< PrevNext > Taking On Travel Risk Management By Julie Sickel / April 19, 2017 / Contact Reporter Share Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Global terror events, natural disasters and medical crises have grabbed headlines more frequently over the past few years, making travel risk management and traveler security a greater part of the travel management conversation. But just where does the industry stand? How far does it still have to go? And how do factors like a program's size and its frequency of international travel change how organizations address safety and security?In a BTN survey of 229 travel buyers and managers and corporate safety and security managers, 65 percent said their companies' attention to traveler safety and travel risk management has increased over the past three years. The larger the company's travel spend, the more sharply it has honed its attention to travel risk management. Only 52 percent of programs that spend less than $10 million a year on travel increased their travel risk management focus, but of those that spend $50 million or more on travel, 81 percent did so. Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 CTI senior travel coordinator Lisa Kaffenberger, whose company spends less than $10 million a year on travel, said that disparity is a resource issue, not a reflection of lower risk for smaller programs. Prior to joining CTI, she worked for a company that "pinched pennies until they squealed" and avoided any kind of spend on risk management, even after a terror event occurred within blocks of some of the company's travelers. "In one of the meetings, I was called Chicken Little for saying we need to get something in place," she recalled.Since the terror attacks in Brussels last March, iJet CEO Bruce McIndoe has seen a definite shift in attitudes among corporates, specifically in Europe. "That was the watershed event," he said. The attacks hit not only the airport but also local transportation. "A lot of companies have local nationals in Brussels, and that made this ... become a people issue, not just a travel issue." McIndoe believes a major event in the U.S. will have a similar effect on companies in North America.Half of survey respondents said travelers have expressed increased anxiety levels about safety and security while traveling on business during the past three years. The more a company's travelers voyage outside the U.S. or the more those travelers experience medical or security disruptions, the more they expressed such anxiety. Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Who's Tasked with Travel Risk Management?Within each organization, the party primarily tasked with traveler safety and travel risk management depends on program size. For smaller programs with less than $10 million in annual travel spend, the responsibility rests with travel management in 26 percent of companies. It rests with the traveler in 21 percent of companies and with executive management in 14 percent of companies. For larger midmarket and large programs, the responsibility more often falls to corporate security and then to travel management or to health, safety and/or risk management.Senior sourcing manager Randy Griswold is a key point person on travel risk management at Tupperware, which falls in the category that spends $50 million or more on travel annually. The company has a dedicated risk manager, but Griswold works with her and the legal department to improve duty of care for key trip types and destinations.Two-thirds of survey respondents have taken on more responsibility for traveler safety and traveler risk management during the past three years. Even in large programs, which more often have internal corporate security or risk departments, travel buyers and managers' responsibility for travel risk management has increased. "These large companies are starting to address the problem more as a crossfunctional area," said International SOS EVP Tim Daniel. "Travel managers are being brought into a conversation that has probably already been going on that they just weren't necessarily part of." Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Primary Travel Risk Management PartnersTravel management companies are the primary external partner for travel risk management for 32 percent of the survey respondents, while 29 percent rely primarily on full-service travel risk providers and 18 percent rely on traveler tracking or risk messaging platforms. "For people who are looking at the world through a travel lens," said Daniel, the TMCs are there and they're already providing a lot of service."The larger a travel program got, the more it relied on a full-service travel risk provider and the less it relied on a TMC. McIndoe suggested organizations across the travel-spend spectrum will shift from TMCs to full-service risk providers in the coming years. "We see it changing every quarter," he said. "When it's just travel, you can put it in a box and put it in the corner. More and more companies are broadening the responsibility."Tupperware is transitioning to a new TMC, ATG, and Griswold intends to work with iJet through ATG. Kaffenberger, who described CTI's travel risk management program as "embryonic," is shopping around for a new TMC partner and for a risk management provider, but she intends to contract with each separately. "In talking to travel risk providers, they suggested that because our [travel] program is so immature, we should keep our risk management products separate of our TMC until we've established what TMC we're going to use and what method of booking we're going to use," Kaffenberger said. She added that doing so would give her flexibility if she decided to change again down the road. Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Common Practices: The Good, the Bad & the UglyThe majority of respondents to BTN's survey require pre-trip approval for travel to high-risk markets and require mobile phone numbers for traveler profiles. However, a full 36 percent communicate or implement policies inconsistently. Only 17 percent fully integrate policy into corporate processes and regularly review them for improvement.Assessing RiskThough many programs have some measures around travel risk management and traveler security in place, more than half said their organizations have never conducted—or they didn't know if they had conducted—a comprehensive travel risk assessment of their major travel markets. A quarter had conducted a comprehensive assessment during the past year. "It comes down ultimately to resources and money," McIndoe said. "A lot of companies will go with a provider and put some basic procedures in place, and that's it."Kaffenberger said a comprehensive assessment is on her triage list for the next 12 to 18 months. "I want to know if we are heading in the right direction and what things I may have overlooked in my quest for a risk management program," she said. Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Training & EducationJust over half of respondents said their companies don't offer specific travel risk management training or they weren't sure if their companies do. That share increased to 62 percent among programs with less than $10 million in travel spend, a somewhat troubling trend given that 20 percent of that group said travelers are primarily responsible for travel risk management.Daniel said a lot of companies struggle with questions like, "Do we really need training?" and, "Is it worth making busy employees do one more thing?" He explained, "There's the belief that there's not the return on investment."McIndoe also encounters a lack of investment in education and training. "The highest return on investment that you can make in a travel risk management program is to properly educate and train your travelers to make the right decisions in the moment versus getting themselves into trouble," he said, "because then it becomes a very expensive proposition."Vetting SuppliersMost respondents haven't changed the intensity with which they vet car rental, air, hotel, TMC and insurance providers during the past three years, which didn't surprise Daniel. "If you're going to screen suppliers, you have to have some sort of standard, and that's usually linked to a policy and thinking about … 'What result are we trying to achieve and what are the criteria we want to use?' I don't think a lot of organizations have sophisticated policies for that sort of exercise. Then there's the work involved to do it, and the tools and the ways to do that are still evolving." Source: BTN survey of 229 travel managers, travel buyers & corporate safety & security managers, conducted Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2017 Griswold recently removed two air carriers and multiple hotels from Tupperware's global suppliers. The Global Business Travel Association's hotel RFP model includes a safety and security section, but McIndoe said many sourcing departments don't know what to do with the data and thus ignore it. Griswold, rather, vetted hotels manually, booting properties with low room nights in riskier areas.Changing the ConversationWorld events have led companies to pay more attention to traveler security and travel risk management, but McIndoe and Daniel said the discussion shouldn't be about just the big incidents. Both pointed out that a traveler is more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack. And while not all emergencies result in death, U.S. Department of State statistics back up the assertion. Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2016, 28 percent of non-natural deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries other than Iraq and Afghanistan resulted from vehicle accidents. About 1 percent were from terrorist actions. Source: Deaths reported to U.S. Department of State from 2013 to 2016 "We need to make this a more personal story in terms of how we approach travel risk and a more everyday story," Daniel said. "That is where we see companies trip up. They're not necessarily prepared to deal with the everyday stuff with the resources that they need." Part of having the right resources in place, he added, is making sure travel managers aren't trying to tackle travel risk management alone. If they do, they'll miss out on the strengths colleagues can bring to the conversation. He noted, "The best programs require multiple people sitting at the table."