Duty of care for all
The risks associated with a global pandemic have dominated people’s minds for almost the last two years. But as travel returns, it’s important to recognize that other risks – like cyberterrorism, climate change, extreme weather events, and economic threats – haven’t gone away.
Travel programs must incorporate or adjust their strategies for managing an expanded definition of duty of care.
Keep traveling employees safe
The focus of risk management has pivoted towards employees, making it less about travel only. In recent years, employees have been given greater freedom over the location of their daily work, and many have made good use of this liberty. According to our early 2022 survey of 875 English-speaking business travelers worldwide, 57% would like to work from anywhere (as digital nomads), if employer policies allowed.* With remote workers increasingly coming on the radar of travel managers, it's time to rethink travel risk management strategies and practices.
People risk management, employee profiles and employee mobility are all parts of the puzzle that need to be pieced together by employers. The new approach should embrace:
- Hybrid workforces
- New sets of locations
- Work-from-anywhere policies
- Political unrest
- Changing values
- Traveler wellness
- Risk mitigation
Risk management crosses multiple roles and departments – from Risk Management and Human Resources (HR) to Procurement, Communication and the C-Suite. Collaboration is crucial to providing the oversight stakeholders need to prevent risks or mitigate the consequences.
Meets rising demands for 24/7 traveler security
Developed specifically for travel and security managers to manage their traveler security program, the mobile app provides 24/7 coverage of active travelers against destination risk and incidents, allowing managers to monitor and respond remotely.
- Tracks caution, warning and emergency level alerts against traveler bookings
- Delivers emergency level alerts via push notification to the home screen of the mobile device, prompting a list of impacted travelers
- Travel and security managers can contact affected travelers directly from the app via SMS, email or click-to-call
- Clients who have enabled emergency response capabilities in the TripSource® traveler app have the added value of seeing who has checked-in as safe so they can focus on the remaining travelers
The steps to managing risk
Determine who is at risk.
When determining risk, understand who is at risk and the potential factors affecting their travel. People risk management, employee profiles and employee mobility are all pieces of the puzzle. Knowing the traveler profile will determine how governmental, health advice and guidelines apply to your business and travelers.
Identify travel threats and hazards.
Examine each stage of the journey, including (but not limited to): travel to the airport, air travel, ground transportation, accommodation, food safety, meeting venue and country/city requirements.
Devise a matrix to score risk as Minor, Moderate, High or Extreme.
Decide which control measures to use and what actions to take. Control measures can be defined as the 4 Ts – Treat, Transfer, Terminate, Tolerate.
Every business, in collaboration with safety and security teams, should define levels and appropriate actions in response to risk events.
Develop risk standards and guidelines.
In conjunction with security and risk teams, help your employees understand what is expected of them, what they should do and when, and how to make the best decisions for themselves and the business. Collect traveler feedback and use it to determine whether the measures put in place are adequate and being applied.
Guidelines should include:
- Awareness and education
- Safety guidelines and procedures
- Preferred partners and approved processes
- Assessment of international travel requirements (health passports, quarantine restrictions, etc.)
Educate and communicate.
Make sure employees are aware of the dangers they may face any time and anywhere. A best practice and regular action should be to make sure travelers know exactly where to find essential information about COVID, civil unrest, extreme weather events, terrorism, economic risks, cybersecurity breaches and other disruptions.
Risk and disruptions can occur at any time. Share these helpful guides with your travelers to help them manager their safety at every stage of the journey.
COVID-19 Information Hub
Get ready to go
A resource to help keep travelers safe in today’s heightened risk environments. With real-time information on constantly changing rules, laws and procedures for traveling during the pandemic.
- Country risk levels and requirements
- Hotel and airline information, including cleaning protocols, testing requirements, necessary health certifications, quarantine rules and more
- Information detailing vaccination percentage complete by population by country
- Information included for airlines participating in digital health document trials
- Multi-language functionality
Duty of care and traveler wellbeing have consistently ranked as the top program priorities for travel buyers over the past two years.* Though wellbeing is an acknowledged concern, programs don’t often reflect it. While 90% of business travelers say employee wellbeing is a priority at their company, only 50% feel that their company provides traveler wellbeing support.* Employee wellbeing must move higher up the agenda. Otherwise, employers risk damage to employee physical and mental health and decreasing job satisfaction. Managing employee risks accordingly could translate into competitive advantage for any organization.
*Source: BCD Travel online survey of 875 business travelers, Feb 2022.
How travel program priorities are changing
We’ve surveyed our buyers multiple times since the pandemic to understand how their travel program priorities are shifting to meet company and traveler needs. Duty of care has remained consistently important, as has sustainability. Buyers are indicating that savings and cost control are less important.
Make wellbeing part of the program
- Tailor messaging to advise travelers of convenient health and wellness options: hotel gyms, nearby parks with jogging paths, juice bars, walking tours and more.
- Add health-oriented hotels to your supplier mix and promote their offerings with travelers.
- Ask travelers for feedback. Does your program help them stay healthy on the road? What increases their stress level before a trip?
Is employee wellbeing a priority at your company?
Top 5 challenges to introducing wellbeing policies
Source: BCD Travel online survey of 118 travel buyers, March 2022.
Help at your fingertips
Duty of care technology innovations have solved for some of the challenges of the past. Smart, automated systems and solutions that work seamlessly across the program have replaced manual, one-dimensional processes and fragmented content sources. Smart technologies include:
- BCD Alert and COVID-19 Hub
- ‘I’m Safe’ mobile check in capabilities
- Automated trip authorization
- Interactive security maps
- Location-based risk notifications
Cyber threats and their potential impact continue to grow. Many travel managers already recognize the importance of cybersecurity, placing it at the front of their TMC relationship. But they also need to protect their company and travelers from active cyberthreats. The first step is to recognize cybersecurity as a daily risk to travel and take responsibility for tackling it. Prevention, or minimizing the impact, will pay dividends over simply responding to cyber incidents after the damage has been done. Second, as employees are often the weakest point in a company’s defense, it’s highly recommended that travelers receive proper security training and follow the right precautions when taking a business trip.
Digital health passes
Digital health passes (DHPs) emerged in the pandemic as a tool to help validate the authenticity of travelers’ COVID test results and vaccination records. Though not mandatory, DHPs have an important role to play in restoring mobility and confidence in travel for governments and travelers alike.
Multi-national organizations, airlines, independent agencies and governments have been busy developing DHPs but none have been fully deployed. Airlines have developed interim short-term solutions aimed at easing the burden for passengers and airport staff, but many continue to trial (often multiple) digital health passes on select routes.
TIP: Travelers can use the Airport & Travel Supplier Policies section of our COVID-19 Information Hub to find out what DHP an airline or country requests for travel.
What you can do
What BCD Travel is doing
When you put a good duty of care strategy into place, grounded in data and sound advice, you can operate daily with the assurance that you'll have the tools you need to communicate and act when anything – from a minor trip disruption to a major crisis – affects your travelers.
Director, Global Crisis Management, BCD Travel