When it comes to best practice in business travel, there is a broad range of topics to consider. For this article, we will look at the key areas that impact the well-being of the individual and the reputation of their employer.
Travelling abroad for any purpose has its risks, and in an ever-changing global landscape, it is important to mitigate those risks as far as possible. There are lots of things you can do to protect your staff including the following:
• Travel Policy-unless your staff never venture out of the office, it is imperative that your company has, regularly updates, and adheres to a comprehensive travel policy. If your employees travel abroad on business, the policy should include such things as pre-travel training and emergency processes.
• Business Continuity Management-If something goes wrong for a member of staff when they are abroad, you need to have plans in place to manage the situation, minimise impact, and get back on track. Make sure your BCM includes processes for dealing with the incident itself and the potential effect on your organisation’s reputation if deadlines are missed or orders not completed.
• Research and Education-Make sure you and the traveller have done your research. Check out the area when booking a hotel. How easy is it to get to organised meetings, and are they held in less salubrious areas? Is it generally safe? Are there local customs that need to be adhered to, to avoid arrest?
What arrangements do you have in place to stay in touch with your staff member? Does the hotel you have booked have fast WiFi in the rooms? Does the employee’s mobile tariff allow them to call the UK regularly?
• Communication-Keeping in touch is imperative if you are going to meet your duty of care obligations. Whether that is just by pre-arranged check-ins, the employment of mass communication software or tracking applications will be dependent on the type of business you carry out, the locations your employees travel to and the size of your organisation.
• Emergency Contact-If something goes wrong for your staff abroad, who are they going to tell? If they ring their PA at 5 pm on a Friday to say they have been mugged and have no money or passport, who is going to organise emergency funds, travel documents, and provide necessary support?
• Connectivity Tools-It’s important to equip your staff with the means to stay in touch and to carry out their work whilst abroad, so don’t scrimp on the choice of hotel if it means there is only access to WiFi in the lobby! Make sure they can use their mobile abroad without incurring prohibitive charges. There are no additional charges for mobile use within the EU now, and some good deals to be found for worldwide coverage packages. We’ve already mentioned tracker apps, which will keep tabs on your staff, and come into their own in higher risk locations.
Return on Investment
Foreign business travel is expensive, and few organisations have unlimited funds to support first class travel and five-star hotels for the duration. However, it is important to be careful when implementing budget constraints. Always look at the bigger picture and potential return on investment, not just for the basic travel needs, but also for support mechanisms.
• Flights, hotel and travel expenses-We know you probably don’t have an unlimited budget for this, but if your employee is going straight to a meeting from the airport, it is not conducive to a successful outcome if they have just endured a nine-hour flight in economy class. Similarly, if they are kept awake all night by the sound of sirens because they have been forced to stay in the cheapest motel in a run-down area of the city, they are not going to get the best results for your company. Don’t make them catch the bus in a place that has a high rate of street crime, or have to venture out at night to eat because the hotel is too expensive.
• Get them covered-corporate travel insurance is a must, but make sure it provides adequate cover. Insurance traditionally covers monetary losses, but there may be an opportunity to purchase add-ons which provide extra protection. Medical and Security Assistance companies offer services that are often an essential purchase for travel to some locations, shop around though and make sure they have the resources to meet their obligations if there is a crisis.
• Support-Have you considered what you would do to support a member of staff if they were a victim of crime, hospitalised or something equally traumatic? It is rarely cost effective to send a member of staff out to support a colleague, and government embassies are often limited in the resources available for consular assistance. So, who else can you turn to? Consularcare is the first and only company to provide global consular assistance to bridge the gap in services between the public and private sector.
This article only scratches the surface of safe business travel, but we hope we have given you some things to think about. If you feel you would benefit from the expertise of our former diplomats, we offer a consultancy service and can also support you with training your staff. If you would like to know more about our ConsularAssist solution and how it can help your staff abroad, call us on 02031981890.