Businesses are connecting with customers all over the world. Whether you’re a large multi-national corporation, a small government contractor or a small-medium sized enterprise (SME), the success of your business often requires your employees to travel to both stable and unstable regions of the globe.
Managing your corporate travel program – balancing your travel and expense (T&E) budget with travel policy compliance and meeting the needs of your travelers – can be incredibly time-consuming. Adding in the potential uncertainty and responsibilities that come with traveler safety can contribute to an undue amount of stress. In fact, a recent study from BCD Travel states that travel managers rate “traveler safety and security” even more importantly that savings and cost control.
Your expert travel management company (TMC) should be guiding your overall travel program and in addition, provide you with the support and tools needed to ensure the safety of your travelers. There are obvious destinations that require additional risk management, but recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Ecuador earthquake and even the Zika Virus outbreak demonstrates the additional layer of uncertainty that comes with work-related travel to even stable regions. This requires that serious consideration be taken when working with your TMC to develop tools and implement technology systems to ensure your travelers’ safety. The following are some essential questions that should be asked regarding traveler welfare.
Are you and your TMC communicating with your travelers?
One of the biggest challenges for travel managers is making sure that employees are utilizing their internal booking system to arrange and book travel. When travelers book outside of the system (many times because they think they are getting a better “deal” on travel or they have a personal preferred vendor) travel managers and TMC’s are unable to effectively track what airline and/or hotel a traveler is using and may not have access to their itinerary.
Gather feedback from your road warriors and executive team to develop a traveler-friendly, cost-effective corporate travel program. Then ensure these recommendations are included in your travel policy. Once the travel policy is updated (and it will continue to need updating as circumstances change) work with your TMC to effectively communicate and seamlessly enforce the policy. Be sure to communicate the “why” to your road warriors; you’re not trying to make their trip planning more difficult – you’re working hard to ensure their safety while traveling.
Open and honest communication combined with travel leadership from an expert TMC can mitigate potential risks for your travelers, while maintaining control of your overall corporate travel program.
How is your TMC managing safety and risk issues?
During the aftermath of the Paris attacks, our agency was on high alert, staying abreast of the situation through the weekend; we made a point to reach out to our clients who traveled to France and were thankful to find out that everyone we spoke with was safe.
It's critical to work with your TMC to develop a system that has the ability to communicate with traveling employees in case of an emergency. According to a Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Control Risks Group study, 54% of travelers surveyed, carry no specific contact number for use should there be a crisis abroad. Unforeseen incidents can happen anywhere and if your travelers don’t have the ability to contact you if they are in trouble, how would you know?
An expert TMC should provide you with the opportunity to include risk mitigation services within your travel program. These companies can assist with threat prediction and communication, and provide professionals on the ground, as needed, for your travelers. This service can create an added level of safety and peace-of-mind for both your business and your employees traveling to potentially unsafe parts of the world.
As mentioned above, it’s imperative that your travelers book within your company’s online booking system or contact your TMC directly to ensure all travel information is correct and accessible. This allows for almost instant contact with travelers in case of emergencies or last-minute travel changes. Mobile apps such as TripIt and TripCase can also assist with trip itinerary management and accessibility.
Thoroughly discuss the options for risk mitigation services that are available through your TMC. Utilizing a TMC’s resources will ensure traveler welfare and keep your employees travel policy compliant.
How are you and/or your TMC able to track your travelers?
Recent terrorist attacks and other tragedies have prompted those in the travel industry to focus on improvements for track employees during travel. According to iJet, 6,000 travel disruptions occurred in 2015. In turn, BTN surveyed 210 managed business travelers and found that 47% of them believe that their company is entirely responsible for their well being while on a business trip. In addition, even though 20% of respondents cited GPS tracking as “not appropriate” in general, 94% would opt-in for GPS tracking of their mobile device if traveling to a high-risk region.
Knowing this information, it’s essential for your business to work with a TMC that has the ability to provide real-time traveler tracking. Instrumenting systems and processes for real-time location reporting – including TMC itinerary data monitoring, GPS tracking and corporate card-swipe data –is an important step in protecting your travelers and your business should a situation arise.
Traveler welfare should be at the top of your TMC’s priority list as they work with you to develop a travel leadership program for your organization. An effective program will provide critical support, drive cost savings, enhance employee productivity and maintain corporate travel program control. Through effective communication, travel policy enforcement and the ability to utilize traveler-tracking technology, your road warriors should be able to safely achieve your business’ travel goals.
Do you have any examples to show how your TMC is successfully managing your travelers’ welfare? Please share your ideas below. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of working with a TMC, please download our whitepaper, The 10 P’s of Effective Travel Management.