Travel Security: Assessing the Risk and Managing a Crisis

Travel risk assessments have become a critical component of any enterprise’s travel policy. If your employees travel outside their country of origin, you need to make sure they stay safe. Travel risk assessments also ensure that your company is not held liable should anything happen to your traveler. Assessing the risk becomes especially important if anyone directly or indirectly associated with your business deploys to a high-risk locale. You have a duty of care to ensure that people working on your behalf remain protected. You need to take every reasonable precaution to make sure that they stay safe.

Travel risk assessments should address more than just crime. The reports should contain up-to-date and relevant information related to keeping a person safe. A good report will have several sections, including but not limited to:

  • Crime
  • Political stability
  • Industrial espionage threat
  • Medical
  • Infrastructure support
  • Recommendations

The recommendations section is the most critical. A good assessment with realistic and relevant recommendations requires authorship by someone with the appropriate security credentials and regional experience. Ideally, whoever provides the report will have access to timely information about the country or city visited.

If you rely on a contracted security firm to provide the assessment, they usually can assist you in finding any local support that may help you mitigate the risk. For example, you may need to source armored cars or vetted drivers. Security consultants can be useful in helping you select the best or most security hotel in the location you visit also.

Travel crisis management is another area where proactive thought and attention will assist enterprises in securing their people. If a company not only has crisis management plans in place that address travel crisis management but also exercise these plans, you significantly lower the risk to personnel and company assets when traveling.

Consider adding a travel crisis management section to your business continuity plans, especially if your company conducts a lot of business abroad. The plans should address things like emergency medical evacuation, press releases, brand protection, family support and more. Your Human Resources (HR) department should be intimately involved in the planning and implementation of any policies. HR plays a big role whenever a crisis abroad occurs.

Training your senior staff in travel crisis management is important also. Unless your managers have had experience in working with foreign police, government and security officials, they will be at a disadvantage if they have not been trained. This is another area where you need to find a professional security consultant that specializes in providing crisis management training.

Many times company leaderships do not want to take the time to participate in any training. You want to make it as easy as possible, and perhaps consider incentivizing attendance, ensure everyone participates. For example, one Fortune 50 company in the United States has a list of required training courses employees should attend each year. Each course is offered several times a year at the employee’s duty station. The employee’s bonus is tied to completing all the basic or refresher courses each year. If the worker completes them all, then they receive 100% of their bonus.

Managing travel risk is an important part of any company’s operating requirements. Ensuring that you have the right procedures and policies in place to assess the risk and to deal with any crisis that might occur will lessen the likelihood of permanent damage to your brand or your corporate reputation.

A robust travel security program will, more importantly, minimize the risk to your staff when they travel.