Managing Director, Julie Oliver, was recently asked by an industry magazine to comment on the subject of duty of care and traveller tracking technology, with a particular focus on pre-trip risk management. Here’s Julie’s thoughts on the topic:
“Duty of care is one of the most important things an organisation can offer its employees in today’s age of heightened security. It just isn’t possible – or ethical – to send your travellers out to a far-away land on whim without doing an element of preparatory work beforehand. What is really important to understand is that the traveller must know what kind of environment he or she is stepping into before they begin their journey. This is so important for providing robust duty of care for travellers and it’s often forgotten about. There’s so much emphasis on mid-trip assessment that pre-trip management is often deprioritised. Our tracking platform, SMARTtrack powered by Concur will send out an emailed brief of the destination a few days before departure if the area has a level 3 risk or above. It will break down all the essential information to the traveller is well informed and confident prior to leaving. Travellers have the right to be aware of the political landscape they’re entering or be alerted to recent events that may make the area vulnerable to a security threat; they should be familiar with the no-go areas of the city or significant cultural holidays that may impact the intensity of the crowds or populated areas; and most certainly they need to know of any viral outbreaks or necessary vaccinations they might need beforehand. All this kind of information is invaluable to an individual who is entering a country without the safety net of familiarity.
Furthermore, amidst this pre-trip risk management process, the traveller should be made aware of the safety protocols in place should an incident arise and have confidence that there are well-trained, responsive individuals back home that are able to create and communicate new plans should something happen.
It’s not just for the benefit of the individual either; having an auditable risk-management protocol in place at all stages of the trip – pre, mid, and for some, post-trip – will cover the company as well, should something happen. It’s in everyone’s best interest to understand that yes, some travelling comes with risk attached but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate that risk significantly.
I think every tracking platform in today’s age needs to be hyper-sensitive and responsive to global activity. Things can unravel so quickly that the tracking platform needs to be syncing with operations every few minutes to keep the information up to date. I also feel it’s so important that alerts and risk management is an automatic process and doesn’t require manual intervention so it remains seamless 24/7 for all clients. If an incident was to occur, any robust, worthwhile tracking system in 2016 should be able to auto-populate a report of potentially at-risk travellers and send it to the right individuals within the organisation to action. That is what was so important for us during the initial discovery stage of sourcing a traveller tracking platform – and we really believe Concur’s technology is the generation of duty of care technology.
Furthermore, we’re entering an age where this is leakage in travel programmes and travellers booking directly with a supplier are, for most TMCs, travelling without the safety net of traveller tracking. That’s why we’ve taken the steps alongside Concur to ensure SMARTtrack, our system, has open booking capabilities so we’ll be able to look after every single traveller, regardless of where they made the booking, and at all stages of the trip – on an automatic, 24/7 basis. I think that’s the future of duty of care.
What 2016 has taught us is that terrorism in the traditional sense of the word isn’t geographically contained anymore and whilst there are of course countries that are higher-risk than others, terrorism is becoming universal. Cities in Europe and America are still vulnerable to attack and travellers must be made aware of the landscape they’re entering before agreeing to the trip.”