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Safe from harm 

The startling coup in Turkey, increased tensions between world leaders, and the journey towards Brexit have all contributed to a feeling of an increasingly precarious global political climate in 2016. Add the ever-present risk of terrorism to the mix and the spotlight on traveller safety takes centre stage. Keeping business travellers safe has always been paramount, but has never been more topical.

 

“Safety and security have always been of the utmost importance, but these unsettled times have sharpened the focus,” explains Samantha Simmons, manager of the 24 Hour Service Centre at London Heathrow, for Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

 

Information underpins the ability to keep travellers safe, she points out, with knowledge and data running throughout the process from pre-trip planning to real-time updates.

 

Do your research                                                            

Pre-trip destination research is vital to developing a high-level risk analysis and mitigation plan, adds Samantha: “A small amount of preparation can save time and unnecessary confusion if a traveller is faced with a disruption event.

 

“By having a plan in place, your travellers can remain calm and objective and follow the policy, rather than it becoming a stressful and panicked situation.”

 

Training in crisis management and pre-trip security briefings can be helpful, as long as they are low-key and balanced, with an emphasis on avoiding risks, advises the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. And while preparation is key, technology can play a major role in backing up protocols around travel risk.

 

Harness technology                                                            

Traveller tracking and automated communication – through SMS, mobile app or email - is at the forefront of keeping staff safe, but GBTA Foundation research1 has uncovered that only 34 per cent of organisations can locate travellers who book outside of an online booking tool or TMC.

 

In addition, only three per cent of organisations can locate travellers in real-time if they don’t have a travel risk policy in place, while 23 per cent say they don’t know how long it would take them to find an employee.

 

“Traveller tracking is an absolute priority for our clients,” acknowledges Samantha. “They need instant access to real-time data. Using an application such as CWT AnalytIQs means travel managers can obtain bespoke reporting and track their own travellers.”

 

Flexibility is also crucial, especially if travel needs rebooking, and having a local contact can be extremely valuable. Ultimately, Samantha reassures: “Being prepared, well-informed and staying objective will help travellers and travel managers make confident decisions in any kind of disruption event.”

 

Keep your travellers safe

Preparation is key – a pre-trip checklist ensures even the most seasoned traveller has everything they need.

Have an authorised booker in place who can override limits on corporate cards, or give the green light to alternative payment methods if needed.

Provide important information and contact details on a physical wallet card as well as in digital format – it never hurts to have back-up.

Keep an eye on the social channels of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and reputable media outlets to stay abreast of developments – multiple sources of information can provide a clearer picture.

Work with a local contact on the ground – CWT has seven 24 Hour Service Centres in the EMEA region providing support to travellers and travel managers, as well as a further three offering extended hours.