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BBT Forum: communication key to effective risk management

Having a risk management policy is “pointless” without effective communication with your travellers, the BBT Forum in Dublin has heard.

Speaking on a panel at last week’s event held at The Gresham Hotel in Dublin, travel buyer for the Defence Forces Ireland, Alan Bermingham, said threats in the world are changing and it’s important to have a strategy that can be implemented in all areas your travellers may visit.

“Recently there have been high risk incidents in areas such as Paris and Tunisia so ensure your travellers know your policy before they travel anywhere,” said Bermingham.

“At the Irish Defence Forces we developed a policy from top down, then it’s important you don’t put it in a drawer but communicate it throughout your organisation.”

He added by doing this effectively it gives your travellers confidence that they know what to do if an incident occurs.

“There is so much ambiguity around what to do in an incident with so many people, media outlets, business leaders giving their opinions, which can confuse travellers, so ensure each of them knows exactly what your policy states when a crisis hits.”

Bermingham was speaking on a panel which included Helen Fyfe, key account manager, Lufthansa and Bepi Gaidoni, VP regional operations at BCD Travel. They were discussing managing travel disruption and how best to handle traveller communications in a variety of situations.

Leading the discussion was director of travel partnerships at International SOS, Nicola Lomas, who cited research which found that 46 per cent of buyers didn’t know their companies travel risk policy or what action to take when an incident occurred.

She asked buyers at the forum to offer any advice on effectively communicating the policy. One from a multinational firm said one of the most important issues is ensuring all your traveller profiles are always up-to-date. “I will hold my travellers’ hand throughout the process to ensure it’s all complete as it’s pointless having traveller profiles if all the information is out of date.”

Another buyer who worked for a global organisation said the key to an effective plan is “simplicity”.

“Create a communication plan with simple processes such as having your phone charged. Think about simple and practical advice and be involved with your HR or global security teams.”

Lufthansa’s Fyfe said technology has improved communication when disruption occurs and urged buyers to “learn how effective certain tools can be in a crisis”.

“Technology has really helped in the past few years so when there’s a cancellation or gate change mobile technology allows us to get that information as quickly as possible to the traveller.”

Bepi from BCD spoke about one of the most recent health scares, the Zika virus. “The recent health scare around Zika will have a profound impact. It’s scary and it’s hitting our shores, there are areas that will become no-go zones for our travellers.”

The next BBT Forum will be held on May 19 in London.

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