What is Travel Risk Management?

Travel risk management (TRM) is a proactive, all-inclusive, and consistent approach to safeguarding people and the organisation from various travel risks. It is a collection of policies and procedures, all of which function together to lower the risk of business travel. It helps to decrease the exposure of the travel company to liability and financial risk and ensuring the safety of employees who are traveling.

Travel risk management consists of five pillars, which are as follows:

  • A business travel safety, health, and overall security policy: Many travel companies already adhere to a safety and security policy, but every organization has to have a specific set of policies pertaining to business travel.
  • Safety and security information: Travel companies must provide advice on the basis of trustworthy travel information, which should be communicated to travelers before they go on a business trip.
  • Restrictions on trips to high-risk countries: Travel companies must have a proper plan in place to control the travel of people to high-risk countries. However, they may define “high-risk” distinctly based on their appetite for corporate risk.
  • Knowing where their people are: In the event of any security, safety, or health situation, companies must be able to reach out to their travelers to make sure that they are safe and provide them with the much-needed support.
  • A crisis management plan: This is meant for times when things go against plans.

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care encapsulates a broad range of roles and responsibilities that a travel manager must fulfill in order to protect their business travelers from any kind of harm. It is a legal and moral obligation to guarantee the safety and well-being of people. Here’s why it’s important for travel companies to keep the duty of care in mind:

  • Employers in a business organization are required by law to provide a reasonable standard of care for all their employees.
  • Travelers who feel that they are being looked after are more productive and happier.
  • Almost all business travelers face difficulties or unforeseen disruptions of their plans at some point.
  • The company’s status, reputation, and their bottom lines are often at stake.

The difference between travel risk management and duty of care:

Although most corporate travel companies use the terms “travel management” and “duty of care” interchangeably, the above definitions clearly show both terms are distinctly different.

While the duty of care is the legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of travelers, travel risk management lays down the course of action that helps travel companies fulfill their obligation. However, just because there’s a difference between travel risk management and duty of care, it does not mean that one component of corporate travel is more important than the other.

As a matter of fact, it’s important for all corporate travel companies to have a full-fledged, well-developed travel risk management program as well as a duty of care policy in place.


Who’s responsible?

Several business owners, particularly those who operate smaller organizations, feel burdened for most of the travel risk management and duty of care.

In small companies, these responsibilities are bestowed on the CEO itself, or on the secretary who planned the travel of the employees.

In these cases, the organization should consult a third-party HR professional to make sure that the company’s policies are sufficient and up-to-date.

For larger, more complex organizations having multiple departments that also send employees abroad regularly, responsibilities for travel risk management and duty of care could fall virtually on all departments. Security intelligence, legal, HR, insurance, and communications are just a few of the departments that get involved in bearing the responsibility.

Duty of Care is accomplished through a Travel Risk Management policy.

To make it clear, here’s an analogy you should consider: an aircraft has emergency lighting and exit doors, flotation aids, and inflatable rafts. All these items designed to protect passengers from any kind of harm if an emergency situation arises during the flight. These items essentially represent an aircraft’s duty of care.

However, they are considered useless if passengers don’t know where these items are placed on the plane or how exactly to use them.

So, a flight provides a safety briefing before every takeoff to educate passengers about these safety features and how to use them. This safety briefing is the plane’s travel risk management plan. Merely having a duty of care is useless without travel risk management plans. For airlines, both are required to fully safeguard the well-being of passengers.

What are companies doing or should do?

It’s easy to imagine only catastrophic events like terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and civic unrest when thinking of travel risk management and duty of care. More often than not, this leaves everyday risks out of plans.

Situations like non-violent petty crime, food poisoning, or traffic accidents are highly opportunistic for travelers than a hurricane, tsunami, or another major catastrophe. Some policy changes can be made to include these highly common risks.

A positive indication in the duty of care realm is the increase in the number of companies who are using mass notifications and employee tracking for their mobile employees. When any incident takes place, companies seek to know who is at risk and whether they are okay. Employers must provide pre-travel briefings, travel safety training, mobile notifications, and round-the-clock access to a helpline number for assistance. On the other hand, employees should get the peace of mind that they know what needs to be done and when, and how.

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