Travel managers struggle to cope with global security threats

More than a third of travel managers reported an increasing number of inquiries related to traveller safety
More than a third of travel managers reported an increasing number of inquiries related to traveller safety

With the world facing a growing number of security threats, corporate travel buyers are struggling to deal with rising traveller concerns, a new report has revealed.

According to research from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), more than a third of travel managers (37%) have reported an increasing number of inquiries related to traveller safety.

But it appears that a significant number of organisations do not have the systems required to quickly address these concerns. More than a quarter (27%) of travel managers claim not to have had a detailed emergency plan in place.

The report also suggests that the absence of these plans may be connected to the fact that many organisations do not hold planning meetings. Thirty nine percent of travel managers said that such meetings do not take place, or only occur irregularly. Just 14% of organisations convene key stakeholders for planning meetings once or more per month.

“Travel managers cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to worst-case scenario planning,” said Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE. “The status quo for many organisations is to react to a crisis-but this leaves travellers in danger and ultimately does not lead to replicable procedures for the future. Proactive planning is an absolute necessity in an evolving global threat environment.”

Businesses to seem to be adapting to a more high-risk world, however; 83% have started using traveller locating technology and 79% now provide safety communication to travellers. Additional tools used by travel managers include safety training, emergency check-in technology, safety and security services from their travel management company, and emergency action plans.

“Travel is changing at an accelerated rate, but corporate policymaking moves much slower,” said Evan Konwiser, vice president of digital traveller with American Express GBT. “Organisations of all sizes must identify ways that travel policies can be nimbler and adapt to new challenges. Having the right partners and tools in place can be a huge advantage when new disruptions emerge.”

Three areas were identified where a significant proportion of travel managers would like to do more: 45% want more support from their TMC, 40% would like to provide more safety training, and 38% want to implement emergency check-in technology. Respondents added however, that the cost of increased support from TMCs and implementing emergency check-in systems was holding them back, as was their own lack of knowledge about available products and services.

“Travel managers should remain in close dialogue with TMCs to mitigate these challenges,” the report asserted.

One area where travel managers encounter fewer barriers is safety communication. Here, 60% believe they deliver adequate communication to travellers, and a further 27% said they are working to improve in this area.

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