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Travel Alert: What You Need to Know About Travel Safety and Security Risk Management

Introduction

If you want to learn about managing the safety and security of your corporate travelers then you will need to read this report.

Specifically we’ll discuss preparation, analysis, management, monitoring and response as it relates to an active and successful travel risk management program.

After reading this article, you should know how to prevent or predict approximately 90% to travel risks and act immediately to improve your own program.

Implementing a successful travel risk management strategy can be one of the easiest corporate actions but the most difficult to get moving.

Too much time is wasted focusing on the wrong areas for assessment and implementation, that results in minor coverage for the major areas of concern.

Here we will simplify the process for immediate action or comparison.

Preparation

Preparation is the primary and key step for all programs, whether mature or developing. Any-and-all information that is collected, especially data, should be consolidated to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Overcoming a “silo” mentally within the organization is also paramount to consolidating.

Intent, progress and resolutions must be communicated to all stakeholders in the most effective medium possible.

Managers should not limit themselves to the more traditional mediums but also include popular social media offerings.

Key messages or content must be trackable or at least acknowledged to ensure potentially life saving information isn’t lost in the vast corporate email inbox or mislabeled as spam.

Each major milestone and change needs to be documented, rated and followed channeled into the communication plan.

Time spent on effective preparation is rarely wasted and will pay dividends, throughout the course of the program’s lifecycle.

Example-Preparation

A relatively small consulting firm, who understood that they had a significant investment in their consulting staff, was able to develop and implement an effective, world class travel risk management strategy in a matter of weeks.

Through a well-structured phase of preparation and mapping they were able to resolve an issue that had consistently been pushed back because they had always assumed the task was insurmountable.

Analysis

Analysis of all key components associated with corporate travel must be conducted.

Travelers

The first and most pivotal is the travelers themselves.

A profile and rating of each traveler needs to be developed.

Questions around health, experience, knowledge, function and even preparation are basic requirements for each travelers threat profile.

With this information managers will be better positioned to make accurate assessments on the overall risk of any journey.

Location

The location visited is the second element.

The threats vary greatly from location to location and generalized ratings are useless if based on such known vulnerabilities.

Trips to a key, developed city warrant different planning considerations than that of a remote location in a developing economic country.

Different cities within the same country may have vastly differing threat concerns too.

Activity

Next is the activity to be undertaken by the traveler.

A conference, factory tour, expedition or client meeting all have differing threats and planning considerations and are not adequately address by a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Support

Additionally, the level of support afforded the traveler is considered.

This is not only those organic support options such as internal support and providers but that of emergency services, infrastructure and so on.

The time it takes for an ambulance to respond can turn a “routine” incident into a potentially fatal encounter.

The assessment and access to support should be inclusive of routine and emergency situations.

Threats

Lastly, all the known or prevailing threats need to be assessed.

You can never know everything but an overall list and impact/potential outcomes assessment needs to be conducted to complete the process if consistent and measurable results are to be expected.

Many threat factors may be seasonal or vary over the course of the month or traveler’s journey.

Example-Analysis

Due to changing economic challenges, a mid-sized company was pressured to seek new business in developing countries and emerging markets.

Until this point they had always been reluctant to venture into such markets due largely to their perception of risk.

Following structured and less superficial analysis they were able to fully appreciate the actual threats and separate the more emotive elements.

Following consultation with managers and travelers, they successfully expanded their market and sought new business with less competition as their competitors continue to lack the understanding and preparation to successfully pursue potentially lucrative opportunities.

Management

The greatest threat to preparation and analysis is an unsupervised or unmanaged program once the traveler commences travel.

Ownership must be displayed and active management of travelers from a door of departure until a door of return is required.

This must be conducted with frequency of effort and communications to ensure the traveler feels supported and management is across the potential for change and intervention.

This phase is a marathon and not a sprint.

The management of successful programs requires consistency in conjunction with frequency.

Relatively standardized approaches need to be applied to like situations/circumstances for the purpose of efficiency, productivity, safety and cost control.

Demonstrable support is required both within the management group but to all identified stakeholders such as travel management, security, the traveler, families, etc.

Example-Management

A company with tens of thousands of traveling personnel successfully manages the risks and demands of travel with only a handful of people.

Their system and support mechanism is adaptive enough to support individual requirements but automated enough to ensure efficiency by keeping headcount at optimal and minimal levels while leveraging technology.

Their overall strategy is not managed by one department but all departments and stakeholders work in collective unison at each and every stage from departure up to return of the traveler to the office or their place of residence.

Monitoring

Monitoring represents the Achilles’ heel for the majority of travel risk management programs.

Ongoing monitoring of events and activities is required, whether this is carried out by the traveler or higher support function such as HR or security.

Tactical events (those that occur within proximity of the traveler/travelers route) should be scrutinized on a regular basis.

These events are the ones most likely to cause disruption or harm and should constitute the priority of effort.

Wider events or more strategic developments also need to be monitored for change that will impact the traveler or group of travelers.

Tactical events include demonstrations, storms, violence and the like while strategic events include visa changes, political unrest, health crisis and so on.

The actual journey taken by the traveler should be regularly reviewed or automated to report and respond disruption events and threats.

Finally, the individual needs to be monitored outside of the usual performance and reporting requirement to ensure their health and well-being is preserved or unchanged.

Example-Monitoring

Numerous companies have averted crisis and maintained productivity by monitoring developing events.

Changes in weather, strikes, airline delays and even public holidays can occur at short notice and outside of standard policy doctrine.

By keeping “a finger on the pulse” with active monitoring these companies maximize their travel spending and ensure their travelers are highly productive and efficient.

Less vigilant companies who leave the process to static policy and dated knowledge are forced to spend more or suffer unnecessary delays.

Response

Bad things happen to good people all the time.

No plan is complete without a response capacity in support of the affected traveler.

The plan and steps must be painstakingly simple and clear so as to be remembered under the worst of situations.

The plan must be adaptive and simple in implementation so that it can build in complexity and content after the initial activation or call for assistance.

The plan may be infrequently called upon but it should have consistency in application and capability.

All locations, activity, individuals and threats need to be considered and inclusive of the response plan.

Above all, the plan needs to be timely in its application.

A distressed, affected traveler or manager must get the support and collaboration required in the shortest possible time frame.

While the planning and preparation may be measured in days, weeks or months the response should be valued in minutes and hours dependent on the need.

Most companies acknowledge this is not their core competency and therefore part or all of this function is outsourced for maximum return and results.

Example-Response

A “seasoned traveler” from an acclaimed academic institution became unwell while traveling for work purposes.

Despite years of experience and seniority at the institution they had in fact very little knowledge or experience when it came to emergencies or supporting medical services in the location they were when they became ill.

As a result of poor choices, lack of knowledge, no support, limited integration coupled by a litany of local challenges the individual nearly died.

It was only through the swift and successful actions of a concerned spouse, engaging a far more organized process with predictable results, did the individual receive the care and support required to save their life and begin the long recovery process.

Conversely, one company experienced several similar incidents in a single month, however not once were their travelers placed at such grave risk, suffered uncontrolled costs or outright loss of productivity for long periods.

This was all due to a successful and scalable response capacity if and when required.

The Main Travel Safety and Security Threats-Locations and Events

The majority of incidents negatively affecting travelers occur at airports, on the road, accommodation, office/business location, social/leisure locations or result of dynamic change.

Airports

Airports must be included in any action plans or support strategies as it is first/last leg of all journeys and likely to present delays and disruptions ranging from flight delays to targeting by petty criminals.

Accommodation

Accommodation of all kind must be evaluation and included in timely response and advice communications.

Road Moves

Road moves remain the most prevalent and greatest for deadly consequences. Motor vehicle accident rates vary wildly from country to country.

Location

Locations of business activity within the journey plan represent the smallest of impact locations but demand inclusion.

Social and Leisure Activities

Often forgotten with tragic results are social or leisure locations.

This element is likely to be largely unscripted but has a high rate of incidents and events that negatively impact upon the traveler.

Change

The one constant with travel is change.

Elections, violent crimes, attacks an other major news events create change and potential for concern, whether affected directly or not.

Planners and managers need to include this dynamic in the constant monitoring, response and communication plans.

Close

Most agree that travel is inherently risky or laced with threats but far less actually do something about travel risk management as they don’t know where to start or see the task too daunting.

As you can see, it is relatively straightforward to capture 90% of the problem and manage the risk in a few simple steps.

With a methodical and consistent process inclusive of preparation, analysis, management, monitoring and response you too can have a world-class travel risk management program.

Most events and concerns occur in and around airports, accommodation, road moves, office/business locations, change and social leisure locations.

Now you know the key focus areas you have the information and plan to start now.

Even if you already have a plan and strategy, you can benchmark your own approach with this information gathered from years of empirical data, thousands of incidents and insight from thousands of companies ranging from small startup to some of the largest multinationals around the globe.

Resort in Pench National Park

The Gondwana or the “Land of Gonds” in central India which includes the Pench Tiger reserve, strectches across Madhya Pradesh and Maharatsra. The common languages here is the Gondi, a spoken language. They depend on forest produce for sustenance and livelihood. The history of Pench is rich and enthralling. The history of Pench discloses fascinating and delightful facets of culture and life cycle of the societies of Pench.

The Pench tiger reserve is spread over two states, the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh and Nagpur district of Maharashtra. Pench M.P.covers around 757 squares Kms and Maharashtra covering an additional covering 741.22 sq kms has also been declared Pench tiger reserve. Together these two are home to breeding tigress which in turn plays an important role in revitalising the meta-population of tiger reserves.

Interestingly, according to local lore a boy named Mowgli was brought up by a heard of wolves and was found in the Sant Bawadi village. A very famous “The Jungle Book” is based on the Mowgli and its land Pench national Park described by Rudyard Kipling’s. Rudyard Kiplings describes Mowgli and its land “Pench national Park” in his very famous “The Jungle Book” which is a collection of stories by him using animals in a manner to give moral lessons. Also mentioning about the Valley of Ben Ganga River near Kanivadi village where Sher khan of the children’s favourite fanciful tale met his end.

During your visit to Pench and opting for a thrilling Pench jungle safari you will notice the traces of the ancient happenings occurred.

The Living forest: Flaura & Fauna- The remarkable landscape of Pench is the hills, the dense forest and open meadows. Pench forest is largely made up of dry deciduous forest where large tracts of Teak, bamboo, Saaja (crocodile tree), Ghost tree, Mahua, and many more fruit trees. The region has dense red soil rich in lime, magnesia, iron in which dry crops and cotton flourish.

The Iconic the king “Tiger”- The tallest living species in the cat family. The leopard is an intelligent elusive carnivore that manages to sustain itself even in forest dominated by tigers. The other carnivores are dhole (wild dog), jungle cat, small Indian civet, Wolves, Striped hyena, Sloth bear, Jackal, and common palm civet make up the rest of the carnivore fauna of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The pray of these carnivores are Deer, Sambhar, Blue bull, Bison etc are most commonly sighted. Though the flying squirrel, porcupine and Indian pangolin are also resident of the park, spotting any of these is rare.

Bird Watching in Pench: The Pench national park is known as the bird watchers paradise. It has 325 species of birds which includes resident and migratory both. Pench is attaining recognition as one if the India’s premium birding destinations. Bird life is so rich in Pench national park because water birds are attracted to the reservoir situated in the park. Winter migrants includes snipes, sand pipers and wagtails. The cormorants, storks, egrets, fishing eagles and kingfishers have colonised the reserve. The diversity of habitats at Pench is combined with population of predator and prey species make it ideal for vultures. Lots of tourist choose for Pench jungle safaris only to sight vulture which is rare and available in few wild life sanctuaries only.

The Digital Future of the Hotel Industry Starts at Home

During my many years of travel in the service industry and having stayed in hundreds of hotels worldwide, it’s clear that the past five years have brought about enormous change in the hotel industry.

Innovation with architecture, interior design and guest comfort is at an all-time high. Widespread revitalisation has been incredibly successful in meeting guest expectations. Yet, in an increasingly demanding world, there still also remains a huge opportunity to truly create a home from home for the traveler.

Improvement On the Old?… How Much Has Actually Changed in The Hotel Industry?

In so many areas, the revitalisation of hotels continues to occur through the use of innovative products. Yet, if you look closely, you begin to realise that most ideas are limited to enhancing old, existing structures, whilst missing vital customer life cycles.

In a world where customer loyalty is hard-fought and guest expectations are continuing to rise, what’s truly needed is a shift to more dynamic business models: Low risk, digital strategies that are truly in sync with customer’s loves and expectations.

So, What’s Missing from the Guest Experience?

Be it a family, business clients or honeymooning couples, people are now approaching their travel with exceedingly high expectations. In today’s environment, we have access to so much. We have a plethora of choice in our everyday lives and we expect the same standard of availability, ease and access when we enter a hotel.

Modern Expectations

Take my example: At home, my WIFI works seamlessly, without the need for daily passcodes. I can fill my fridge with my favourite food, available for me whenever I want it. I can order it or purchase it on a whim to make my Friday night extra special. I control the temperature of my house, so that when I come home, it’s comfortable. I book massages or entertainment online to consume immediately.

These are all ‘givens’ for me. And I expect them – and more – from my hotel.

I’d love to be able to choose my preferred pillow prior to my arrival. I want to be able to book a reservation at a restaurant or spa with ease and without constant phone calls, or easily choose a city tour without visiting reception. If I have a problem during my stay, I want it fixed fast – not needing to chase a maid or deal with a busy receptionist.

If you, as a hotel, can provide a solution for me to easily manage my needs – through the entire lifecycle of my experience – from booking, staying, right through to months after my stay, then you will earn both my loyalty and my revenue.

Touch and Influence Through Mobile

But how could a hotel achieve this? By adapting pragmatic digital strategies within the guest life cycle. Mobile as our main form of communication and source of information, is one ideal solution.

Located directly on the home screen of the guest’s own device, you have the opportunity to live, literally, in the palm of their hand and be just a touch away from a direct, on- going connection. Your hotel’s physical attributes offer them comfort, whilst your digital presence offers them a 24/7 relationship with you.

A Thriving, Connected Business

The potential for true connection with customers – before, during and after their physical stay – is vast; the opportunities an innovation in this area, endless. Yet, the fact remains that hotels aren’t yet harnessing a personalized digital customer strategy.

Travel to Costa Rica: Hotel Reviews

The Best Western, Costa Rica
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
It was only 15 minutes away from the airport and right in the middle of the city. I felt as though it was a nice transition from being in the U.S. to being in a different country since it is a big, international hotel chain. Everyone we spoke with spoke perfect English but they were also locals so they were open to sharing any advice you might need. The rooms were pretty average and clean with a great view of the courtyard and pool area at the center of the hotel. We swam in the pool during the day (very clean and well kept) and the hot tub was located to the side, a little more private, with an ‘infinity pool’ kind of feel. Overall, it was a simple hotel that offered just enough for us.

Lomas del Volcan, San Carlos
Rating: 4/5 Stars
To this day, it has been one of the most unique and memorable places I have ever stayed. It might seem sketchy when you have to go off the main road and drive up this dirt trail on an incline for a bit, but then you reach a normal road and it takes you right to the main hotel site to check in. The staff was attentive and welcoming. It was a simple dining center, both indoor and outdoor with a terrific buffet. From there, we had to keep going up the incline and walked with our luggage to our own huts. (unfortunate downside: no one carting you around the resort) Towels shaped into flamingos were propped up on each bed accompanied by rose pedals. The bathroom was very large and open which was nice when sharing with others. We had a little front porch and a back porch opening up to all the beautiful surrounding nature. When we would head out in the mornings there would be monkeys swinging around the trees, right outside our hut!! It is also very close to all the near by activities, right off the Arenal Volcano!

Condovac la Costa, Playa Hermosa
Rating: 4/5 Stars
We stayed at this large resort right off the sandy beaches. There is constant uphill and downhill traveling so you’re in for a good work out but luckily there were golf carts roaming around to help guests get around. The welcome desk was very pleasant, with tons of people around to assist you. The rooms were okay, not completely 4 star worthy, but it was everything else that made me give it this rating. They had a tennis court, game room, pool area, karaoke, infinity pool, zumba lessons, salsa lessons, a great restaurant, gift shop and most importantly: their private beach entrance which only lead you to do more! We barely even stayed in the hotel room the amenities kept us so busy. We had no problems with anything here! Highly recommend.