We've combed the world's most popular travel blogs to find the top five security and safety tips for corporate travelers. We also suggest a solution for busy corporate travel managers that can reduce the volume of travel administration and enhance the level of protection for traveling employees.
Traveling can be fun for employees, but it can also be dangerous. When your employees are traveling abroad to meet clients, there can be numerous things on their mind that take priority over personal safety. They might be too busy thinking about the presentation they need to deliver or the objections they might face during their meeting.
Because of these distractions, the most common threats to corporate travelers are non-violent crime (i.e. pickpocketing), traffic accidents (due to driving while distracted) and food poisoning. They are not “exciting threats”, but they happen every day - even in so-called “safe” destinations such as Europe.
Therefore, whereas many articles offering security and travel tips for corporate travelers advise travelers to stay clear of countries in the midst of a civil war, we would like to give our attention to the “everyday” threats statistically more likely to result in loss, injury, or a need for medical attention.
The Top 5 Security and Safety Tips for Corporate Travelers
Our top security and safety tips for corporate travelers have been compiled with both travelers and travel managers in mind. Naturally the tips don't cover every possible scenario, but our common sense approach to security and safety should protect travelling employees in most circumstances.
There is No Substitute for Solid Preparation.
If your employee has not visited their destination previously, it is essential theyresearch its location, the area around theirhotel, and safe neighborhoods to explore. The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs has an excellent website for general information; but for more localized and up-to-date information, the best source is the community forums on Trip Advisor.
Once the trip is planned, copies of their passport, travel documents, insurance, driver's license, credit card and itinerary should be scanned and saved to an online source where they can be easily retrieved if they are lost or stolen. The online source should be accessible by both your employee and you in case they are incapacitated during their trip.
Your employee should also prepare a directory of telephone numbers they may need during their trip. This directory should also be accessible to you as the corporate travel manager and include the numbers for airline(s) they are flying with, hotel(s) they are staying at, car hire firms, clients they are meeting and other key contact information. Emergency services numbers are dealt with below.
Remind your employees to not make themselves an easy mark for petty crime.
If your employees are smart enough to negotiate international airports, they probably don't need telling not to stand out from the crowd by wearing expensive jewelry or carrying top-of-the-range luggage. However, what they might not realize is that they can be most vulnerable to pickpockets and other petty criminals when their security awareness is at its highest.
A seasoned international traveler wrote an interesting post on Quora.com in which she explained how petty criminals loiter around signs warning of the presence of pickpockets. The natural instinct when you see one of these signs is to check your jacket, pants, or other pockets to make sure your valuables are secure - showing the petty criminals exactly where your valuables are located.
The author of the post advocates keeping valuables in unusual places (although she doesn't suggest where) and resisting the temptation to check your jacket, pants or other pockets when you see the warning signs. This is one of those valuable security and safety tips for travelers that is equally as valuable in domestic situations as when your employees are traveling abroad.
Stress the importance of best cybersecurity practices.
Most articles offering security and travel tips for corporate travelers fail to take account of cybercrime. According to the FBI, cybercrime is responsible for the theft of around $300 billion in intellectual property and business intelligence each year - a figure that may well be underestimated due to businesses failing to report thefts because of reputational damage and loss of investor confidence.
Cybercrime is a real hazard “on the road” due to corporate travelers using unsecured Wi-Fi services and treating publicly-accessible Internet connections the same as if they were secure workplace networks. In 2016, a survey by Kaspersky Lab's revealed business travelers are more likely to be mugged of valuable private and corporate data than of their travel money.
According to the survey, one in five people have been a target of cybercrime while abroad, rising to almost a third of senior business managers. Kaspersky Labs attributes the higher rate of “senior” vulnerability to business managers remotely logging in as quickly as possible upon arrival because there is an expectation they will stay connected during their trip.
Make it easy for your employees to let you know where they are at key times.
Even though travel managers might have a copy of an employee's itinerary, it is a best practice to have a channel of communication available at key times so they can let you know when they are departing the hotel or arriving at a meeting. The reason for checking in at these key times is because these are the occasions employees are likely to be exposed to the highest level of danger.
Whenever you read reports about travelers going missing, their disappearance is often not noticed until days later - giving local law enforcement little to go on. However, if you were to message your manager to let them know you were leaving your hotel, and expected to arrive at your destination within thirty minutes, your manager would be instantly aware something had happened if you failed to check in.
A dedicate channel of communication can also be of value to alert corporate travelers of local disruptions they should keep clear of. Alert notifications can also communicate bad weather, terrorist attacks and other emergency scenarios that could affect your safety while travelling abroad.
Get emergency help to your employees when something goes wrong.
Despite preparing solidly and implementing travel best practices, there are times when things go wrong. For example, no matter how carefully you have researched, it is impossible to tell when you may be served a dish of poorly prepared shellfish. In these circumstances, it is important to have access to English-speaking emergency services and to inform your manager of the problem.
Telephone numbers for English speaking emergency services should be researched in advance and programmed into your employee's phone. Where a texting service exists similar to text-to-911, that number should also be included if it differs from the voice call number.
A Simple Solution for Busy Corporate Travel Managers
While some apps are excellent for when you are badly hurt in an accident, you could end up downloading apps for every circumstance you are likely to encounter on your travels - e.g. apps exist for Trip Advisor, secure communications, and emergency notifications. Alternatively, a simple solution for busy corporate travel managers is an employee safety app that ties directly to corporate safety resources.
An employee safety app enables corporate travel managers to keep all the resources each traveler will need in a secure content portal that can be accessed both via the app and online. The app can also be used to send and receive messages securely using the same encryption technologies as used by leading financial institutions.
With regard to checking in during travels, some apps have a virtual safety timer that - once activated - counts down to zero before sending an alarm to travel managers. You can track the location of your employee's phone through the management portal and alert emergency services to their lack of response - saving valuable time in providing essential help, and possibly saving their life.
Your employee will also be able to receive geo-targeted alert notifications via the app, and get emergency help when something goes wrong with two taps of your smartphone screen. Effectively, a robust employee safety app can be your employee's virtual travel companion wherever they go - enhancing their level of protection, and providing a reliable means of communication if ever they need assistance.
Addressing Traveling Worker Safety Challenges
In October 2016, Ipsos MORI conducted a global survey targeted to those who organize, influence, or are responsible for their business's travel and risk mitigation policies. The survey (PDF) found the three biggest challenges to protecting corporate travelers are:
• Educating employees about travel risks.
• Communicating with employees during a crisis.
• Tracking employee travel and their whereabouts.
An employee safety that can integrate with your corporate emergency notification system is the simple way to address these challenges with minimal administration and easy implementation.
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