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Business travel during a crisis

Despite the corona crisis, some companies are still required to travel for business. Especially then, but also if you are temporarily not traveling, it is good to know what to take into account when traveling on business during a crisis.

Despite all the measures you take, it can happen that travelers during a business trip find themselves in an emergency or crisis. All alarm bells go off. How should you act at that moment? What steps do you take if you are thousands of kilometers away from your colleague who is in trouble? In this blog we talk about business travel during a crisis.

Safe business travel starts with monitoring
Of course you want to prevent travelers from ending up in a crisis situation. What can you do to prevent or minimize risks? Pay attention to the following topics:

  • Establish a travel risk management strategy
    In a previous article we described what a travel risk management strategy can consist of. By drawing up a strategy, you will always have clarity on the procedures to be followed when calamities happen during business travel.

  • Check the current travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Currently, due to the corona measures, all non-essential travel is advised against, but this is going to change again. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has current travel advice for each country. The travel advice indicates whether areas are unsafe, whether travelers should be alert or whether travel to certain areas is even advised against.

  • Check your travel policy
    The travel policy may include matters that affect the safety of business travel. For example, COVID-19 includes booking direct flights, avoiding transfers or public transport and hotels with breakfast facilities. Regularly check for compliance with the policy or instruct your Travel Management Company (TMC) to book only in accordance with policy. 

  • Prepare travelers for disasters
    An often overlooked step in preventing risks during business travel is to train staff. Do travelers know how to act in the event of an emergency? Do they have any idea at all what the risks are? Inform travelers about this and make sure they know how to act in a crisis situation.

Where are my travelers?
Suppose Greece closes its borders immediately because of a huge increase in the number of COVID-19 patients. You know that there are 8 staff members in Athens. How do you know your travelers are okay? Locating travelers is an important first step to go through in the event of an emergency. There are several systems to track travelers during a trip. For example, consider the TravelTracker from International SOS. Based on the information about flights, accommodation and appointments, a good estimate can be made of the approximate location of the traveler. It is of course also possible to follow a traveler literally by foot (for example based on GPS data). However, this affects the privacy of a traveler and is therefore not recommended.

It is part of the duty of care of an organization to roughly know where a business traveler is, but the traveler also has the right to be “lost”. On this thin line between good employment practices and privacy, good agreements must be made between both parties.

Always inform each other
Back to the closing of the Greek borders. To be sure that travelers are safe, the various track & trace tools work with SMS, phone or whatsapp notifications. Travelers who are in the relevant city receive a message about the calamity. They need to confirm that they are safe. Travelers receive automatic notifications until they have reported. Organizations like International SOS help track travelers who do not respond. Consider contacting hospitals or maintaining contact with relief organizations. In such cases, also pay attention to informing the traveler’s family members.

The travelers who have reported should be informed regularly. How is the disaster developing? What consequences does it have for the business trip? By communicating well with each other you can avoid ambiguity and can act more quickly.

On-site support
Depending on the type of emergency, it is wise to seek local support. This may be colleagues from the local office, travel partners of your TMC, medical support from organizations such as International SOS or guidance from the embassy or other government representative. If the calamity is of such magnitude that evacuation from the country is required, the Dutch authorities will take over this process.

For the evaluation and processing of the disaster, it is always advisable to keep a logbook with all the steps that have been taken.

Bas de Smit
Bas de Smit
Result & Conversation Manager
Bas de Smit