Information is the best way to protect employees on the road, says BCD Travel Senior Vice President Kathy Bedell. In her role at BCD and as a member of the Global Business Travel Association’s Risk Committee, Bedell encourages companies to take a proactive approach to travel risk management. She says doing so has never been more important—or straightforward—than it is right now.
“Duty of care for business travelers has gotten more complex because once ‘safe’ destinations no longer feel that way. At the same time, technology tools have simplified and streamlined traveler communications, creating new ways for companies to easily provide relevant, timely information that can keep travelers safe,” Bedell said. She breaks the information cycle into three parts.
Robust booking data tells companies which employees are headed where, enabling targeted messages to prepare travelers for potentially risky situations. “Messages delivered via platforms like BCD’s TripSource® give travelers the information they need to improve their safety. Destination-specific messages can explain what to pack, what to leave home, what local safety and health measures apply, reputable hospitals—anything that might increase traveler safety and comfort,” Bedell said.
In addition, she said, messages that assist travelers are great for engaging them—helping them understand the value of the travel program and the company’s interest in their welfare. “They can see that the company is there for them.”
When an incident reaches crisis level, it’s time to inform travelers who could be affected about the risks, Bedell advised. BCD has put some parameters around its TripSource risk alerts, so when an incident is serious enough to have potential impact on many travelers, BCD clients’ travelers in the area automatically get an alert advising them of the situation.
When a country is e.g. closing its borders because of COVID-19, travelers in that country or with a booked trip to that country get automatic updates on the situation. But travelers elsewhere in the world don’t receive these crisis-level messages—a demonstration of the pinpoint power of TripSource risk alerts.
In the minutes and hours immediately after an incident, real-time reports of traveler locations—enabled by data intelligence platforms like BCD’s DecisionSource®—are critical, Bedell said. But even after a crisis has passed, the data that emerged from it is valuable.
“Reports about how quickly a company located and connected with travelers; how well travelers followed internal duty of loyalty policies for checking in; and whether there was a steady flow of information and communication between travel, security, human resources and other departments enable a company to fine-tune duty of care and travel risk management policies and procedures,” Bedell said. “It’s important to assess the strength of your risk management program and treat every crisis as a learning opportunity. That’s the best way to ensure your company will be better prepared for the next one.”