Putting the Pieces Together: Duty of Care

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The Corporate Travel Manager should be aware of and understand the risks of traveling overseas and that proper Duty of Care involves the management of these risks.  The global awareness that our job demands makes travel risk impossible to ignore.  We are one of the first lines of defense when it comes to educating our globally-mobile employees.  Our knowledge of risk and of the possibility for risk mitigation through corporate directives, assistance providers and insurance carriers should be applied to our employees travel plans in a standardized and employee acknowledged system.  In short, Duty of Care can only be accomplished through the procedures and protocol of a well-structured Travel Risk Management (TRM) Program.

It was at iRobot when I fully recognized the need for a TRM Program to help safeguard the health and safety of our travelers and expatriates.  I began to educate myself about travel risk management, reading all the white papers and case studies available. I also met with our travelers to discuss their concerns and understand their risk profiles.

Armed with this knowledge, I presented a program proposal to our senior leadership team.  They shared my concerns and my enthusiasm.  Senior management support is necessary for any new program to come to fruition.  I began to write and develop a TRM Policy consisting of travel safety directives and protocols.  To complete the program, I established our internal TRM team and researched and contracted with a medical and security assistance provider and insurance carriers.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at the annual Global Business Travel Association Conference in Boston. More than 7,000 travel industry leaders gathered to discuss the newest travel related trends and products.  During the presentation, which focused on the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), best practices were stressed on Duty of Care.

Pre-trip education and preparation is an extremely important part of Duty of Care and travel risk management.  These directives should be destination specific and modified according to the destination’s risk level at the time of departure.  As an example, out-bound travelers would be equipped with health and safety risk information as well as other destination/risk level specific safety tips such as change your daily routine, show no signs of wealth, use vetted transportation services.

In addition, there are other risk mitigation tactics to help ensure the safety of travelers. For instance, SMS messaging often works in a disaster when cell calls don’t.  An “I’m OK” policy can make sure you know which of your travelers are safe and which need help following an event.

As we look to the future, corporate travel with its associated travel risks will increase.  Employees will need to travel more and more as corporations seek to expand their global footprint.  A modern corporation requires a dedicated program to manage and mitigate these risks.  Safeguarding our travelers is our ultimate duty as traveler managers. I am certain that after some reflection you will realize, as I did, that a program to manage travel risk is essential and fundamental.

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