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Business Travel: The Top Risks and How to Protect Your Increasingly Mobile Teams

As travel spending surges, companies seek strategies to safeguard their employees abroad With the global economy flourishing, business travel is on the rise. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts annual spending on business travel to reach USD $1.6 trillion globally by 2020. But also on the rise, in this time of increased geopolitical...




As travel spending surges, companies seek strategies to safeguard their employees abroad

With the global economy flourishing, business travel is on the rise. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts annual spending on business travel to reach USD $1.6 trillion globally by 2020.

But also on the rise, in this time of increased geopolitical uncertainty, are the dangers and difficulties that come along with a plane ticket. In fact, 79 per cent of business travellers are concerned about going to specific destinations, reports the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

What exactly are the top risks for today’s business travellers—and how can their companies protect them?

The answer to the first question may surprise you.

Ask a business traveller about top risks, and chances are they’ll cite terrorism. According to a  GBTA survey, 45 per cent of execs rate it as their greatest danger. Compare this to risks like property theft, which ranked at only 12 per cent in the GBTA survey, followed by kidnapping, natural disasters and more.

Yet, it’s actually the low-ranked health issues that loom as the most likely threat: 71 per cent of senior execs surveyed last year fell ill while travelling. The ailments that beset them ranged from common, though highly uncomfortable, stomach or gastrointestinal problems; to environmental effects from excessive pollution or heat; to the downright grisly, like insect-borne malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

Still, in considering the various risks, where each ranks on a list is almost moot. The point is they’re all real, and with increased business travel comes greater occurrences. Recognizing this, and feeling a heightened duty of care for their employees, companies are setting duty-of-care policies to pre-warn and safeguard business travellers with up-to-the-moment notifications and alerts.

For the strategies to implement these policies, they’re turning to firms like Concur, the world’s leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions and services. Concur has 30 million active users around the world, coming from more than 32,000 clients. In 2016, Concur issued more than 10 million alerts and messages that warned business travellers of potential risks in the locations they were working.

Kevin Craig, managing director of Concur Canada, relates: “Ultimately, these events [illness, terrorism, natural disasters] are rarely something an organization can anticipate or control, but your companies should have protocol in place to ensure they know the safety and status of employees in the event of a crisis.”

“Every organization is obligated to care for their employees while travelling on behalf of the company, but more than that, caring for employees is just the right thing to do.”

Strong duty-of-care policy is the smartest investment

Not only is this the right thing to do—it’s also the pragmatic thing, Craig says, noting that employees are a company’s most valuable asset. “A solid strategy that ensures the safety of employees during a crisis will help companies be compliant in their duty of care responsibilities, allowing them to respond proactively and care for employees in the best way possible,” he explains.

Craig continues, “Businesses benefit from protecting their employees, too. It develops a greater sense of community throughout the workforce, while allowing travelling employees to focus on doing their job instead of worrying about things they can’t always control.”

Concur’s expanding operations reflect companies’ growing concerns about the safety of their travelling employees. In 2015, Concur grew its employee base by over 30 per cent globally, opening or significantly expanding six offices.

The number of Concur users who received alerts and messages through their Concur Travel service grew from 151,000 in January 2016 to 1.3 million in December 2016, representing a 770-per-cent increase.

If there weren’t already enough potential travel perils, another unwelcome one cropped up in January, says Craig. “As an organization entrenched in corporate travel, we’ve seen corporate travel and geopolitical uncertainty growing and colliding. This issue was thrust into the consciousness of many organizations earlier this year, when companies scrambled to determine the safety and state of their workforce travelling abroad following a sudden immigration plan implemented by the Trump administration.”

With that and all the other dangers, “having a duty of care policy takes care of the worst case scenarios and should absolutely be part of a managers plan to protect their employees while they travel on behalf of the company.”

By having a solid strategy in place, managers and business owners can keep their employees—and company—safe.

Four other ways Concur looks after clients

  1. Up to 50 per cent of employee travel is booked outside of corporate travel systems. Concur TripLink provides company insight into all bookings, to help companies capture 100 per cent of employee travel.
  2. Concur TripLink also captures data from flights, hotels and ground transportation, no matter where travel is booked. Access to this data gives companies of all sizes insight into travel expenditures before they happen.
  3. Concur’s cloud-based solutions solve travel and expense challenges, allowing businesses to focus on the things that matter most.
  4. Concur Risk Messaging—with 4.7 million registered users to date––consolidates all employee location and itinerary data in one place, then presents it in an easy-to-use, dynamic map. It gives companies a single view into every employee’s whereabouts and a simple system for delivering urgent tailored or trigger-based messages (text, email or phone call), wherever they are.