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International travel risk management in the pandemic age

As businesses and individuals continue to return to a sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic, some business executives are hesitant to return to business as usual. There is no denying that the pandemic has brought the growing air travel industry to a halt. International travel is projected to grow steadily through 2024, but pre-pandemic forecasts are booming, with global business travel in 2019 projected to grow by 35% over the next decade. .

Pre-pandemic companies were gaining momentum in global travel, just as individuals were planning to travel abroad for pleasure. Companies have experienced globalization like never before, allowing them to conduct business seamlessly around the world. Supply chains are becoming more diversified, with multiple international locations working together for his one common business goal of negotiating, trading and commerce across the globe, and global business travel is still a significant part of the workforce. was a necessity. COVID continues to disrupt international travel, albeit not on the scale we experienced in 2020, but the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts that global travel will reach normalcy by 2024.

Impact of the pandemic on travel

A “wait and see” approach was a common strategy for companies as international travel became an option for teams after the pandemic. The unpredictability of the virus and the resulting protocols implemented by countries made it difficult to develop a firm action plan for corporate travel.

Additionally, the travel experience was a far cry from the pre-pandemic situation. From significant flight delays and cancellations, reduced flight options, limited staff and long wait times, to changes in procedures such as temperature checks, vaccination checkpoints and quarantines, severe delays are inevitable. did. Additionally, COVID restrictions vary and are constantly changing from country to country, creating challenges for employees and businesses traveling internationally.

Another consequence of the pandemic is the rapid shift to virtual collaboration. The digital age has revolutionized business practices for years, but COVID-19 has driven the workforce into a virtual subservient environment that will continue to change the landscape well into 2022 and beyond.

Additionally, the pandemic has caused airlines to act violently and irrationally. For example, in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in 2021 alone he will surpass 5,000, the most unprecedented “air rage” incident in a year. This is the result of a variety of factors, including mask-wearing incidents and spiked stress levels in many aspects of life, from work to personal interactions. People quickly hit a breaking point and became a risk to those around them.

world travel trends

Interestingly, leisure travel has not paused as much as international business travel. People are eager to get back to vacation planning, and planned leisure trips in 2022 have surpassed his actual trips in 2019. Unfortunately, for budget vacationers, planning a trip isn’t always cheap. This has been his trend since the beginning of 2022, which came as a bit of a surprise as the Omicron variant of COVID was still impacting business and travel, but leisure travel continues to grow and is still it is.

Outlook for global travel risks

Preparation is key when sending travelers abroad. As an example, it’s important for companies to proactively plan what to do if an employee becomes sick with COVID-19 or another illness while traveling. An assessment of Covid risk by location should be adopted as part of a corporate travel risk assessment program. From sending travelers quick tests for COVID to providing travelers with Travel Health her kit to support their health, it’s the employer’s job to support travelers heading into the unknown. .

Beyond COVID-19, there are other considerations and new travel risks to worry about. The following are key factors to consider in order to reduce corporate travel risk.

  • legal: “Duty of care” means doing “reasonably practicable” to protect the health and safety of employees while traveling, which extends to providing a safe working environment for travelers, including hotels, airlines, car rentals, etc. legal responsibility to do all Providing information about potential travel hazards is an important corporate deliverable for avoiding legal risks.
  • health: The new coronavirus is not the only health risk of international travel. Unfortunately, there are some medical risks associated with it. Waterborne and foodborne illnesses, illnesses, mental health risks, and the dangers of treatment abroad all pose threats. All employees must travel with a first aid kit and see a travel health professional, ideally at least 6 weeks prior to her international travel, to ensure recommended vaccinations take effect. must have received. In addition, it is key to have international medical insurance with evacuation coverage.
  • transportation: Many countries present myriad risks and challenges that corporate travelers are often ill-prepared for. From lack of roadside emergency assistance, to very poor road safety infrastructure, to dangerous drivers/situations, employees must be prepared to drive in foreign locations or have reliable transportation available. Infrastructure hazards are one of the biggest causes of fatal vehicle accidents worldwide, and employees are encouraged to avoid driving altogether by using a safe and reputable driving service. .
  • Espionage activity: Corporate espionage is alive and well in the 21st centuryst century. Travelers are at higher risk of being targeted while traveling. Travelers are increasingly exposed to cyber threats. Certain governments/organizations deploy their personnel and technology to steal valuable classified information from their executives. Hotels and conference venues are vulnerable when teams gather to discuss sensitive business information in an international arena where competitors and foreign intelligence agencies may be active. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect privacy in a foreign country.
  • Emerging travel risks: The following are on the rise globally and should be included in travel risk assessment and mitigation strategies: politically motivated abduction/detention of travelers by state actors, natural disasters, traveler cyber risks, kidnappings are all May affect global travel security/safety.

How to manage global travel risk

All organizations are exposed to some degree of risk, but the question is what businesses can do in the travel space to minimize this. Depending on the budget, business leaders can implement several key strategies.

  • they can practice risk aversion
  • they can transfer the risk to another party
  • can choose to mitigate risk
  • they can simply accept the risk

As part of our comprehensive approach to managing global risk, we would advise our clients to implement the following travel risk program elements:

1- Travel Policy and Procedures

2- Traveler security/crisis training

3- Travel location risk assessment

4- Risk Mitigation Services (on-site protection services)

5- 24/7 global risk monitoring

6- 24/7 notification/communication function

7- RESPONSE PLAN AND RESPONSE CAPABILITIES

Travel risks will continue to rise amid political instability, rising crime rates and medical travel restrictions. As businesses around the world resume normal business travel, stronger security measures must be taken to ensure the safety of employees and the security of business information. A strategically planned travel security program is required, requiring regular reassessment to reduce traveler vulnerability and long-term business impact. Now is the time for executives to implement rigorous travel risk management policies and procedures to avoid unnecessary travel risk issues. Documentation is very important to ensure that all employees understand the support and safety precautions necessary for a successful international trip. Is your team ready for global success?

About the author: Robert Dodge is CEO of Prosegur Global Risk Services, a key business unit of the world’s third largest security company, leading a team that advises some of the world’s largest organizations on risk management and security strategy. Prior to joining Prosegur, he served as Global President of Corporate Risk Services at G4S and Senior Vice President International at Pinkerton, where he served for 14 years and oversaw all of Pinkerton’s international offices and operations. I was in charge. Robert started his career in the United States Navy.