The world is changing….
Weather is becoming more extreme, our reliance on technology can (and has been) used against us to cause huge disruption and as the events of recent weeks have shown; destinations we once thought to be ‘low risk’ no longer have safety guaranteed.
As a Business Development Manager who travels around meeting clients and talking through the requirements and long-term goals for their travel programme, it’s clear to me this new landscape we live in is also influencing client’s priorities when sending employees abroad. There’s no denying price will always be a factor when considering travel, but more and more companies are starting to prioritise their Duty of Care Compliance over cost.
‘Duty of Care’ refers to an employers legal and moral obligation to take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. With business travel, this definition covers a wide spectrum of considerations; The most prevalent will always be an employee’s safety when travelling, but there is also Travel Friction to think about when ensuring Duty of Care.
Travel Management Companies are also adapting to these changes, and by using a combination of data, technology and expertise they are delivering solutions which fulfil their client's Duty of Care Compliance.
The best way to ensure a traveller’s safety is to avoid the situation altogether, which is why a Good Travel Management company will offer ‘Travel Alerts’ to keep bookers and travellers fully up to date with events going on in the world. These alerts report on a variety of things, such as strike action, weather warnings and up to date world events. Should a traveller be caught up in any kind of disruption, with no guarantee it will be during office hours, TMC’s offer a 24/7 Emergency Assistance Line to ensure there is always someone at the end of the phone to ensure they get home safe.
Possibly the biggest advance in technology being used to ensure traveller safety is ‘Traveller Tracking’ software. It often surprises me how many people I speak to wouldn’t be able to say where all their travellers are at any given point. Should there be a terrible world event, your company should be able to identify who is travelling and where to, and using Traveller Tracking you can instantly see where your travellers are around the world on an interactive map. If they are in an affected region, the Travel Management Company will be able to act swiftly and proactively to ensure your traveller arrives home to their family as quickly and safely as possible. For those who feel tracking the whereabouts of your travellers may be a little too ‘Big Brother’, the technology can be set to only track the country someone is in rather than their exact location.
As well as the physical safety of travellers to consider, Duty of Care Compliance also requires a company to think about a traveller’s wellbeing and how ‘Travel Friction’ may be affecting them.
Traveller friction is the wear and tear that business travellers accumulate over time. Incorporating employee wellbeing it includes the stress of coordinating calendars at home and work before a trip, the loss of sleep and poor health habits on the road, the stress of returning to work with jet lag and increasing work pressures caused by the time away from the office. If this is something a company is interested in reducing as part of their travel programme, a Travel Management Company can use travel data to identify who is travelling the most, for how long and how often, and then run initiatives such as employee surveys to assess if this is something affecting the company’s travel programme (and productivity).
There is no denying we are living in turbulent times, but business travel is and will continue to be undertaken. With life moving at an ever-increasing pace it’s the responsibility of an organisation and the Travel Management companies to ensure this is being undertaken with as little risk as possible.
What are your thoughts on the importance of Duty of Care? Is this something you are currently on top of or could you be doing more to protect your travellers?