The new travel reality is as complex as ever. Recent security incidents, travel disruptions, and inflated costs emphasizes the need for organisations to evaluate their Travel Risk Management plans. An integral part of these plans is evaluating accommodation-based risks that may impact your travellers. Especially as hotel prices are expected to rise by a further 8.3% in 20231, the importance of selecting safe accommodations is as pertinent as ever before.
Travel managers, HR managers, security and risk professionals all have Duty of Care responsibilities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their travellers and assignees, but in a complex risk environment, do you have the appropriate measures in place to ensure your people are safe?
Our experts outline the important measures organisations should consider to address accommodation-specific risks as part of their Travel Risk Management plans.
The New Era of Hotel Assessments
As outlined in ISO 31030, Travel Risk Management — Guidance for Organizations, accommodation selection plays an integral part of a risk mitigation process. Whether for a hotel, private-lodging, B&B or serviced apartment, the vetting and selection process should be cohesive and regularly reviewed. As many facilities closed during the pandemic, the need to carry out updated assessments of your accredited accommodations is key.
The discrepancies between the accommodation evaluation is widely determined based on the risk level of the location, threat environment, security measures and procedures. For example, in high-risk locations it is recommended to carry out physical assessments of the hotel and its immediate vicinity. The environment in which the hotel operates could be exposed to higher security threats for a traveller. Popular hotel chains (and hotels located in the vicinity of high-profile buildings such as embassies, military compound, police headquarters etc.) can sometimes be a target point for crime or terror attacks so staying at a more local accommodation with sufficient security measures may be recommended. There could also be escalating health threats in the area which should be considered before sending an employee. The risk landscape should be assessed regularly in conjunction with an expert, but for high-risk locations will need to access onsite yearly as risk can be changed at short notice.
The Value of Accurate Information
Due to the volatility of travel, flight cancellations and security incidents, access to accurate accommodation-specific information, at your fingertips is invaluable. To ensure your travellers and assignees remain safe and trips carried out without disruption, relying on up-to-date, location-specific information should be integrated into your Travel Risk Management plans. Not only does access to this information help keep your people safe but it can also avoid costly evacuations, or trip cancellations.
For example, if your travellers have a non-refundable ticket and hotel booking reserved for an upcoming trip but social unrest, terrorist attacks or natural disaster in the area are creating hesitancy in being able to travel or not. Before deciding to cancel the trip, that traveller called into an assistance provider to validate the severity of the situation over the coming days and they were able to verify that the risk was low and that the accommodation selected was in a secure location with identified safe routes in case of emergency. A secure hotel will have at least one alternative route to access a port of departure in case an evacuation is needed. The reduction in cost and disruption plays an integral part in your organisational resilience.
Accommodating Individual Traveller Profiles
Deeming a hotel as “safe” is largely associated by the risk rating of the location, from the threat environment, security measures and procedures, to the immediate vicinity which it is located. However, there is another layer of potential risks which relate to the individual traveller.
Understanding the cultural, political and environmental nature of the location may impact a recommendation of the hotel or accommodation being safe for your people to visit. From sexual orientation (LGBTQ+ friendly), gender, or religion and health vulnerabilities, each profile should be evaluated. Hotels and accommodations should be evaluated for their ability to accommodate travellers with special needs from wheelchair access to allowing service animals. Even the level of travel experience or general travel anxiety should be considered as part of your accommodation recommendations.
Instilling Traveller Confidence
As part of your Travel Risk Management plans, educating and proactively communicating with your travellers on accommodation-specific risks is pivotal in protecting their safety, health and security. While abroad, they should be informed of the profile specific risks they may encounter in the city, hotel and sites they may visit. From protecting data privacy, using the safe to secure their personal goods, to staying in a room near the emergency exit or rooms start from the floor above reception or higher.
Providing access to speak with an expert to provide accommodation specific advice ahead of trip will allow them to ask the specific questions based on their profile and level of travel experience.
Should a health or security incident take place while away, understanding who they can contact to provide support is key, especially in higher-risk locations. In varying risk environments, it is important to also consider different communication methods should power lines or telephone networks be compromised.
Finally, as your Travel Risk Management plans evolve, making your travellers aware with the opportunity to ask questions helps to extend confidence in knowing their safety is of the upmost importance.
With 84% percent of organisations reporting that their employee’s appetite to travel is linked to the level of support their company provides to travellers, considering your approach to selecting safe accommodations is critical. With the number of business trips expected to grow in 2023, your travellers and assignees require the confidence to know they can complete a trip safely.
Our long-standing expertise in managing hotel incidents (e.g. Mumbai, Bamako, Ouagadougou, Dhaka), and operational capability in varying risk environments, best positions us to support you with your safe accommodation services.
From carrying out physical security assessments for specific hotels to building a customised network of vetted hotels for the locations in which you operate, we can provide the personalised level of support for your organisation. To learn how we can help, get in touch with our experts.