What is a travel risk management policy?

The travel risk management policy is about assessing and managing the risks that employees may face when travelling for business.    

It should contain guidance on risk assessments (or travel risk assessments) but also on the duty of care, i.e. the responsibility of the company to take care of its employees.

Who prepares a travel risk management policy?

The travel risk management policy is drafted by the travel manager or security manager, in the absence of these two, it is the responsibility of the administrative or HR department.

What is a travel risk assessment?

The travel risk assessment aims to identify any risks a traveller may face, taking into account geo-political or socio-economic differences in each country where a trip is made. These include:

  • Travel risks:
    • Jet lag, difficulty in mobility after sitting for many hours, air sickness or seasickness
    • Transfer by vehicle, where you stay, what type of accommodation
    • Duration: time of exposure to risks, risks related to climate or seasons
  • Risks to the person: personal health status, vaccinations and contraindications of vaccination prophylaxis, communicable diseases
  • Destination risks: wars, terrorist attacks, bad neighbourhoods or areas
  • Safety of women or LGBTI community members when travelling
  • Geophysical characteristics: climate, seasons, altitude, city or rural area
  • Age, gender, nationality, whether travelling alone or in pairs, level of risk perception

The right study and communication of a risk assessment can give the traveller a clear overview of what they might encounter and thus reassure them. This should be done in advance before the traveller leaves, so that all risk factors that might be encountered can be analysed.  

When should a travel risk assessment be carried out?

First of all, it is necessary to carry out this procedure in advance of the departure of the trip, in order to be able to analyse in detail all possible risks (including the medical situation of the traveller).

In some cases it is not necessary to carry out a travel risk assessment, for example, in the case of:

  • Flights to the same destination: if it’s a destination to which the traveller goes often and therefore knows, it’s not necessary to assess the risk, provided that there have not previously been major changes in the political, geo-physical etc. scenarios.
  • Domestic flights: the location must always be taken into account, but if the traveller is going from the airport to the office, it will not be necessary to assess major risks. It is good to take this into account if, for example, the trip lasts several days.
  • Last-minute travel: This case is somewhere in between, it is always important to assess the location but as it is a last-minute trip it is more likely that a quick risk assessment will be made and not a detailed one due to the short notice.

What are the risks to be taken into account?  

  • Political issues
  • Seismic, tsunami-prone or any other potential environmental disaster areas
  • Security concerns and/or socio-economic instability
  • Risk of communicable diseases
  • Different sanitary conditions
  • Entry requirements (particularly Covid-19 problem to be considered)

What are the risks to be considered for women and the LGBTI community?

When it comes to a woman travelling for work, it is necessary to take into account aspects that usually do not concern men, such as:

  • sexual assault and harassment
  • theft of personal effects

In fact, with regard to this category, the risk assessment must be carried out in greater depth, taking into account:

  • local customs and laws of the country you are travelling to
  • how the role of women is considered in the society of the country you are travelling to
  • physical and health conditions
  • safety

In countries of Islamic origin, certain very normal behaviours or customs that women have in our society are not tolerated and may even be considered illegal.    

It is therefore crucial that a thorough risk assessment is carried out to ensure that nothing is underestimated. Surveys by Sap Concur and Wakefield Research present the following analysis:

  • 77% (more than two out of four women) have experienced harassment or mistreatment during their travels.
  • are asked if they travel with their husband (42%)
  • are ignored by employees (38%)
  • receive inappropriate comments while working (31%).

According to the ILGA World (lesbian, gay, trans and intersex association) there are still at least 70 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are criminalised, mainly in Asia and the Middle East.  

When a traveller belonging to this community is sent on a business trip there are aspects to be taken into account:

  • society’s attitude towards homosexuals
  • the rate of racist crimes
  • protests in favour of legal equality
  • homosexuals are not accepted in some accommodations
  • lack of access to certain services
  • risk of harassment by the authorities

Very often these people have not officially come out, so it might be a good idea to include this type of problem in the policy, specifying the risks, the solutions, who to contact in case of doubts (it would also be appropriate to have a person within the company who is sensitive to these issues and to whom people can turn without feeling in danger and without being afraid) so that one already has almost all the answers in hand without having to declare one’s orientation if one does not feel safe. 

Support for travellers

The policy should mention who in the company is responsible if something happens or who to contact in case of an incident.  

So there must be a section where telephone numbers and emergency contacts are included, how travellers should report incidents and how the company will deal with these incidents.

How to train employees

It is important that travellers are well informed of the risks they may encounter on any trip, but above all that they are aware of them.  

The company should hold training and risk education courses to verify that its employees, besides being ready to go on the trip, are also really prepared to solve any inconvenience.  

As already mentioned, the training of female employees and the LGBTI community should be treated with a different focus. Important aspects to evaluate are:  

Pre-trip planning Communication planning Transport and accommodation security Medical situations Crisis management

What can BizAway do for your travel risk management policy?

On BizAway’s platform you will find a dynamic map, thanks to the partnership with Riskline, which provides information on where they are and which workers are travelling, in case of need. Travellers will also receive real-time alerts if they find themselves in a risky situation.

To sum it up

The travel risk management policy is a document where you can find all possible risk assessments calculated according to the destination of the business trip, with detailed information also on the employer’s duties in the interest of the employees.