Risk Management vs. Cost Savings: Where Should My Company Be?

MW-0815By Mark Williams, Partner

One of the primary, if not paramount, responsibilities of the travel manager is to mitigate traveler risk. All of us would agree to spend whatever it takes to protect a traveler in any specific situation. Specific situations do not arise often, however, and when they do they usually cannot be anticipated and are unique in their demands and requirements for resolution. The travel manager is thus challenged to implement a risk management program – technology, communications, procedures – that covers a broad range of potential risks.

The hard truth, however, is we all have budgets and typically do not have the resources to implement a risk management program addressing every possible situation. So, what is a travel manager to do? How are those precious dollars to be used to get the maximum benefit? Here are three ideas:

  1. Make sure your company’s travel policy is clear and strong. Travelers need to make all travel reservations through services where they can be tracked via available technology. Travelers going into higher risk locations need to what to do should a risky situation arise, and when to do it. Educating your travelers on these possible situations and the appropriate responses can help mitigate the danger in incidents such as the Mumbai terror attack, where many travelers put themselves at risk by calling the front desk and providing their location or room number.
  2. Conduct an analysis of your risk management needs. How many travelers does your organization have? How many of these travel internationally? Of those international travelers how many travel to high-risk countries or regions? The answers to these questions can lead you to a determination of the services to best meet your company’s needs.
  3. Investigate the products and services your travel management company offers. These might include travel tracking technology, mobile technology, and preferred relationships with risk management service companies. If your travel management company does not have all the tools to meet your requirements, contact the organizations that provide commercially available risk management services. These services can include current information on risk areas, traveler tracking, evacuation services, communication, and training.

Once you’ve performed your analysis and gathered all the necessary information, you can balance the services your company classifies as “must haves” and “like to haves” with the corresponding cost. Draw the line on included services where there is a high level of comfort within your senior management. Engage the selected suppliers. Make sure there is a constant data flow to you, your security department, and other stakeholders.

With the high volume and distance of travel required in today’s business world, the risks to travelers correspondingly increase. Having the appropriate risk management program in place for your company will help mitigate that risk and help you as a travel manager successfully complete your most important task.

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