How the ground transport sector is helping address duty of care issues

TBR Global Chauffeuring, group CEO, Craig Chambers, discusses the ongoing focus on duty of care responsibilities within the business travel industry and looks at what ground transportation providers should be prioritising to help their clients meet these obligations.

As we come to the end of 2016 and attentions turn to next year, ‘duty of care’ is still very much high on the agenda for the business travel industry and the increasing use of app-based providers, such as Uber across the world and Lyft in the US, has brought the spotlight onto ground transportation.

Corporate social responsibility has always been a hot topic that in the past has focussed on eco-sustainability and minimising environmental impact. This has developed to incorporate protecting the health and safety of travellers, including personal security, with companies having an obligation to ensure that employees engaging in business travel are delivered safely to their destination.

The concept of duty of care and passenger security is multifaceted and several varying aspects must be addressed to adhere to a comprehensive policy.

With the ever-increasing use of social media and high speed digital communications giving us front row seats to acts of terrorism and atrocities from across the world, it is easy to assume that ‘duty of care’ for ground transport in today’s climate amounts to armoured cars and added layers of security personnel.

In reality, a very small percentage of business travellers seek or indeed require this level of service, which is normally restricted to countries or areas deemed as high-risk, or for high profile individuals such as royalty or certain politicians.

For the clear majority of travel bookers, priorities will be the security of financial and personal data, proof of appropriate passenger insurances and vehicle licenses, live tracking of journeys anywhere in the world and the ongoing screening of both drivers and vehicles.

From a passenger point of view, the seamless end-to-end service between home, flight, car journey and hotel check-in is a priority.

It is vital the ground transportation provider offers a bespoke service as no two client requirements are the same. Thorough quality control checks and adapting to suit each journey on a case-by-case basis is paramount to success and passenger satisfaction.

From the matter-of-course pre-journey preparation such as the driver’s knowledge of the job requirements and standard quality control checks, to more advanced requisites like pre-travel safety advice, knowledge of local embassies and emergency services and secure driving techniques, it is essential that all bookings are individually evaluated.

The location of the booking is the initial litmus test for security levels potentially involved. While the obvious higher risk areas such as certain parts of Africa, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East would most likely call for security trained local drivers and additional close protection officers (CPOs), such measures would probably not be needed for a standard airport transfer in a European city.

However, with recent acts of terrorism in cities such as Brussels and Paris, it is important that chauffeurs are aware of their surroundings and can identify potential threats or compromising situations, removing their vehicle and passengers from the area as swiftly and safely as possible, should the need arise.

To address the growing and varied needs of our clients, we developed the TBR Secure product, with a dedicated team assessing the risk involved in each booking and making expert recommendations based on details such as location, size of party, itinerary and passenger status.

Often this is about personalised pre-travel risk assessments and contingency route planning rather than the full security ‘package’ of CPOs and tactical, evasive driving.

The objective is not to scaremonger, but to give our clients peace of mind by ensuring a safe, relaxing and timely journey.

Ultimately, it is about understanding what the client wants, assessing their requirements with respect to duty of care and giving informed advice on service levels.

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