as travelers from all age groups and other demographics.
- Consider the role of your travel management companies, online booking tools, TRM suppliers, onsite medical assistance providers and itinerary management technology providers.
- Gather data.
- Use data sources like corporate cards, expense reports, hotels, airlines, TMCs, third-party data aggregators and internal information to collect data on your organization's travel volume and patterns.
- Use the data to see where and how frequently travelers are visiting different locations, including international versus domestic. Learn what countries and regions are frequently visited by your company's travelers and what time of the year and day they typically travel.
- Use the data to examine the travel suppliers your travelers use most frequently, particularly when overseas. Document the airlines they fly on, particularly domestic carriers in foreign countries, independent hotels and ground transportation services.
- Consider your company's culture and overall goals, as well as the goals of the travel program, when considering the best methods to construct a TRM program. A company that frowns on mandates might resist a TRM program that relies on mandates to govern traveler choice and movement. Some formats to consider:
- Mandated policy.
- This ensures traveler compliance to preferred booking channels by labeling any deviation a violation of policy and attaching consequences that can run up to nonreimbursement of expenses for repeat offenders.
- Some companies require pre-trip approval from the traveler's manager, at the least, before the traveler can book a trip to certain high-risk locations.
- Some companies mandate airlines, hotels and ground transportation providers in high-risk areas or prohibit suppliers with poor safety records.
- Some policies require travelers to contact someone in the travel program or at the TMC or to check in from certain destinations upon arrival, at preset intervals during the trip or during emergencies.
- As with any policy mandate, expect resistance from some travelers, particularly those who travel frequently to high-risk destinations. Involving them in the development of the program can lower this resistance, as can demonstrating the effect on traveler safety and security that the mandates provide.
- Companies with open booking or channel-agnostic travel booking policies can implement technology that records travelers' itineraries before they set off. However, still make every effort to educate travelers of the security risks of booking outside preferred channels.
- Consider your company's IT and communications system needs. Work with IT to assess whether your company's technology can integrate with any TRM-related tool you're considering, including traveler tracking technology, itinerary management technology and global communications systems.