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1 Sep, 2012

Travel Managers Survey: Risk Management Remains Top Issue


30 Aug 2012 (AirPlus International) – Risk management remains top of mind amid ongoing worldwide economic, political and ecological uncertainty.

As worldwide economic and political situations remain volatile, the issue of traveler safety and security continues to be an ongoing challenge for travel managers. Add in the increasing frequency and rising strength of natural disasters – ranging from volcanic eruptions, to hurricanes and earthquakes, and corporations are seeing rising pressure to ensure their duty-of-care standards are as up-to-date and comprehensive as possible.

To take the pulse of the current state of risk management efforts, AirPlus surveyed 133 corporate travel buyers this summer. While natural disasters can’t be anticipated – and political unrest can spring up quickly even in unlikely destinations – the most common measures reported by the corporate travel professionals centered around risk mitigation to high-risk areas.

Nearly 61 percent reported the use of pre-trip advisories to high-risk areas – almost a 20-percent jump from a similar survey in 2011, when only 41 percent of travel managers said such advisories were part of their safety and security policy. By the same token, there was a 13 percent increase in the use of pre-trip approvals to high-risk areas compared to last year.

In other areas of policy, there was little change from 2011, with significant numbers of travel managers reporting standard procedures for travel managers in case of travel disruption (46 percent), standard procedures for travelers in case of travel disruption (45 percent) and travel management assessing travel conditions (45 percent).

Less common is travel safety training, only utilized by 25 percent of the travel managers. While a handful noted independently that they also have contracts with a third party security provider, 16 percent reported that there are no measures at all related to safety and security in their policy, and another 2 percent confessed they didn’t know.

Similarly, nearly one-quarter of the respondents said they have no standard procedures in case of an emergency – that emergencies are handled on a case-by-case basis. However, more than one half (51 percent) do have an established company-wide emergency plan.

Of those who do have standard procedures, traveler tracking was by the far the most common, at 68 percent, and one half (50 percent) have a centralized travel risk platform with consolidated global travel information.

When it comes to tracking travelers, the increase in mobile tools has been a double-edged sword. Mobile technology makes it increasingly easy for travelers to do an end-run around corporate booking systems, making traveler tracking more difficult – a problem under the best of circumstances, but critical in the event of an emergency. However, that same mobile technology can facilitate the use of traveler tracking systems.

Whether via mobile SMS text messaging, email or telephone, one-third of respondents have a standard procedure in place in which travelers must proactively confirm their safety. Slightly fewer of the respondents have implementation of a special help desk as part of their standard procedures, although such special help may be added on an ad hoc basis if necessary.

When it comes to who has responsibility for creating policy and overseeing traveler safety and security, the respondents reported a mix. The most common answer was “a combination,” at 42 percent, which can include some or all of the following: travel management, human resources, security, a risk management department or committee, high-level executives, finance, procurement and others.

Beyond that, travel management and security were about equal in terms of who creates travel safety and security policy: 19 percent reported travel management and 20 percent reported security. Only 7 percent said human resources has the primary responsibility.

Download the full survey results here: AirPlus_The Wire_August 2012 (PDF)