Monday 25 November 2013

GUEST BLOG: Being prepared: the best form of protection for employees abroad

Events abroad such as the Algerian hostage crisis, the Kenyan shopping mall attacks and most recently Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have shocked us all. Alongside the human impact and devastation, these events serve as a reminder of the need to ensure plans are in place to protect the welfare of employees working overseas.

UK employers have a legal requirement to protect their employees due to Health and Safety legislation and, more recently, the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, but still many companies are falling short when it comes to implementing a robust Duty of Care strategy. On a moral level, it should be top of the agenda for all businesses, but it is also significant from a legal point of view; senior management is viewed as liable for any negligence in process, in respect of an organisation’s Duty of Care towards their employees.
Growing markets throughout the world present exciting business opportunities as well as increasing health and security risks, and forward-thinking organisations will consider and plan for all eventualities – no matter how extreme. Natural disasters, civil unrest, terrorist attacks; these are all events that can occur with little or no prior warning, whatever the country. No corner of the globe is free from risk. The recent Cyclone Cleopatra that ravaged the relatively ‘safe’ shores of Sardinia is a case in point.  
So how do employers equip their staff with the tools to protect themselves when faced with a crisis abroad?
Ensuring that they have real-time information and intelligence at their disposal, before and during their journeys, is a start. In this ever-connected world, there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the expertise available. Smartphone technology has transformed the travel risk management landscape. It gives employees instant access to up-to-the-minute data that will help them make informed choices about their movements and, if necessary, instantly request for the assistance of security personnel or medical teams.
Implementing a robust travel risk management strategy has the potential to save lives. That fact alone should encourage those in charge of protecting the welfare of employees, to consider using assistance and intelligence services. Of course, no strategy is capable of preventing disasters from occurring, but there’s no excuse for not allowing employees to be prepared if disaster does strike.
This blog post was written for the Business Travel Show blog by Tim Edwards at AXA Assistance UK. Tim is Business Development Manager for the Corporate Mobility and Travel Risk Management product that AXA Assistance offers. For more information:

Thursday 7 November 2013

GUEST BLOG: How smartphones are transforming the traveller’s behaviour

The year 2013 has been so far the most important year in the history of mobile phone sales as 50 per cent of handsets sold have been smartphones. Having constant internet access from a phone has changed consumers’ habits and it is the travel industry that has experienced this transformation most directly.

According to a recent study from BI Intelligence, there are several factors that are influencing customers’ behaviour, which should be taken into account by all tourism industry suppliers: 

  • 32 per cent of smartphone users make travel arrangements using their device, supporting the theory that, in the near future, the number of online sales made via mobile phones could exceed the sales made by traditional means.
  • Mobile devices have changed the overall travel experience of consumers. Starting with the moment they book a flight or hotel using the phone, tourists become fully immersed into the variety of networks, which allow them to share their travel experience sociallly, such as Instagram or Pinterest. Finally, they are able to publish their comments and ratings on review sites such as Tripadvisor or Holidaycheck.
  • All tourism suppliers are already preparing to meet this growing demand for online purchases through smartphones and consequently are developing specific applications for these devices. Thus, the large online travel agencies such as Booking, Expedia, Orbitz and HRS have designed their own mobile applications. There are also some recently created apps, which content is only available to smartphone operating systems such as Blink, Verylastroom or Hotel Tonight.
  • In relation to these newly created applications, the most successful ones are those that offer users the possibility of making last-minute hotel reservations. Some recent studies made by Orbitz and Expedia reveal that about 70 per cent of bookings that come through smartphones were made within 24hs prior to hotel arrival.

In conclusion, all statistics indicate that travel industry is experiencing tremendous changes due to new technologies appearing on the market. They are being frequently used by potential clients and therefore the industry should be aware of any changes in their costumers’ behaviour.

This blog post has been written by Elisenda Molina, e-commerce manager at Abba Hotels. For more information, please visit