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Travel Risk Management

A well-organized travel risk management process guarantees the highest safety level for employees on assignment abroad and minimizes corporate liability.

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The business world is rapidly expanding, and in this fast paced and globalized environment, every company is faced with the challenges of travelling abroad. Be it for a short or a long period of time, corporate travel is often a necessity: for example, that may be the case if a company owns a foreign branch, or has a foreign partner, or is planning to attend an international conference or fair.

However, any kind of company travel cannot be programmed without taking into consideration its risks: it is of course a company’s responsibility to send its staff abroad safely, as to not cause damage to travelers, or to its own interests.

Hence, ensuring a perfectly safe corporate travel for all the employees should be the main goal of any company and any travel manager.

The many challenges of corporate travel

What are then the challenges and risks that business travel involves? What problems could business travel come to face during their period abroad?

Of course, those may depend on the country of destination, as some geographical areas might be more dangerous than others, but generally speaking, many issues can arise especially in the following domains (as outlined by the international standard ISO 31030):

  • travel destination or circumstances/risks at the travel destination;
  • accommodation;
  • travel route;
  • travel itinerary;
  • travel duration;
  • traveler and organizational profile;
  • relevant geopolitical circumstances;
  • relevant government/regulatory advice;
  • cyber threats;
  • significant cultural and religious differences;
  • access to critical infrastructure and resources;
  • contextual risk factors such as extreme weather, natural disaster, conflict, epidemic/pandemic, reliability of communications, etc.

Therefore, all of those aspects need to be taken into consideration before any business travel. But how can companies manage employee travel and cover all of these possible areas travel risk?

This can only be done if a company puts into practice a travel risk management process.

Travel risk management process

A travel risk management process has the following objectives, which can be defined as the sum of 3 steps:

  • first, a company should analyze the specific context and situation of their destination country;
  • then, it should determine its predominant challenges and risks (travel risk assessment);
  • finally, it should put into practice the necessary measures to manage and mitigate those risks (travel risk treatment).

Analyze context and situation of the destination country

For the preliminary step, it is first and foremost important to be able to collect reliable, relevant and updated information on the country of destination.

Those should preferably come from not just one but a series of impartial sources, and be constantly monitored in order to detect any change that could impact the business travel.

This step should take into account all the topics listed above, as to not miss any possible cause of trouble for travelers.

Travel risk assessment to determine challenges and risks

The second step is what can be defined as the proper travel risk assessment: after collecting the information, a company should be able to provide a report which highlights the risks which are more likely to occur in a particular geographical area.

This can be intended as a sort of a risk assessment checklist, so a series of issues, peculiarities and problems that any traveler needs to be informed about, in order to gain a full understanding of its upcoming challenges.

This list, however, should not be presented in a random way, but efficiently organized, as to be readable and understandable, and also location-based, as to be mostly relevant to the specific area where the business travel will take place.

At this stage, one should be able to determine the overall level of risk for a given location: it would be preferable to put the level of risk on a scale, as to be able to immediately recognize high risk destinations, so locations that present particularly dangerous risks concerning safety, health, natural hazards or any of the areas listed above.

Travel risk treatment to mitigate hazards

Once one has assessed the possible risks, a company, in particular its travel manager, should preferably make an evaluation to determine whether the business travel should take place at all. If corporate confirms the trips, it is then time to try and limit the assessed risks. This is the travel risk treatment step.

At this stage, a series of measures should be put into practice to treat the risks, taking into account the peculiarities of the country of destination, but also the characteristics and necessities of travelers. The result should be a true collection of travel safety guidelines for employees, to guide them in their business trip.

Why companies should perform a travel risk assessment

The benefits of travel risk management are therefore countless. By conducting this policy, a company can:

  • protect its own interest;
  • conduct business in the most efficient way;
  • ensure safe travel to its employees

This will therefore help avoid any kind of legal repercussion.

Indeed, according to the principle of employer duty of care, employers are responsible for the wellbeing of their employees in all circumstances that involve their professional performance, including business travel and foreign assignments.

For more information on the obligations for Italian employers sending their employees abroad, read our guide on Italian health and safety law for assignments abroad.

In order to follow those steps in the most efficient way, and write a correct risk management policy, it is necessary for a company to establish the best practices for a corporate travel policy, which will not leave nothing to chance, and ensure a safe travel for its employees.

Those best practices involve following a strict protocol, which can be best indicated by risk assessment experts.

In this regard, Studio A&P can provide a complete risk assessment service which will help minimize the risks and the challenges of a corporate travel. In particular, the team of specialists will collect relevant and reliable information (from 7 government sources plus 2 health departments) and organizing it in an efficient and clear manner.

Therefore, the team will help the company and its travelers navigate it and provide them with an overall analysis of the risk level of the country.

Furthermore, as we have said before about the urgent need to always have updated information, the Studio commits to monitor sources on a daily basis and to communicate any relevant changes that may impact the corporate travel.

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