Director of sales, SAP Concur.
With business travel more common than ever before, it’s important for employees to know how they can take responsibility for ensuring their own safe travel, and the role their employer should play.
Considerations for how to ensure safe business travel have changed as the makeup of who is travelling for work has changed. Of the increasing number of employees travelling for business, women account for nearly 40 per cent. These women believe they face greater risks than their male co-workers when travelling. A recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) report found 83 per cent of the female business travellers surveyed had experienced a safety-related event within that year. Yet only 18 per cent of travel policies specifically address female safety and security.
In my decade of travelling for business, I’ve encountered both men and women who have experienced some sort of safety-related incident while travelling. These incidents span from health and safety issues to natural disasters, sexual harassment, theft and cultural issues.
With proper planning and preparation, many of these safety risks can be avoided. Beyond the standard travel preparations of planning transportation to and from the airport, ensuring you arrive with local currency in hand and learning the customs in your destination, it’s important for business travellers to know what resources are available should they encounter a difficult situation.
Technology can help you
Technology and new innovations have made safety and security much easier to access for corporate travellers and their employers. Many organizations offer various technological tools that employees can use to ensure safer and easier travel, in addition to the everyday apps we’ve become accustomed to using in our personal travel.
Travel risk management solutions can capture employees’ itineraries, monitoring for adverse situations and subsequently locate an employee and communicate with them during an emergency.
A more common problem is the language barrier in a foreign country. Thankfully, translation apps can translate a photo or interpret a voice to help you translate in countries where you don’t speak the language. Technology has made it easier to book your rides, map your way across a city and maintain constant communication in the event of an emergency. Initiating a 911 or SOS alert is easy to do no matter where you are in the world.
Your company can help you
Employers of every size are required to protect and take responsibility for the safety of their travelling employees. This moral and legal obligation is called duty of care.
Women should be vocal and advocate for their safety. A company’s travel policy and risk-management policy should include processes that identify and assess travel risks, strategies to mitigate these risks, and procedures to respond rapidly and effectively to all events and emergencies. Your company should provide you with a package or briefing prior to your trip that includes a detailed itinerary, contingency plan in the case of emergency and information regarding any destination-specific risks.
Many businesses also have offices or affiliate companies in different cities and countries. Always check to see if your company has a local office where you’ll be visiting. This gives you a familiar place to visit and people who can assist you should you need it.
There are many steps you can take to minimize risks when travelling for business. While it is your company’s duty-of-care responsibility to keep you safe when travelling for business, it is always in your best interest to prepare yourself. Even if your company has the most comprehensive travel risk management program on the market, our unpredictable world means no travel will ever be completely risk-free. Being proactive and knowing the tools and technology available to you can be key in ensuring your safety when travelling for business.
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