Business and corporate travel is a quintessential element of an EAs role, not only do you have to hop on the plane, but you’ve got to organise the whole kit and kaboodle. 2019 is shaping up to be another record breaking year for international business travel numbers, so it’s high time to brush up on the latest in travel safety so you and your boss are safe as you jet about.
Despite what the headlines say, travelling has actually never been safer. With the dissemination of mobile internet and the rapid development of transport infrastructure all across the globe, it’s now easier and less stressful to get to where you’re going. However, there is always an element of risk when stepping off a plane, so it’s best to keep your wits about you, and use all the tools available in this new era of travel.
Get your business to back you
Organisations are currently stressing the importance on employee wellbeing and safety more than ever before. You or your boss have more than likely listened to a pitch or two from the HR department emphasising the safety of your workforce.
This phenomenon extends to business travel too, and is arguably even more important than in the day-to-day operations of a company. Your organisation has a duty of care to its employees, particularly when stepping out of their comfort zone and into a foreign nation. It’s no longer enough for home base to simply have a copy of your itinerary and call it a day. Companies need to develop comprehensive risk management strategies to ensure that you and your colleagues are tracked, communicated with, insured, assessed and kept comfortable.
Tips for safer travel
The onus also falls on the traveller to ensure their own safety. There is plenty that you can do to reduce your personal risk, and to prepare expectations. The key is to be organised: know what you need done and by when. Having all the pieces in place before you leave for the airport is not only smart, it will reduce the likelihood of a ‘terminal freakout’.
First things first, you need to do your research. Knowing what to expect when you touch down is essential, even if it’s something as simple as the weather conditions, or a few words in the local lingo.
Medical and travel insurance is non-negotiable. Heaven forbid a colleague has a nasty fall and breaks something, but it happens. Not everywhere has a great public health system, particularly developing nations where infection control is a luxury. So having the right plan that includes potential medical evacuations and transport is an absolute must.
Despite what we see on the news, most travellers are affected by petty crime and theft rather than political violence or natural disasters. You can mitigate the risk of being pickpocketed with a few simple procedures. Always keep your wallet or valuables where you can see and feel them. No wallets in the back pocket, and keep that handbag where you can see it. You can also reduce unwanted attention by reducing the glitz and glam a bit. Thieves will gravitate to a Gucci handbag, so best leave it at home.
Know what you’re stepping into
Often times, business travel takes you to places that you wouldn’t normally holiday. A meeting in Cairo with a potential client or a site inspection in the Philippines raise all sorts of safety concerns, and rightly so. Keeping up with the political stability of all your potential destinations is a chore, but fear not, you can quickly brush up with International SOS’s 2019 Travel Risk Map. You can view the safety status of every nation in the world. The interactive online map also allows you to view the road safety and medical capability of regions, which is useful if one of your delegates suffers from an autoimmune issue and can’t risk picking up an infection.
It’s also important to visit your home country’s Department of Foreign Affairs website to determine both your visa requirements, and read reports on individual nation’s security and risk levels. If in doubt, Australia, Canada and the US all have valuable government websites that can help you decide whether or not to head off. S