Universities and NGO workers want their employers to develop a clearer and more effective risk strategy as they express greater sensitivity towards the dangers of business travel.

A study from TMC Key Travel, which specialises in the humanitarian and academic sectors, found almost half of the 2,000 respondents felt global incidents, political unrest and viral outbreaks had impacted the sense of security they or their colleagues felt when travelling.

While over a third of respondents (a drop of nearly 10 per cent from last year) are not put off travelling to higher-risk places, nearly two thirds stated that world events impacted their decision to travel.

However, the study showed the procedures behind such communications were less clear, with half of respondents stating they were either unaware of an established procedure to follow in an emergency situation or that a procedure didn’t exist at all.

“As our year-end data suggests, there is still a fair bit of work to be done in helping organisations be better prepared to provide employees with the right level of care,” said John O’Sullivan, Key Travel’s group marketing director.

“A formal travel risk policy, enforced risk assessments and clear well-communicated protocols play a useful role in increasing sense of safety and security across third sector organisations. To address inconsistencies and gaps within organisational risk management policies and processes, these must be robust and carefully applied,” he added.

The annual study from Key Travel with travellers and buyers aimed to get a better understanding of how NGOs and universities are managing travel-related risk within their organisations and how employees feel about travelling in a riskier environment.

Key Travel 8 quick tips to ‘supercharge’ travel risk management programmes

  1.     Start with having the risk policy written up, make it widely available in print and online, and have it embedded in travel policy to ensure that compliance to one automatically means compliance to the other
  2.     Create a team consisting of one person from each department and make one person responsible for executing that policy and communicating it to the institution’s Travel Management Company and other suppliers, to ensure compliance
  3.     Approach high risk and low risk destinations with the same care and attention – the institution and their employees need to be equally prepared for travel to both
  4.     The message should come from the top, for example the Vice Chancellor or Chief Executive, to ensure that best practice permeates throughout the organisation. This promotes compliance to a policy that should be mandated
  5.     Assess the health of employees before sending them overseas for periods of time. High blood pressure or cholesterol, medical history – heart attack, stroke – all this and more can be documented. Many people don’t even know their own blood type.  Mental health, stress and anxiety are also crucial factors
  6.     Create a link between HR and travel profiles, and ask travellers to update their profile each time they travel. This ensures all personal information is current
  7.     Continually assess whether security policies need to be changed, so review travel and risk programmes regularly, to ensure they are keeping up with an ever-changing world
  8.     Material created during debriefs should be used to create a knowledge bank, which becomes part of future briefings so that travellers benefit from the experience of others

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