There are five steps to developing an effective travel risk management plan.

1. Risk assessment

Before you do anything else, you need to do a general risk assessment of your biggest travel markets. Do research, evaluate risks, and think about ways to reduce and mitigate them—even if your employees only travel to countries that are considered safe. You can start by searching online and making a couple of phone calls to local embassies if you’re not sure what travel risks you should look out for.

Travel risks have a very nasty characteristic: they’re constantly changing. The range of travel risks in a certain country varies by the time of year, the current political climate, and more. This means that every time you send your employees on a business trip, you need to do some extra research to make sure you haven’t missed any risks that weren’t there the last time you checked.

2. Education and training

Once you’ve assessed all the risks, it’s time to pass some of that knowledge on to your employees. Discuss all the major risks that they can potentially experience and educate them on how to respond. Remember, in the moment there’s often not enough time to think, so make sure you drill your advice well—even if it’s something as simple as looking out for pickpockets.

Receiving the right education and training can save the life of a traveller in a critical situation. It can also prevent incidents from happening in the first place. Travelers can easily get in trouble just because they’re not familiar with the culture, rules or laws of the country they’re visiting. Make sure you give them a crash course on these risks and they’ll have a better chance at avoiding them.

3. Adding safety criteria to your travel policy

Is there a specific airline that you don’t trust? Has your research shown that it’s not particularly safe to use public transport in the city that your employees are traveling to? Are there risky neighbourhoods that you don’t want your travellers to stay in?

Make sure you add all of these restrictions to your travel policy. It’s not about taking away options from your employees, it’s about making sure that you’re reducing travel risks as much as you possibly can.

4. Setting up communication

Don’t be fooled by the fact that communication is number four on our list: it’s actually one of the most important, if not the most important things to consider when implementing a travel risk management strategy.

Your traveller must be aware of who their point of contact is and how they can reach them. Since you’re not going to be with them physically, you need to make sure that the communication between you is seamless and you can provide assistance whenever they need it.

5. Insuring against unavoidable risks

The reason why travel risk management isn’t called travel risk elimination is because no matter what you do, you will not be able to stop certain things from happening. What you can do is you can insure against risks that you don’t have the power or the means to prevent. This will depend on your company’s insurance policy, and the decision will involve various stakeholders, so don’t feel like you have to go at it alone.

Isleworth Travel Management are specialists in SME Business Travel. As members of the Advantage Travel Partnership and WIN Travel Network, we are big enough to manage your travel plans whilst being small enough to care. Our team of in-house travel consultants learn how your business works ensuring our service is tailored to you.