09 February 2018 ,  —



More than half of European organisations were impacted by travel disruption or terrorism in the past year, according to the new 2018 Business Impact of Travel Risk Survey. Conducted by International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company, the survey gathers insights from European executives in a range of industries. Respondents were asked how health and travel security risks have affected their business continuity, and where their priorities lie when mitigating these risks in the future. 
Business Impact for Travel Risk Main image
The top incidents and events that impacted organisations and their mobile workers in 2017 were:

64% Travel disruption  (natural disasters, closure of transport hubs, strikes)
53% Terrorism 
49% Political or social unrest 
34% Travel practicalities (new visa policies, embargoes, etc.)
28% Tropical diseases (Zika, Ebola, plague, etc.)
25% Crime (theft, kidnapping, harassment, hate crime, etc.)

Xavier Carn, VP Security at International SOS and Control Risks, remarks that “most of these incidents can be anticipated and mitigated through timely information-sharing and training to anticipate those risks and adjust personal behaviours accordingly”. He further stresses that “since you can never be sure when or where an incident will occur and at what intensity, organisations need to have plans in place that ensure responsiveness in any scenario. A robust risk management programme requires the optimisation of resources, where existing travel risk management procedures and tools are leveraged through regular training, simulation and feedback systems after each incident. Managed well, it can help support business continuity and sustainability through a protected workforce.”

According to Carn, recent events such as natural disasters and terrorism “demonstrate a constant need to be ahead of the curve of the incident through continuous access to a verified and specialised source of information.” As such, companies “need to be able to locate and account for all staff whether they are local employees, business travellers or international assignees.”  But for many organisations, effective response is still undermined by a number of challenges, and 24% of business executives are still not confident or only moderately confident that their organisation is prepared to respond if an incident were to occur tomorrow.

Top challenges include:  
56% Accessing information about the situation (up 13pp ) 
46% Communicating with mobile workers 
36% Locating and accounting for mobile workers quickly (up 6pp2)
32% Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities
27% Communicating with local employees

James Wood, Security Director at International SOS and Control Risks, says that “being able to respond to security events will continue to be a challenge for organisations. With international tensions, such as those on the Korean peninsula changing rapidly, upcoming major events and a continuing threat of natural hazards, being prepared to address these challenges must remain a focus.”

To improve responsiveness, it is crucial to have the right systems in place that allow for efficient and effective crisis management. Carn asserts that “through the use of tracking tools, geo-location, and apps combined with assistance capabilities on the ground, technology is an enabler that can help save lives in times of crisis.” Yet only 40% of European organisations have implemented a traveller tracking mechanism that enables quick access to global travel exposure, signalling that there is still room for improvement when it comes to leveraging technology in risk management processes. 

This gap in risk response readiness is underscored by the fact that only half of the participating organisations have developed and updated their Travel Risk Policy this past year, with 45% indicating that this should be reviewed in order to improve preparedness.  Improving communication and education remains a top priority (72%) and optimising the use of existing resources is also high on the agenda (53%), having increased by 13% since last year. Moreover, implementing crisis simulation exercises (45%) and providing regular training to mobile workers (43%) remain important mitigation measures that organisations intend to implement moving forward. 

To set the right priorities for travel risk mitigation, Wood advises that “a great focus is required on the communication and education of travel risks within organisations. Being able to respond to events in 2018 also requires organisations to focus on elements such as accessing information in the immediate aftermath; locating, accounting for, and communicating with their employees; and clarifying roles and responsibilities.”

Wellness management is also a key element of business continuity, and the majority (74%) of organisations understand the correlation between worker wellbeing, absenteeism, and productivity. Yet a gap remains, as only 41% of organisations have conducted a comprehensive review of what they are doing for the health of their mobile workforce. 

Dr. Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Medical Director at International SOS, says “it is important to recognise health as a cornerstone of good business.” He advises organisations to incorporate health metrics into annual company reporting, as “employee health indicators are becoming core to existing corporate social responsibility, sustainability and integrated reporting looked at by all shareholders and potential investors.”  For more tips on corporate wellness, click here

To help organisations prepare for the year ahead, International SOS is hosting its flagship Travel Risk Outlook events throughout February and March. This series of events aims to educate business executives about the unpredictable and predictable medical and security risks of 2018, support their risk mitigation programmes and reinforce their organisations’ business continuity. To register to the live Travel Risk Outlook 2018 webinar on March 8th, click here


Notes to Editors

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help you meet compliance reporting needs for good governance. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.


Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group is trusted by 12,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune Global 500, multi-national corporate clients and mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 10,000 multi-cultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 85 countries, 24/7, 365 days.   

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips:



1The 2018 Business Impact of Travel Risk Survey was conducted by International SOS among 223 people in Europe, mainly executives in Security, Travel, Health and Safety, Risk, HR, Operations, and General Management. Research was conducted online in the period of 24 November 2017 to 18 December  2017.
2Compared to the results of the 2017 Business Impact of Travel Risk Survey.