Travel risk management in an age of fear

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Travel industry analysts Skift call it “the State of Permanxiety”, a near-constant state of anxiety that exists now around the world. And, it’s impacting business travelers. More than ever before, companies must review and optimize their travel risk management plan.

Exceptional events like the recent series of terror attacks across Europe or the political unrest in Catalonia turn our attention to the safety of our travels. Media talks about it constantly, contributing to the State of Permanxiety. Real of just perceived, this an age of fear.

Leisure travelers can choose where and how they want to travel, but business travelers go where they’re told, regardless of the state of the world. Increased threat leavels and extraordinary security measures like the recent laptop ban create new worries for business travelers, who already deal with the stress and discomfort associated with travel.

While the vast majority (85%) of corporate travel programs include risk management protocols, three in ten (29%) Travel Managers report they do not know how long it would take to locate affected employees in a crisis, according to a recent study released by the GBTA Foundation.

"Three in ten (29%) Travel Managers report they do not know how long it would take to locate affected employees in a crisis."

To evaluate the effectiveness of their travel risk management plans, Travel Managers should ask themselves two simple questions: Are you able to pinpoint where your travelers are? Can you locate and communicate with your travelers at any time?

Travel risk management: A quick guide

Duty of care is a moral obligation and travel risk management is the course of action to provide that. While no plan can fully mitigate the risk inherent to travel, here are a series of steps to build an effective management plan.

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Establish a task force 

Travel risk management is a company-wide cooperative effort. Travel Managers may take the lead, but building a rock solid plan involves many different departments and functions. Legal, Finance, HR and Communications must contribute to a successful travel risk management plan, and will have specific duties before, during and after a crisis.

Determine risks and understand risk exposure

Different companies have different needs, and their travelers will be exposed to different risks. Some send employees to high-risk locations, while others may just deal with domestic travel. Drawing company-specific scenarios will facilitate building response plans.

Mitigate risks when possible

Not all risks can be mitigated and no company can entirely protect its employees’ safety. However, it is important to remain realistic and understand every risk situation is not newsworthy and incidents, such as terror attacks, are rare and highly unlikely. The majority of travelers will be impacted by ordinary events, for example, an accident while driving a rental or stolen laptop and luggage.

Ask travelers to update their profiles

Make sure all your travelers’ profiles are up-to-date and include current contact details and new-of-kin information. You might need to solve certain data privacy issues, but HR and Legal can take care of those.

Provide a handy checklist to your travelers 

When an incident happens, your travelers might not remember what they need to do. Who are they going to call? Write down a list of actions to take in case of emergency. You can provide a pocket-sized company hand book for travel that can be taken away. Include key contacts, emergency phone numbers, and process in case of problems. Or you can display this information in a company branded luggage tag. Don’t forget to make everything avaiable on line too.

Policy compliance

Travel policy is not just about budgets and company savings. Compliance is important because when travelers use company preferred booking channels, all trip information is properly stored and easily accessible in one place. This way, Travel Managers are able to quickly locate employees when needed.


As any other company policy, active communication is crucial. Establish regular communication with your travelers through the year.

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