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The Evolution of Corporate Travel Risk Management Plans



Predicting the health and security risks to impact global travellers is a near impossible task. However, as we near the close of 2023, we have learned that risks are becoming more complex. 

The concept of compound crises has historically been reserved for security-related incidents. Over the past 12 months, we have seen a drastic shift. We now see both security and health risks simultaneously impacting organisations and their travellers. For example, recent extreme weather incidents such as Hurricane Otis and the earthquake in Turkey caused extreme disruption for employees travelling to or located in the impacted area.

To help your organisation be better prepared for the risks of travel, our experts look at the recent evolution of travel risk management plans and how they may change in future.  

The Past 12 Months 

As trip frequency drastically dropped during the height of the pandemic, the past year however, has witnessed an opening of boarders and travel routes. 

While the ease of travel improved, business leaders were evaluating how travel, both domestic and international, fits back into their travel risk management plans. The necessity of travelling for business meetings were scrutinised. Flying cross-country for a two-hour meeting become an anomaly. 

Although borders were widely open, we saw a radical emergence of new security and health risks that added complexity for travel risk managers. At the start of the year, the conflict in Ukraine caused a ripple effect on travel for surrounding countries. We saw Ebola, Monkeypox, COVID-19, earthquakes, hurricanes and civil unrest impacting various locations. 

Due to cost pressures and a change in business priorities, the methods of travel have also evolved. Travellers have been looking for more sustainable travel choices that support growing climate change concerns. 

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The Next 12 Months 

As the risks for travellers are expected to change, so do your organisation’s corporate travel risk management plans. The risks and complexities to impact the travel industry is yet to be seen. However, we can anticipate potential enhancements for travel risk management.

Compliance will remain a top priority for travel risk managers. With the launch of ISO 31030, the industry now has related guidance on how to proactively manage risks and how this impacts plans. Internal compliance, from booking trips aligned to policy, to staying at a safe accommodation that has been vetted, will be critical for those responsible for their travellers.  

A new wave of empowerment for travellers that reassures their safety and understanding of travel risks is likely to remain. Travellers will have expectations of more trip flexibility, to preferred modes of transport, airlines, times of travel and the ethos of providers. The work-life balance for employees will remain a key importance. How organisations address these requests, will assure a more effective travel risk policies. 

As an organisation, your Duty of Care to your employees is paramount. We expect this trajectory to grow as the variability of travel risks evolve. Proactively managing these risks should be a pivotal part of your travel risk management plans.

Lessons Learned 

For those organisations and roles that require business travel to maintain operations, it is the responsibility of the travel risk managers to ensure plans are fit-for-purpose in future. From what we have learned, business travel risk management should encompass a layer of flexibility. Plans should be reviewed and tested on a regular basis to ensure they are supporting the risks currently impacting your travelling population. 

In order to understand the effectiveness of your travel risk management plan in future, it is recommended to enable a collaborative approach across departmental teams. From Human Resources, and Risk Management, to Medical, Health and Safety departments, proactive involvement from all parties will better protect your travellers. The importance of sharing travel risk information across these departmental structures is key to ensuring all responsible stakeholders are well-informed. 

Lastly, in order to mitigate any potential health or security risks, travellers must safeguard themselves as best they can against unforeseen events while they are abroad. A pre-travel checklist for example, provides peace-of-mind. To assist you, we have compiled a list of 5 pre-trip travel tips you should consider. 

How we can Support you

International SOS has been at the forefront of supporting travel risk management plans for over 35 years. Whether you are travelling for business, a family trip, or studying abroad, our network of 13,000 health and security professionals can advise you accordingly.