The need for smart and scalable travel risk management solutions to protect enterprises and their workers has grown in recent years.

Recent events have taught us that risk is not limited to locations where there is already a war. Companies have become increasingly cognizant of the mounting hazards their travelling workers confront as a result of terrorist acts, natural disasters, and, more recently, the COVID-19 epidemic.

In some ways, the epidemic has aided many businesses and passengers in understanding the broader ramifications of travel and risk in general. The logical desire for increased levels of due diligence prior to a trip is driving the need for greater levels of information and intelligence — as well as solutions to make travel risk management programmes more scalable.

Business travellers want additional information and a better awareness of potential travel risks and the impact of COVID-19 in their destination cities. Employees want to know about constraints as well as any new restrictions that may be implemented. They also want to know how to stay safe while travelling and in the country, as well as what to do if they need assistance. They want to know that their company can and will adequately prepare and assist them in terms of both their physical and mental health.

As travellers become more aware of the dangers associated with travel, their comprehension of the importance of risk assessments and duty of care compliance grows, resulting in a more positive attitude toward travel risk management in general.

How can business leaders and organisations grow or develop their travel risk management systems as we navigate a return to travel?

A good travel risk management programme goes far beyond thinking about how to deal with an event if one occurs. It must include both proactive and reactive measures and be part of a company-wide risk management strategy to be genuinely effective. It must engage a large number of internal and external stakeholders who are all working toward the same goal.

Organizations could start by asking themselves a few fundamental questions to determine whether a travel risk management programme is genuinely suited for its purpose:

Do we have well defined travel policies and procedures (from a health, safety, and security standpoint) that are not just recorded, but also communicated and followed by all parties involved?
Do we have access to trustworthy, real-time health, safety, and security data that can be utilised to inform travel decisions and simply presented to travellers prior to their departure?
Are all of our passengers given the appropriate pre-travel training and briefings to help them become more self-sufficient?
Do we have a system in place to manage travel to high-risk areas?
Are we able to locate and communicate with travellers in the case of a safety, security, or health incident, and provide them with appropriate advice and support?

Furthermore, a new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard now provides an excellent structure for businesses to follow. ISO 31030 Travel Risk Management gives enterprises and their workers advice on how to handle travel risks. The standard, which was just issued, lays out a method for developing, implementing, evaluating, and reviewing travel risk management policies and programmes, as well as assessing and treating travel risks. One of the standards’ goals is to establish a culture in which travel-related risk is taken seriously, sufficiently resourced, and effectively managed. ISO 31030 specifies how to identify travel-related hazards, as well as how to manage and benchmark those risks.

It takes away the guessing and brings clarity to an area that has never been more important.

Business Travel in the Future
When planning for the future, we must think about both the long and short term. Travel will gradually regain a sense of normalcy and restore itself in the long run. Organizations will, however, need to think about travel considerably differently in the near and medium term than they did in the past.

In the short-term, business leaders and organizations need to put far greater emphasis on the pre-trip due diligence process to understand the various elements of the trip and what risk mitigation looks like at each of the key stages. They will also need to look more closely at the destinations their travelers are visiting. Regions previously deemed ‘safe’ travel zones may now present a potential health risk in a way that they didn’t before, and organizations need to allow the time to understand the situation fully and undertake additional due diligence measures prior to any trip commencing.

With so much focus on COVID-19’s impact and consequences, as well as how employers may best navigate a safe return to travel, it’s easy to miss the pre-existing risks that business travel can, and still does, bring. Organizations and travellers will face the same travel hazards as before, ranging from little inconveniences like flight delays to serious concerns like conflict, terror attacks, weather catastrophes, natural disasters, and violent protests and disorder. Those hazards haven’t gone away, and it’s critical that enterprises keep them in mind as they move forward with their travel risk management strategies.

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