Acts of terrorism like the coordinated attacks in London, the bombing in Manchester, England, and the explosion in Kabul near the German embassy are the kind of events that remind company stakeholders to take stock of their duty of care obligations. And it’s during such tragedies when companies’ travel risk management (TRM) programs are put to the test.

But the reality is, it’s more likely that your traveling employees will be impacted by an incident that doesn’t generate news headlines.

A more common trip scenario is a traveler getting into an accident while driving a rental car in a foreign city all bleary-eyed after an overnight flight. Or, perhaps a traveling employee needs to be rushed to the hospital in a country where they do not speak the language. With the laptop ban at certain airports, it’s certainly possible that a device containing sensitive company data is stolen from luggage yet to be claimed at the baggage area. And what road warrior’s itinerary hasn’t been impacted by a major weather event?

As with any activity, there are inherent risks in travel, and there are many scenarios in which things can go wrong. That’s why having a solid TRM program in place, one that can be leveraged at a moment’s notice and is regularly updated and tested, is critical.

There is no one-size-fits-all program that will work for all companies, of course.

“Different companies have different needs based on their size and available resources,” explains Marissa Fong, a director of product management at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).

For example, a small company in, say, the mining industry that’s sending their employees to high-risk destinations will have very different TRM needs than a firm of comparable size that only deals with domestic travel.

So, when developing a program, company leaders should evaluate what specific risks their travelers may encounter in the countries they are visiting and how the company can best mitigate or manage those risks, including reviewing what kind of tools may be necessary to protect the company and travelers alike.

After settling those matters, it’s time to build the TRM team. Ideally, leaders from various departments, including HR, travel, security, legal, insurance, finance, and communications, are assigned specific duties so they fully understand what’s expected of them before, during and after a crisis.

Fong points out that many small to midsize companies may not have the same resources as multinational corporations (which may have an entire security team monitoring travelers 24/7), requiring that these smaller firms rely more on third parties, such as a risk intelligence specialist or a travel management company, for support.

We’re well equipped

American Express GBT has a number of products and services available to its clients, including EXPERT CARE, which can help security and travel managers (TM) identify the location of travelers possibly impacted in a crisis situation and then communicate with them via text, email or mobile application.

Travel alerts, provided by iJET® International and Riskline™, also can automatically be sent to travelers in advance, warning them of possible threats on the horizon.

Through an internal system known as C.A.L.M., American Express GBT also can leverage multiple risk intelligence sources to assess critical issues as well as identify which clients might have impacted travelers so that counselors can provide outreach and travel support.

Fong adds, “We also refer specific services to third parties like iJET International, which is a reputable risk intelligence partner.”

Take matters into your own hands

While much of a TRM plan relies on a team of people, there are several actions TMs can take on their own to help keep their traveling staff safe.

First, make sure all your travelers’ profiles are up-to-date and include current contact details and next-of-kin information.

You also should have handy your travelers’ complete itineraries, including air, hotel and ground details. This is why promoting travel policy compliance is so important. When travelers book their hotel and air through their travel management company and company-approved tools, all this information is properly stored and easily accessible in one place.

Next, make sure your travelers are aware a TRM plan exists by sending them regular communications throughout the year. Before they set off on the road, educate them about the risks of the destination they are traveling to, including entry/exit requirements, security tips that are specific to the region and vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Encourage travelers to have their destination’s emergency services numbers and the numbers they can call back home for assistance saved in their mobile phone and that they download the Amex GBT Mobile App, which has a click-to-call function they can use for travel assistance. Finally, when one of your travelers does experience some sort of emergency on a business trip, once they are back safe and sound, reach out to get their feedback as to how the company could have responded better so you can continue perfecting Plan A.

Is your travel program equipped to handle the challenges your travelers may encounter on the road? Contact us so we can help make sure it is.